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Don Jamieson – Comedian, Co- Host of VH1’s That Metal Show

Date: 12/13/10
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. So you recently signed a deal with Metal Blade Records. Tell us what the label will be releasing for you?

DON: Yeah it’s great to be part of one of the biggest labels for heavy metal music. In the immediate future I will be doing a comedy show that will be recorded (and released on cd by Metal Blade) in New Jersey on January 30th at Bar Anticipation in Belmar. We are hoping to get a bunch of crazy metalheads to come down, no Snookies or Situations, real Jersey people, lots of beer drinkers and hellraisers. It’s a regular comedy show, maybe have a couple guys open up, but it will be my full show pissin people off, bein filthy, maybe include a little music in the show, we’ll see I’m trying to be creative with it.

2. How much of your current comedy act includes Heavy Metal music references?

DON: At the top of the show I usually do about 10 minutes but I make sure its stuff everyone can understand even if you’re not a metalhead, I talk about Twisted Sister, Judas Priest, the more common household names. Maybe for this show I may dig a little deeper since the crowd is mostly going to be metalheads because of That Metal Show (which has done 6 seasons).

3. I saw your standup when you opened for Charred Walls of The Damned in NYC and it was hilarious, and your whole shtick then was all metal music related.

DON: O thanks man, yeah that was a lot of fun and I would like to do that with another metal band at some point. It was a cool concept. Yeah, when I opened for Charred Walls I wanted to make the jokes mostly about metal bands because that was the crowd, but yeah you’re gonna hear a lot of those jokes at the show in January plus new ones.

4. Are heavy metal music jokes then usually part of your act?

DON: Yeah, like I was in Michigan recently playing a theater in front of a regular crowd, I mean there were fans at the show but mostly everyone was just there to see comedy. Like when I talked about Twisted Sister I said I said when I first saw them “I didn’t know if they were the ugliest chicks from New York or the hottest chicks from Jersey”, hahaha. And thanks to the Jersey Shore that joke works everywhere.

5. Tell us about a couple accomplishments you’ve achieved being a comic?

DON: Well most of the ones on my resume I made up…no I’m just kidding. It seems like I’ve achieved a lot of accomplishments but not a lot of recognition, hahaha. The TV show (That Metal Show) is probably what I’m most proud of because I get to do the two things I love, comedy and talk about metal music, plus I get two hang out with my two best friends and break balls...God bless America.

As far as other stuff, Jim Florentine and I won an Emmy together which was insane for a comedy sketch we did for HBO. That’s awesome, and the thing about the Emmy is it doesn’t help much with my career but on your nightstand it’s a total aphrodisiac for a chick, I’m telling ya you’ll score every time if there’s an award on the nightstand. I do writing for some of the Comedy Central Roasts, I did the Gene Simmons Roast for the Family Jewels Show and I got to meet Gene which was great. He knew it was all in good fun even though there was a lot of jokes about his hair. Mixing comedy though with the metal music is something I’m really proud of and doing the Charred Walls Of The Damned tour was a great start and something I’d like to pursue further, like to do it on the Mayhem tour over the summer especially with my live CD that should be out by that time.

6. How long have you been a comedian?

DON: I’m going into my 15th year. When I went out with Charred Walls Of The Damned even if the crowd didn’t know me (more so now because of That Metal Show) I figured I had that 5 minute grace period to win them over before people started yelling “you suck”. I looked at that tour like when I first started doing comedy because we (with Charred Walls) were playing clubs, rowdy places where people were yelling stuff out, and I can handle it, the more rowdy the better. If I get on something like the Mayhem festival that would be a major challenge because you’re goin from several hundred to several thousand a night. You know, Jim Florentine did the American Carnage tour and he did a great job, but there were some nights where he said it was so tough, the fans are rough especially when there’s alcohol involved.

7. How often to you get to tour and what are your tentative plans for 2011?

DON: Comics are not like bands, we just can’t pick a time and go. This is what I do for a living, and now That Metal Show is also a big part of what I do professionally, but comics mostly do like weekends here and there, sometimes you stay a little more local. But I think once this live album comes out on Metal Blade (sometime in the spring), I will set up a more formal tour and go throughout the country in comedy clubs, and somewhere in there do something with a Metal Blade band.

8. You are from New Jersey, right?

DON: Yeah, I was born in New York but raised in Jersey in Lakehurst. That’s why I like playin in small towns too.

9. Who are your influences as a comic?

DON: Early on when I was like 11 or 12 it was George Carlin, Cheech and Chong which is weird because at the time I didn’t understand the drug references but for some reason the comedy appealed to me because of the subversiveness of it, then later on Andrew Dice Clay because he created this character that just became so huge and years later I’ve been able to tour with him so it’s totally crazy. I went from watching him at Madison Square Garden at the height of his fame and now I get to tour with him, it’s so cool man.

I always like the guys who were more edgy, Sam Kinison, Seinfeld and Jackie Mason were fun, but I liked people who were really raw and brought it, like Chris Rock. My show is totally influenced by those edgier guys. I mean Seinfeld is doing just a tiny bit better than me, haha, and makes only 250 million more dollars than I do…but he doesn’t have a fucking album out on Metal Blade! I mean Brian Slagel (owner of Metal Blade) brought so much great metal music to the States in the 80s, and he still is today. Amon Amarth is one of my favorite new bands, I love those guys and I’m actually gonna see them when I’m out here.

10. That Metal show is going on its 7th season. Who would you like to get on the show this year?

DON: Well there’s still Ozzy, Eddie Van Halen or David Lee Roth and it looks like new Van Halen music is coming out this year, but those guys picks their spots where they do press. Those are the main ones we want. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley would be great, we already had Ace and Peter on. Brian Johnson from AC/DC would be great. I have no idea who they are trying to get it’s too early to know and I have nothing to do with the booking. This past season was great, we had Slash (ex Guns n Roses, Velvet Revolver), Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, Michael Anthony (ex Van Halen bassist).

11. Who was your favorite guest so far?

DON: I think Alice Cooper. He was so cool, showed up and hour and a half early to hang out with no manager, publicist, just a book. Such a mellow guy and he has such crazy stories from when he was drinking and then at the end of these stories he comes out with this punch line and I’m like “Who’s the comedian here?” I’m such an Alice geek though, it was like hanging out with a hot chick and I was like Steve Urkel. But it was cool, when you’re a fan of someone’s music and then you get to talk with them you have many years of questions to ask.

12. Who are some your favorite bands from the last 10-15 years?

DON: Hatebreed and all the incarnations like Kingdom Of Sorrow. Amon Amarth I dig like crazy, Danko Jones this band out of Canada, they are sort of like if Cheap Trick had a three-some with AC/DC and Thin Lizzy and the condom broke Danko Jones would be born. Fireball Ministry and the album of the same name is so kick ass. It took me a while to get into them, Slipknot, but man they are super talented and then all the bands they spawned like Stone Sour, the Murderdolls new album.

13. That Metal Show’s focus is on bands from the past more than the present. Do you see the format changing a bit with the new season? Is there room to start talking about and bringing on newer younger bands?

DON: Yeah, well obviously we appeal to the VH1 Classic audience, the important word here being “classic”, and all our roots do come from the classic bands. And of course that helps to understand where the newer bands come from. But as far as That Metal Show, now with it being an hour it does allow us to experiment and do some different things. In previous seasons the show was only a half hour which doesn’t allow much time. With the hour now we can bring in a newer younger band to sit next to one of the classic bands. Like for example, even though Glen Danzig is not a new artist it was cool to see him sitting next to Bill Ward from Black Sabbath because obviously Glen’s music was influenced by Sabbath, you know.

But again it all comes down to schedules too because a lot of these European bands don’t live in the States and we can’t afford to fly em over. If scheduling allows it would be great to bring in some newer blood.

14. Within the past year, the Scorpions and Judas Priest have announced retirement at the conclusion of their current tours. We all know none of these bands are getting any younger so Iron Maiden, Kiss, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, etc, are soon to follow. Do you think the second generation to follow in their footsteps has been established and if so who do you think they are?

