ERIC BLACKWOOD & ANTHONY J. FOTI ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
REV. DR. BILL GRAM ..... (Killing For Christ)
PHIL JONES ..... (Phil Jones Band)
THEO CEDAR JONES ..... (Swaybone)
SCOTT KELLY ..... (Neurosis)
SETH MAJKA Interview 1
SETH MAJKA Interview 2
UNCLE BOB NYC ..... (3tles)

J.D. BRADSHAW ..... (Debbie Caldwell Band)
PAUL CROOK ..... (Anthrax, Meat Loaf, Sebastian Bach)
NICK DOUKAS ..... (Full Circle, Half Angel, student of John Petrucci & Al Pitrelli)
DAX PAGE ..... (Kirra)
MARTY PARIS ..... (Paris Keeling, Permanent Reverse, Barbarian Way)
RUINED MACHINES & MICHAL BRODKA ..... (Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 1
RUINED MACHINES (aka KENYON IV) ..... (World Of Rock Records, Celestial Bodies: A 12 Month Galactic Collaboration) Interview 2
CHRIS SANDERS ..... (Knight Fury, Lizzy Borden, Nadir D'Priest, Ratt)
TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY & DAMOND JINIYA ..... (Rebel Pride Band, Under The Gun Project)
"METAL" DAN SORBER ..... (Thy Kingdom Done, Ferox Canorus)
ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 1
ERIC STROTHERS & ZACH LORTON ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
CHRIS MICHAEL TAYLOR ..... (Carmine & Vinny Appice's Drum Wars, Sunset Strip, Hair Nation)

A.L.X. ..... (Love Crushed Velvet)
GRAHAM BONNET ..... (Rainbow, Alcatrazz)
JOE DENIZON ..... (Stratospheerius, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Sweet Plantain)
DORO ..... (Warlock)
TOMMY FARESE ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, A Place Called Rage)
ANTHONY J. FOTI & ERIC BLACKWOOD ..... (Blackwood & Foti, Closenuf, Edison's Children)
ANGIE GOODNIGHT ..... (Fill The Void)
CORNELIUS GOODWIN ..... (12/24 Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
DAMOND JINIYA & TOM SPITTLE & TROY MONTGOMERY ..... (Savatage, Retribution, Under The Gun Project)
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 1
STEFAN KLEIN ..... (Dethcentrik, Dod Beverte, f.k.k.d.) Interview 2
GUY LEMONNIER ..... (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, The Kings Of Christmas, Wizards Of Winter)
ZACH LORTON & ERIC STROTHERS ..... (Enjoy Church's Tribute To Trans-Siberian Orchestra) Interview 2
PARK SIPES ..... (Sunset Strip, Barbarian Way, Tune In To Mind Radio Kelly Keeling Tribute album)
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 1
ZAK STEVENS ..... (Savatage, Circle II Circle) Interview 2

SCOTT KELLY ..... (Wizards Of Winter)
ERIK NORLANDER ..... (Asia Featuring John Payne, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane)
MICHAEL T. ROSS ..... (Lita Ford, Missing Persons, Raiding The Rock Vault Las Vegas Revue)

DAVE CRIGGER ..... (Foghat, World XXI, Michael Fath)
CHRIS NUNES ..... (Ornament Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tribute Band)
JOHN WETTON ..... (Asia, King Crimson, Roxy Music)

RAFA MARTINEZ ..... (Black Cobra)


RODNEY MILES & ALISON TAYLOR ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)
SEVEN (aka ALAN SCOTT PLOTKIN) ..... (Exile In Rosedale author, Public Enemy, Busta Rhymes)
ALISON TAYLOR & RODNEY MILES ..... (365 Surprising & Inspirational Rock Star Quotes Book)

MATT CHABE ..... (Bangtown Timebomb, Chapter Two Marketing)
JAMES MOORE ..... (Independent Music Promotion, Your Band Is A Virus Book)

MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA ..... (Heavy Metal Mayhem Podcast, Stillborn)

