Inquiring Minds

Heavy-Metal Evangelist Eddie Trunk Holds Court In Houston

Eddie Trunk, center, broadcasting live from Houston's House of Blues with (from left) John Escamilla of Jetspeed Productions, Robert Mason of Warrant (hidden), and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.
Eddie Trunk, center, broadcasting live from Houston's House of Blues with (from left) John Escamilla of Jetspeed Productions, Robert Mason of Warrant (hidden), and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. Photo by Bob Ruggiero
There were more than a few curious looks over their cheeseburgers and quesadillas for the office workers and businesspeople having lunch at Houston's House of Blues one afternoon last week. Meanwhile, technicians uncoiled cables connected to sound equipment and a laptop computer at a table on the small stage in front of the dining area.

In front of the laptop – and trying to navigate a pesky sound problem that would thankfully be solved before his live radio broadcast started 15 minutes later – was Trunk Nation host Eddie Trunk. Said program is broadcast daily to tens of thousands of listeners across North America on SiriusXM’s all-music/talk Volume channel (Ch. 106).

Trunk has made some famous friends over the years, which he still tries to balance when critiquing their music.
Photo courtesy of
If you don’t know Eddie Trunk, think of him as the Headbanging Walter Cronkite — the most trusted name in hard rock and heavy metal journalism, without the mustache. And a busy one as well.

In addition to hosting Trunk Nation, he has another music show on Sirius, a syndicated weekly show on terrestrial radio, and a podcast. He’s also an author (two volumes of music guides and a memoir on the way); TV host; and a frequent emcee on rock and metal boat cruises, festivals, and private events.

It’s that last job that brought him back to Houston, where he also hosted a private party and concert at the House of Blues later that night featuring Vince Neil (Motley Crue), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Robert Mason (Warrant), some members of the band Slaughter and former Eagle Don Felder.

But first came the first of two live broadcasts from the HOB dining room, where it was easy to tell who had come to see Trunk and his famous guests Snider (hands-down the most engaging and hilarious), Pearcy and Mason.

Or was it?

There’s five or six people that came up to me after the show that in million years by how they look you wouldn’t think were fans of this music. But it stays with you for life, and they are passionate about defending it,” Trunk says from a side booth after the two-hour broadcast ends.

“Hard rock and heavy metal have always been marginalized and looked down upon,” he continues. “I remember when I was in school, I was made fun of for liking it. I was not invited to the parties, and I was an outcast. But it’s way more popular than it’s been given credit for. I rally against the stereotypes that are into the music, and I even have a new bumper on my radio show that says, ‘No long hair, no piercings, no tattoos…but he still rocks.’”

Trunk’s return to Houston – like his previous visits over the past few years – has been via local promoter John Escamilla of Jetspeed Productions. He first booked Trunk to do two talks a few years back that were far more successful than either man had anticipated. “John has become a friend because he’s brought me here, and we keep in touch,” Trunk notes. A later show where Trunk hosted the Houston debut of hard-rock supergroup The Winery Dogs was also successful.

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Book cover by Harry Abrams
Fans have gravitated to Trunk on his radio shows, but mostly through the late, great TV gig That Metal Show on VH-1 from 2008-2015. He co-hosted the talk/performance show with metal-loving comedians Jim Florentine and Don Jamison and with an approach that blended just the right amounts of superfan and journalist. At the House of Blues, two audience members sported the show’s T-shirt.

“I see those shirts all the time and I am proud of the mark that show made. I just hate talking about it in the past tense. I hope it comes back, but it’s out of my hands,” Trunk offers. He is for now focusing on two other TV projects: a one-on-one interview show, and an upcoming travel/music series in which he goes to music festivals around the country.

In fact, Trunk has arrived in Houston immediately following several days in Sturgis, South Dakota, while filming the pilot episode at the massive annual biker rally. In addition to interviewing performers George Thorogood and Jesse James
Dupree of Jackyl, he says there are segments of him “shooting guns, riding motorcycles and eating fried watermelon.”

Trunk has always been supportive of two particular bands from the Lone Star State, especially one from Houston. “I have a personal connection to King’s X. I was working for Megaforce Records when they were signed and I remember like yesterday their demo coming into the office. They never sold what they should have, and they are criminally overlooked and under appreciated on a global scale.”

And then for an act a little farther north from Arlington. “Pantera was extremely influential, but they also sold millions of records," he says. "What doesn’t get talked about enough about that band is that when you looked at the early and mid-'90s, they were it. It was brutal to make it as a metal band in that era, but they were defiantly metal in that time. They carried the flag for metal.”

Listeners to Trunk’s shows know that there are two topics sure to get his blood boiling. One is the seeming exclusion of hard-rock and heavy-metal acts from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So if he were given a magic inductee card, which band would he present it to?

“Judas Priest,” he says, after thinking for a few seconds. “I know that lots of people push back and say ‘Iron Maiden,’ and I think they should be in too, but Judas Priest has been doing it longer and Maiden used to open for Priest. To me, after Black Sabbath, Judas Priest is the most important band in metal history.”

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Trunk talks with singers Robert Mason (Warrant) and Stephen Pearcy (Ratt).
Photo by Bob Ruggiero
Finally, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of KISS than Trunk. Though he has occasionally scoffed at Gene Simmons’s more egregious band-related products like KISS condoms and KISS coffins, he's fine with it if fans are buying it. The big issue he's vocal about (and not in a positive way) is having current lineup members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer sport the makeup and costumes from predecessors Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

So the final question for Trunk, Supreme Commander of the KISS Army: Would we still be talking about KISS today, and would they be relevant, if there were no makeup and costumes or lunch boxes and action figures?

“That’s a really good question. For me it would be yes because what I most liked about KISS was the music. But I don’t know what the fan base would be like without the spectacle and the show and the costumes…I don’t know,” he says.

“The other side is how much that part of [their persona] held them back and maybe they could have had more hits. Tough to say, I never thought about that. But without the branding, it wouldn’t have the cult and fanatical following they have. And I count myself among that following. I mean, I just read a 500-page book on the making of The Elder.”

For more on Eddie Trunk, visit
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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero