Five years ago, not many people thought a talk show consisting of three guys from New Jersey debating heavy metal would ever find an audience. But 12 seasons and 100 episodes later, That Metal Show has become VH1’s longest running original show, and has amassed a large cult following of die hard metalheads along the way.
The success of That Metal Show, or TMS as it’s affectionately abbreviated, is largely due to the sense of community the show has created for metalheads all over the world. When the show aired it’s 100th episode on June 15th, it wasn’t just an accomplishment for the show, but for hard rock and heavy metal as a whole. By uniting metal fans and building a loyal audience of consistent viewers, That Metal Show has loudly shown cable television programmers and advertisers that the metal community is not a demographic to be ignored.
To really measure the influence of TMS, look no further than the twitter accounts of the genre’s most popular musicians. From Slash to Ronnie James Dio, the biggest names in rock (both living and deceased) joined in celebrating the 100 Episode milestone.
The response of the heavy metal community should come as no surprise to those familiar with the show. Fans are just as likely to see their favorite musicians on the show as an audience member as they are a guest. From Sammy Hagar to Guns ‘n’ Roses bassist Steven Adler to Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine, the musicians enjoy playing a round of TMS’s popular trivia segment, “Stump the Trunk,” just as much as the fans.
For stand up comic and That Metal Show co-host Don Jamieson, the success of the show could not be more thrilling. Jamieson adds, “I’ll never have a better job in my life. I might work for a bigger network. I might make more money, but I’ll never have a better job.” He adds, “It’s everything that I love. It’s metal. My two best friends. And we get to break balls constantly. Best job ever.”
The fact that Jamieson, and co-hosts Jim Florentine and Eddie Trunk are real life best friends is one of the things that makes the show work so well. They are also real life metalheads. Jamieson recalls his childhood, “When I was nine it was just KISS. My whole room was KISS.” He adds, “Nobody else was doing it, so that’s why I liked it. That’s how I got into hard rock and metal. Everyone else in New Jersey liked Springsteen, but I was like, ‘No! I like KISS.’ And my whole wall was just filled with KISS posters.”
Since discovering KISS at a young age, Jamieson’s musical taste was all metal, all the time. He adds, “Did I listen to Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and Skynyrd on those classic rock stations which still play the same 12 songs since the early 70s? No I hate all that stuff. Commercial radio has ruined all that kind of music for me. I never wanna hear another Foreigner or Boston song again.”
While metalhead Jamieson will likely never warm up to classic rock radio, classic rock radio has definitely warmed up to metal. He adds, “I think, bands like even Metallica, are heard on classic rock stations now. So some of the stuff that we consider metal has become classic rock, not in a bad way necessarily. But even Motley Crue has become classic rock. Scorpions are classic rock. Not a stigma, it’s just some time has past. I don’t think of the bands in that way, but I will hear them on classic rock radio.” Jamieson is a metalhead through and through. He adds, “But I’ve just always stuck to metal. I have a one track mind that way. I’ve never wavered.”
Heavy metal wasn’t Jamieson’s only passion as a kid, he was also interested in stand up comedy. Jamieson adds, “I was a big George Carlin fan when I was 11 but I could never tell my parents. So I had to listen on the old Radio Shack recorders, the old school ones with the little ear bud in one ear.” He adds, “I didn’t get a lot of the stuff, but I just knew it was subversive. Like listening to KISS.”
Being able to combine his childhood hobbies into a way to make a living is a dream come true. Jamieson adds, “I was always a fan of both. I started getting into comedy, as far as being a performer, later in my life. I’d always been looking for a way to combine the two and this show is so sort of a culmination of all that.”
For Jamieson, the combination of heavy metal and comedy is a perfect fit. He adds, “There’s a great sense of humor in metal. David Lee Roth is where I first started to see funny guys on stage that weren’t comics. Even guys like Alice Cooper have this incredible sense of humor and can tell these amazing funny stories. Pete Steele, God rest his soul, was always so self deprecating, even on stage. He’d say stuff like ‘Now that we’ve ruined that song, were gonna try to ruin a Black Sabbath song.’ I always just loved the humor with the metal musicians.”
Jamieson’s ability to combine both comedy and rock and roll was likely best utilized when he worked as a writer for The Roast of Dee Snider. For Jamieson, making fun of the Twisted Sister frontman came naturally. He adds, “I’m really good at insulting people in the most horrible ways, and then not having to actually have it come out of my mouth.” He adds, “I know Lita Ford was upset at the last one. But to be truthful, I was actually pretty surprised that people hit Lita that hard. My jokes were all about masturbating to her videos in the 80s and stuff.”
The Roast of Dee Snider was far from Jamieson first stab at roasting, he frequently writes jokes for the Queen of Mean, Lisa Lampenelli. Jamieson adds, “I helped her out with a lot of the roast jokes and stuff. They would always make her go last, so she’s just sitting there crossing off jokes the whole night. So she brought me in to sort of supplement what she was doing.” He adds, “It’s great writing for her because you don’t have to censor yourself. You can be as brutal as possible. And you don’t have to think like a woman. It’s been perfect. She’s just really truly one of the best people in comedy.”
If being a professional comedian and a professional metalhead wasn’t enough of childhood dream come true, Jamieson is also an Emmy Award winning sports writer. In 2009, Jamieson and fellow TMS host Jim Florentine won an Emmy for their work on HBO’s Inside the NFL. Jamieson jokes, “Somehow two slobs from New Jersey ended up taking home an Emmy.” He adds, “It was a really great honor. I used to put it on my night stand so when I had chicks over, it was my closer. That was my Mariano Rivera.”
With a football show under his belt, Jamieson has moved onto baseball. He adds, “I do a sports show now in New York on the Mets channel, SNY. It’s called Beer Money.” He jokes, “I’m really proud of that. Mainly because the title of the show has the word beer in it. That’s another one of my big interests.”
When Jamieson isn’t busy with his successful career as a comedy, music and sports writer and personality; he also plays in his own band. Gunfire-n-Sodomy is a four piece beyond description. Jamieson refers to it as his, “crazy acoustic death metal band.” He adds, “You can call it what ever you want; it’s a crazy concept. Some people think it’s performance art. Some people think it’s comedy. Some people think it’s metal. Some people think it’s crap. But if you come see us, you will be entertained and you will leave bloody.”
With 2013 shaping up to be his best year yet, Jamieson is grateful for all of his successes. He adds, “It is great to be able to go out and do all this stuff. Doing this TV show has actually helped me buy my first house at 46 years old. I needed a place to house all my t-shirts because I have like 600 of them.” The KISS posters didn’t make the transition to his new Jersey home. He jokes, “I outgrew the KISS posters eventually. I still love KISS but I don’t put the posters up anymore because my girlfriend won’t let me.”
He adds, “I’m in a great place in my life. So I’m really enjoying it. Because when this is all over and no body wants to talk to me again, I can say, ‘alright at least the guy from Screamer Magazine wanted to talk to me.'”
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