March 24, 2018

"Heavy Metal For A Real Metalhead Is A Way Of Life" An Interview With MIKE "THE BIG CHEESE" CATRICOLA of HEAVY METAL MAYHEM PODCAST

Sept 2011 (phone interview broadcast live on Roman Midnight Music Podcast Eps #29)

In 2008 Mike "The Big Cheese" Catricola started broadcasting out of NYC the Heavy Metal Mayhem podcast, via hosting site blogtalkradio, featuring music & interviews with an array of rock & heavy metal musicians from across the spectrum. Continuing to the present with 2 shows a week & available permanently online, the show can claim longevity that many podcasts never reach. It can also claim a list of guests most interview shows can be jealous of, while listeners are never disappointed - ranging from new bands to classic rockers like John Mikl Thor, from indie to household names, to leaders of the genre like David Ellefson, Rob Halford & Chuck Billy. Heavy Metal Mayhem, with Mike's cool but edgy NY attitude, is the epitome of heavy metal podcasts & a template of how to do it. It serves as publicity for the musicians & their current efforts & is a time to recall past glories, but even more so is a tribute & thank you from a lifelong fan of the music. When he was younger Mike played bass with numerous punk bands, such Stillborn, thus he is also a musician with insight & understanding of the music beyond just being a listener.

During the few years that I was doing weekly music podcasts I paid as much attention to other podcasters as I did musicians on the scene. I wanted to know what others were doing so I could find my niche. Putting together a podcast or radio show is no casual matter, but it is rare when one finds an interview with someone whose not on stage & can talk about the efforts behind the production. A podcaster interviewing an array of musicians over a decade likely has as much if not more to say than a band that has only existed for a year, but folks want to hear from the band. I thought it would be interesting to share behind the scenes & share the person who is sharing the music, so I asked Mike to join me for an hour in what might have been his only interview as a podcaster. I had been following Mike's show & we had struck up a connection that included sharing thoughts & advice & getting me an interview with the late John Wetton of Asia, which I cherish as a fond memory. Though, as I was told by a musician afterwards, it was less like an interview & more like a conversation between 2 people in the same field of work.

* * * *

AJ: Mike, thank for being here with me.

MIKE: Aaron, thank you for having me here. Your introduction was so incredible I don't even know how to follow it up. I actually impress myself. Thank you very much. Congratulations to you on your one year anniversary of your show.

AJ: I think you know how hard it is to do a show, so that means a lot coming from you. You know, when you're starting something that 1st year it's like it could live or die & so many things die. It's a big deal for me.

MIKE: Exactly. You put on a great show. Your interviews are always so top-notch. I mean, you had a whole bunch of shows celebrating your year anniversary & that Sophie B. Hawkins interview. After hearing that I said I can't do anybody anymore, because it was such a great interview & it was so personal. It was beyond like a question-answer type thing. You just blew me out of the water with that one.

AJ: Well, it wasn't deliberate, Mike, you know how these things go.

MIKE: I know.

AJ: You don't plan this stuff. It just happens. You know, the show started & I didn't know she had a breakdown, just that she wasn't calling in. Then there's a phone call coming through 30 minutes in & when the 1st words out of her mouth were suicide you either go with your interviewee or you work against them. Sometimes the mood isn't right for a 20 questions thing, you know. But, please don't stop interviewing, Mike, as you're getting the folks I'll never reach & I'm listening to your show.

MIKE: It's a lot of work. Like you said, people don't realize how much work goes into putting on a show. You know, like researching the artist, especially the people that you're not familiar with or you really haven't heard a lot of their music over the years. Just putting the whole program together is such a chore, but it's an enjoyable one, but it is a lot of work. I know exactly how hard you work on your show.

AJ: You can tell by my questions I do research & I listen to the musicians before they come on. But, you have 2 shows you do. You're actually playing music on the Thursday Metal Matinee. You're playing stuff where you've actually had to dig into your collection & think of stuff, which is a whole other challenge.

