Exclusive Interview: Jim Florentine of “That Metal Show”

I love “That Metal Show.” I think that is every blogger who covers hard rock and heavy metal’s dream gig. I’ve become quite the Jim Florentine fan in general. Aside from the new “That Metal Show” season (going on now) Jim Florentine has a podcast called “Comedy Metal Midgets,” a one man show and a gig as a radio DJ on Ozzy’s Boneyard playing his own set. Through in through Jim is a fan and it was a lot of fun chatting with him.

Bob Zerull (BZ): Hey Jim, how are you?

Jim Florentine (JF): Good how are you doing man? 

BZ: Thanks for taking the time to do this with me.

JF: Yeah no problem man.

BZ: I’m a big fan of “That Metal Show,” season twelve-premiered June 1st with Jason Newsted. It seems like every season VH1 Classic adds a little bit more to your show. This season you have a whole new set, are you guys in a new studio?

JF: No we’re in the same studio they just wanted to switch it up, they wanted a different look for the show, so got like a new table and a new set. We added a bunch of new segments and took a couple of the old ones out. They just wanted a different feel for the show so it looks like the CNN war room now.

BZ: Do you like the new format?

JF: Yeah I like it, absolutely. It probably was getting stale looking back at it, so it’s good, you want a different look, because all the shows started looking the same. We’re still wearing the concert t-shirts, but everything else has changed.

BZ: What segments did you guys lose?

JF: We don’t do the TMS top 5; we only do that in a couple of episodes this coming season. ‘The Throw Down’ we don’t do any more, ‘Where are They Now?’ we don’t do anymore. We just switched them out with some other shit.

BZ: I’m real excited about the Jake E. Lee episode; by the time I was old enough to even know who he was he seemed to have disappeared. Was he a tough guy to track down?

JF: Yeah he was laying low for a while like 15 to 20 years just kind of keeping to him self. He finally decided to get back out there and he’s doing a new record and Eddie Trunk tracked him down in Vegas and said, ‘you got to come on the show.’ So he wound up playing guitar on two episodes and also being a guest.

BZ: You guys have an impressive line up again this year. Going in was there a show that you were particularly excited about?

JF: I was definitely excited that Jake E. Lee was going to be on the show. He was great. I was excited about Neil Fallon from Clutch. I’m a huge Clutch fan and also Rick Allen from Def Leppard, I’d never met him before and it was really cool to have him on.

BZ: I get to interview a lot of people but I’m told to stick to what they’re promoting, and rightly so, what I love about your show is that it seems like you guys get to cover whatever you want. Does an artist’s management ever limit you at all?

JF: Not really. They might say, ‘hey look they really want to plug the new record or the book they have out,’ and we’re definitely going to do that, we know they’ll talk about their history, but whatever their new project is we have to make sure we spend a little time on that too. We’ve never had a problem with that stuff which is cool.

BZ: I get sent dozens of albums a day, so much so that it’s tough to keep up with everything. I can’t imagine what you get. Are you able to keep up with the new stuff?

JF: Oh I love discovering a new band or finding an album or reading about them online. I always like finding new music. There’s still a record store near my house, like a hard rock metal store called Vintage Vinyl in New Jersey that I go to all the time. I’m there like once every two weeks. I’m always looking up new shit and checking out stuff so I like to keep on it, because I like the newer stuff too. 

BZ: Now that you’ve seen behind the curtain and met and became friends with some of your comic and metal heroes how has that affected your fan experience?

JF: I usually get hooked up for a concert through a bands manager or whatever, but I always buy the cd, even if I get a free copy or an advance copy I’ll always still go to the store and buy a copy just to help out. If I get a free concert ticket I’ll always at least buy a t-shirt from the bands to give a little back.

BZ: You’ve got both Newsted and Dave Mustaine this year, had Gigantour been announced prior to you doing the show?

JF: It was just getting announced, so Jason was on there talking about doing the tour with Mustaine. You know what, Jason was another one I was excited to have on because I had never met him and he was great for the whole hour we spent with him.

BZ: Two of my favorite podcasts are Marc Maron’s and Jay Mohr’s which you’ve been on recently. Your episode with Maron was fantastic. How long have you been doing your one-man show and is it ever going to get televised or released in some fashion?

JF: Yeah I’ve been doing it for like two years off and on. I’m just trying to find the right venue for it and shoot it as a special. There are a lot of pictures and video and a slide show and all that stuff. It’s not all comedy, it’s a serious piece, but there is comedy involved too. So I’m still working on it, hopefully we can get a director that can get it to the next level. It’s still out there, hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to shoot it as a special and release it sometime next year, that’s my goal with it.

BZ: I just started listening to your podcast, “Comedy Metal Midgets” because of Jay Mohr’s “Mohr Stories Podcast.” I noticed specifically with the Jamey Jasta episode where you talk about the shit he took opening up for mainstream bands like Five Finger Death Punch. How do you feel about the need to label all of these different sub genres in the hard rock in metal world?

JF: I don’t like it. We get it all the time too, because the show’s called “That Metal Show” and then you have a band like Warrant on and the people are like, ‘that’s not fucking metal.’ Is Slayer metal? ‘Yeah, but they’re real heavy heavy metal.’ All right so is AC/DC? We had Brian Johnson on. ‘Well they’re hard rock.’ I don’t know, there’s a whole big thing with that, I don’t like how they label it either. Just fucking say its heavy, even hard rock is heavy. I never followed those trends where something isn’t heavy enough. Look, I like Death Metal and I like freaking Stryper (laughs), so I like everything.

BZ: Why do you think there is such negativity amongst the different fan bases?

JF: Because they’re real passionate about their music and people are very opinionated. That’s the one genre of music where people are really passionate about. Most of all the pop and hip hop stuff nobody gives a shit, it’s just fucking throw away music that nobody is going to care about in five years. In five years you’ll be like, ‘oh yeah I remember that song, it got played on the radio for a couple months.’ It’s all just shit music. With metal people are really passionate about it, if you don’t like one of their bands…I get so much shit at a show like, ‘how did you pick Metallica’s “Ride the Lighting” over “Kill ‘em All,” “Kill ‘em All” is way better.’ Well I like “Ride the Lighting” radio, it’s ok just likes its ok if you like “Kill ‘em All.” People just get really mad and I’m like, ‘dude I don’t know what to tell ya, that’s the one I like.’

BZ: You and Don (Jamieson) are both on Metal Blade Records. That label is pretty much responsible for Metallica even existing. How did you end up there?

JF: Brian Slagel the head of the label…I’m trying to think of when I was first introduced to him, I think it was at a concert backstage. He said ‘I’m thinking about putting some comedy on my label. Are you on a label right now?’ I said, ‘no I’m not.’ He went and saw a couple of my shows and wanted to do an album with me. I was honored; I’ve been buying Metal Blade stuff for thirty years.

BZ: Late last year you released “Awful Jokes from My First Comedy Notebook.” What was the inspiration to release that CD?

JF: I’m still trying to figure out why I released that. Basically what happened was that I was moving a couple of years ago and I found one of my old comedy notebooks when I first started doing comedy twenty years ago, I didn’t even know I had them. I started reading through them and the jokes were so bad. I didn’t even remember writing them I was like who is this person? How did this person get anywhere in their career with these fucking bad jokes? So I wound up reading them on my podcast because people wanted to hear these bad jokes and people loved it. They’re so bad that they’re actually funny. They kept asking for more so I ended up doing a whole CD of them. People that get that it that they’re really bad jokes love it, other people are like what the fuck is this, I don’t understand, why would you put this out, it’s embarrassing and I’m like, ‘exactly.’

BZ: You always hear how it’s difficult for comedians to open up for bands. You’ve done it a lot recently; you were on Orion last year, you opened up for Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer. Has “That Metal Show” made the crowds any more accepting to you being up there?

JF: Yeah, I’d say probably seventy percent of the crowd knows me, so they’ll give me a good minute before they start booing. So I better be funny, but I get a minute grace period before they turn on me. Which is good, just give me a minute and I can throw three fucking quick one liners in there to get them, fucking drinking, sex, drug jokes, music jokes to get them on my side. But if I didn’t have that I’d be dead in the water, it doesn’t matter if I was doing George Carlin’s material.

BZ: You’re back on the radio now? JF: Yeah I’m on “Ozzy’s Boneyard” on Sirius XM channel 38. I do a shift every Thursday from 5 to 7 pm eastern. It’s going to be once a week, a two hour radio show I host, just playing whatever I want, my own format, my own playlists. I’m excited.

BZ: So you don’t have anybody telling you what to play? That’s nice.

JF: Well I have to stick with the format, which is classic hard rock and metal, but I can throw some new stuff in there. I can play one or two new songs. Like I can play the new Megadeth single. If I interview Corey Taylor from Slipknot and Stone Sour then I can play one or two Stone Sour songs even though they don’t really fit in with the format, it’d be ok. So that’s what I’ll do.

 BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.
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