DON: You know it’s funny you mentioned that because we talked about it on one of the seasons of That Metal Show and I think it still remains to be seen who’s gonna take over for the forefathers. I think they are out there, is it going to be a Machine Head, or an Avenged Sevenfold, I mean those are just two off the top of my head that I can see it going that way. But you’re right dude we are starting to lose all these classic bands, but also the other problem is bands don’t sell tickets like they use to. I remember seeing Priest for so many years in sold out arenas, now unless if your Metallica you’re really not packing em in. Or even an Avenged Sevenfold they had a #1 album this year, and Mike Portnoy played drums, it’s a great album so they deserve it. And it was great to see Mike Portnoy be on a number one album but I don’t think it’s the end of the story with him and Dream Theater either. Avenged could be one of those bands but obviously they still have to grow as a band and expand their fans without losing their diehards, you know. Look, Metallica found out firsthand what happens when you deviate too far from you’re roots, nobody wanted to hear ‘Load” and ‘Reload'. Not that they are bad albums but obviously “Death Magnetic” was a more traditional Metallica album.

15. At Metal Asylum, we pride ourselves in staying current and reporting on new bands, especially the European ones who really for the most part get ignored by radio and TV (at least the bigger markets) in America. To tie in with my previous question, as we all know at the beginning of and throughout the 90s traditional Heavy Metal was forced back underground, looked down upon and became unfashionably cool in America. But, at the time in Europe, all these great bands with a classic heavy metal sound started popping up, like Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray. Then in the last ten years or so you had Hammerfall, Edguy, Primal Fear, all who have either headlined or played right before the classic names on huge European festivals, and recognized as potential next generation successors to the traditional Heavy Metal from the 70s and 80s. Really, these bands would be logical choices to take over when Maiden, Priest, Scorpions, Sabbath, Motley Crue, etc, retire. What are your thoughts on those bands and why do you think they really haven’t been accepted on a larger scale in America?

DON: O, wow…I mean I know all those bands have great pockets of fans here but to be honest I really don’t know other than the fact that I guess because a lot of those albums don’t get good distribution here, they don’t tour a lot, the labels don’t push the music. I mean you can’t come over from Scandinavia and only play for a couple hundred people. It cost too much to support the tour. Even though metalheads will go seek out these bands, the bands can’t make a living off a hundred people in a club, and if you’re selling thousands of records and tickets in Europe you have to go where the demand is.

But look, Metallica took The Sword out on the road and they blew up, so maybe all it takes is for one band to take someone under their wing. Maybe if bands did that more often it would help. For myself, those kind of bands are really not in my wheelhouse. Like I said, the biggest band I’m really diggin out of Europe is Amon Amarth, and this really gloomy band Katatonia.

16. What do you think of Ozzy’s new guitarist Gus G and have you heard his band Firewind?

DON: I did check out Firewind when I heard Gus got the gig with Ozzy and its cool stuff but not really my thing, its in the vein of those bands you mentioned before. I mean as far as him being in Ozzy’s band I went to Ozzfest, and we all love Zakk, but I will say Gus kicked ass and he really fits well in the band. Look, it’s all good we are getting good music from Ozzy and Black Label Society. I don’t know how many albums Ozzy has left I him but if this does work out with Gus he will do more stuff. Plus, I don’t think the book is closed with Zakk and Ozzy either because everything usually comes back around again. We’ll see.

17. Can you give us a couple things you have going on for 2011?

DON: As of now I’m doing a big New Years Eve show at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant, NJ, it’s sort of a warm up for the taping in January. That Metal Show will start taping (we think in Los Angeles) in the spring. I’m looking forward to it, we try to have a nice variety because in the end its all hard rock and heavy metal. Look, we had Kip Winger and Reb Beach from Winger on the show and you know how they got slagged for so many years which is stupid because they made some great music and their last album “Karma” was hard rockin. Plus, they were one of our best guests, really nice guys. That’s what I love about the hour show now because you can have Stryper and Slayer on the same show, we like to span the gamut from Thrash to Hair Metal and everything in between, and then stuff about the newer bands. I wore an Amon Amarth shirt when Alice Cooper was on, Jim wore a Five Finger Death Punch shirt one time, so we are working on incorporating the newer stuff too.

Official website: http://www.donjamieson.com


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