MIKE: I have been a fan of hard rock & heavy metal since the 1970's, so I still have all my vinyl collection & demo tapes & cassettes & 8 tracks & CDs & now mp3s. I was just thinking there was a lot of shows out there, but no one was playing the stuff that really didn't make it. Like if you go back to the 1980's you have JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN, Ozzy, all those big bands. Everybody plays them. Nobody plays those other bands that kept the scene alive & going & just didn't make it or don't have that kind of fan base that the bigger bands had. I thought it would be a good idea to focus on those bands & that's what I've been doing.

AJ: I know also a lot of what you do, Mike, is you look at bands that for a lot of people are one hit wonders, but they're one hit with like 20 albums. There's one episode I remember of ACCEPT. Everyone thinks of ACCEPT as "Balls To The Wall", but they've done how many albums? Or the SCORPIONS, "Rock You Like A Hurricane," but look at all the stuff they've done. You do those great episodes where you talk about a whole band for a little while & you really expose people to more than the MTV hit.

MIKE: Exactly. Those are the timeline shows & I try to play something off every album or at least as many albums as I can fit into the one hour format of the show. It gives people a sample of like the earlier stuff, because, like you said, people know ACCEPT. They know "Balls To The Walls." They don't know their 1st record or 2nd record or some of the ones that came after metal kinda fell out of favor in the '90s. It's a great way of just sampling a band's whole career & then going back & maybe buying those albums.

AJ: That's so important, because those musicians are still out there making money. What I did see the other day in an interview with Lou Reed? He said something like 'it's funny being alive, yet all your albums are out of print.'

MIKE: That's so true.

AJ: So, it's hard for folks to discover your old music.

MIKE: That's true & that has a lot to do with the record industry today. It's in really bad shape. It's kinda an upheaval of chaos. People, like the next generation younger than us, they'll never have an opportunity to hear these songs or these records if they're not re-released, so that's kind of a shame.

AJ: This is the way it goes & now with record stores cutting back on stock you can't just flip through the racks & have the world at your fingertips. There's few places to go. I miss Virgin Records & Tower Records. Those were like an oasis.

MIKE: They were great. I miss them, too. Especially Tower Records. I remember going there in the early '80's. That was like one of the only places you could get like import records back then that were hard to find from Japan & overseas. I remember the first record I brought in Tower Records was QUIET RIOT's 1st record that was only released in Japan. I think I paid like $24.99 for it & this is back in like 1981. That was a lot of money for a teenage kid to spend on an album. I do miss those days of going to the record stores. There's no experience like that. You can't get that on the internet.

AJ: No, not in the least. You've been listening to metal since you were a kid. What makes metal so special?

MIKE: I guess maybe because it was the 1st music ... I grew up in a house where my parents played rock'n'roll, do-wop, '50's & '60's music. As a kid, you know, you always want to find your own niche. I had cousins & neighbors who were older than me who were always playing KISS. I think that was probably the 1st band a lot of people people got into back in the '70's. I don't know, there's just something about the music. The power, the intensity, it's just rock'n'roll. It's there for you.

AJ: I know you're not a musician today, but did you ever get into playing anything?

MIKE: Oh yeah, when I was a kid I was in a band called STILLBORN. We were like a hardcore punk band, only because I wasn't good enough to play heavy metal. Hardcore punk back then was a lot of noise, so it was easier. I played bass. We played for about 5 years from '84 to '89. We played at CBGB'S. Actually, a record company put out an album for my band last year. They took all our old demo tapes, remastered them, & they released an album last year called Answers Left Unquestioned.

AJ: Wow, I have to look that up.

MIKE: I'll send a copy. I've got about 400 cases at the house.

AJ: Please do.

MIKE: You can use it as coasters, anything you want.

AJ: Well, you know, the living room table is sagging. I need to put something underneath.

MIKE: This is perfect for wedging it up. Don't worry.

AJ: Okay, Heavy Metal Mayhem is now 3 or 4 years? I just know its over 200 episodes.

MIKE: It'll be 3 years in 2 weeks. We'll have a 3 year anniversary show. There's about 300 episodes.

AJ: That's amazing, man. You do 2 week. You do take holidays, but that's like 2-3 hours a week you're on the air?

MIKE: 3 hours. The Metal Matinee on Thursdays. An hour long theme show. The Sunday night show is 2 hours because that's the maximum I could do. That's just music & mostly interviews.

AJ: How do you do it? Where do you find the time & the prep time to create the show?

MIKE: I tell you, it takes a lot of time away from my wife & she's not happy about that.

AJ: You have that problem, too?

MIKE: You get that little voice in your ear, "You're on the computer again?" I'm lucky that I have a job that I work nights at, so it gives me a lot of time to prep & prepare. It is really consuming. I mean, there's planning out a playlist. Then when you do interviews, you know ... a lot of times with the artist, I'm familiar with a lot of them, so I don't really have to prepare too much, but then you have some bands that are new. You've got to look a lot of stuff up. It does take a lot of time. It really does. You know that.

AJ: I don't think people know that. I didn't know that when I started doing this. Then I started talking to bigger people, like my big interview with Graham Bonnet who's got a 30 year career. 1I don't want to ask the same questions. I can't say how many hours I spent listening to other interviews doing research to try to do something different. I don't think anyone realizes just how much time you & I & others like us put into this thing. We work as much as any musician.

MIKE: It's true. There's a lot of time that goes into this, especially if you care about what you do. You just don't want to throw something together. Like you said. asking honest questions. It's really hard to be different, because everybody's asking the same questions over & over again. You try to find something different & it's not so easy. You manage to do it all the time, which I'm really impressed by. You never go to same direction with your interviews.

AJ: Thanks, man.

MIKE: That really impresses me. I wish I could do that.

AJ: You know what it is, Mike? Every episode, every hour, I'm standing on a pier just about ready to jump into the ocean. I'm waiting for someone to push me into the ocean & I don't know if I'm going to sink or swim,

MIKE: Oh god, I know that feeling.

AJ: I'm not reading a script to you right now. We didn't plan this.

MIKE: Nope.

AJ: We haven't talked before outside of e-mail. I never know what's going to happen. I literally freak out every time I have a show. I don't know about you. But, then, if I'm talking to someone who I really like, like Sophie or Graham, I've got goosebumps at the same time & I'm worried I'm going to go forget how to talk.

MIKE: Yeah, that happens. You're right. I know exactly how you feel. It's funny when you talk to someone else who does the same thing you do, because we both have the same train of thought. We both know where it's going.

AJ: You know then, the other thing is, you don't just not know where it's going, but you don't know how you're going to click with the person. As you mentioned, the interview with Sophie was like a highlight for me & we just clicked, but I've had other interviews where I've talked to some great folks but if we didn't click in the same way. I know you've had them & there are musicians out there who are a little bit known for being a little rough in interviews. So, how are you going to relate to someone when you're spending an hour with them. That's a long time not to click with someone. So, you're literally ready to jump into the ocean.

MIKE: Oh, I know, I know. Like you were saying about getting nervous ... I've had a 178 interviews, but a few of those guests I've interviewed a couple of times so it's over 200. The only time I was nervous was the first one I ever did, because I don't want to run out of things to ask & when I interviewed Rob Halford. That was probably the only 2 times I got nervous. I know exactly what you're saying about clicking, because I've had interviews where I felt like I was extracting teeth to get an answer out of somebody. It was funny, because a lot of those people have been around a long time, they're well-known & they've done hundreds of interviews, so you think they would be a little better at it. Some of them aren't. Then you get some young people that come on & they're just like full of life. They just go for it. Those are the great ones, because you don't feel like you have to keep pulling things out of them. They're right in there.

AJ: Have you ever had someone you've spoken to who, like maybe you were expecting something in the interview or maybe you weren't, but they just blew you away. They just started talking. They just gave you like a volcano & you didn't expect it was going to be like that?

MIKE: Frankie Banali from QUIET RIOT was like that & Craig Gruber, the original bass player from RAINBOW & ELF, those are some interviews that were like that. They just went off like on a lot of things & they mentioned a lot of personal stuff. With groups like that I know a lot of stuff about them that people might have forgotten, so they kind of get like impressed that I can recall that stuff. I couldn't tell you what I did an hour ago, but I can tell you stuff that happen with a band 25 years ago. I think that kinda puts them at ease. They don't hear me ask like the regular questions that most people would ask.

AJ: I don't know about you. but I find a lot of times when you can tell the musicians something about their career that shows you've done more than read their Wikipedia page it's like they're impressed by that. It's like they kind of respond a little better.

MIKE: That's what a lot of people do. They go right to it & they don't know the stuff they are finding in there is wrong. I remember I interviewed somebody I knew nothing about. I look some stuff up on them. I mentioned it & he goes, "That wasn't me. I was never in that band." I felt like an idiot after that. You got to stick to your guns & just go with your heart. It can take you in any direction these interviews. You've just got to be able to go with it.

AJ: You don't have to mention names, Mike. We don't have to accuse anyone of doing something bad, but have you had any difficult guests?

MIKE: Tony Harnell. I don't care about mentioning names.

AJ: Oh well.

MIKE: The original singer from TNT. He was a difficult interview. I couldn't get much out of him. He felt like he was doing me a favor by being on the show. I don't know. It was a very uncomfortable interview. He felt like he didn't want to be here & it was a bother to him. That's something I just don't get in to. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. This is part of the job, in a way, for these guys. He was the only interview I did where it really left a sour taste in my mouth.

AJ; Well, he lives abroad so I doubt he'll hear this. But, he may know it already.

MIKE: Even if he did, I wouldn't care. I'm always polite to every guest on the show. I never say anything bad about them on the show, even after they're on the show, but that was one of those interviews that didn't go well.

AJ: You & I have talked in the past about interviews where the person doesn't show up. How do you deal with folks who don't show up? You're waiting for the phone call & you're waiting for the phone call & you're waiting & you've got to do some back-up plan.

MIKE: That's rough. We have a book on my show everybody goes into. If they don't show up & they don't call me the next day with a good excuse they go right into my book. It's like the 10 Commandments. The bands, their names are stricken from the obelisk of heavy metal & they have nothing to do me anymore. It is bad, because I can understand if there's an emergency. Stuff does happen. It happens to everybody. As long as they call to explain the next day that something happened, I'm okay with it. But, not to call in because you were busy with something else or you forgot, I don't go for that. When you're on air your listeners tune in to hear a certain artist & they are looking forward to it. They don't blame the artist for not coming on the show. They blame you. I set it up, but if they don't call I can't help it. You kinda just gotta wing it. I'm lucky that my friend Tommy calls in every week so I can have someone I can bounce off of & keep things going, so we're never really without anything. I always have something in the can I can always play if I have to. But, it is a hard thing. I know it happened to you not long ago & you were really upset about it.

AJ: It happened a couple times. We were talking about that, because you'd told me that, 'I had that happen to me for one person & I didn't say any bad things about them. Come to find out they had something like their father died. Then someone else I did criticize because they blew me off.' Because, I was trying to figure out how to respond. Do I shit on the person knowing they fucked up & they quite deliberately fucked up, or do I bite my tongue thinking they can fix this & do a second interview, even though I'd lost my interest.

MIKE: I did the same thing too. The first time it happened I went crazy on the air & then the next day I found out somebody passed away & I felt horrible. Now I wait. If they don't call then the next week we just go off on them. It's terrible, because it puts you on the spot, especially like when you prepare. You spend hours preparing for this interview sometimes & then they just stand you up. It doesn't feel good.

AJ: I've been stood up 3 & Sophie called late, but she had a very good excuse as her truck broke down. All 3 times if you would asked like a week before if that was going to happen, you know what, I would have said 'I think something's going to happen on my show this week.' All 3 times I literally knew something was going to happen & it did. 2 of the times I actually had a backup episode planned & the 3rd time I just let the feeling go & I didn't. It's just weird how that's been. What do you do for back-up, Mike? Do you have back-up episodes ready to go?

MIKE: No, there's no back-up. Everything is live on the show. 90% of the interviews are done live. A few of them get pre-recorded because guests are in many different parts of the world & we can't do it time-wise. I just have to wing it. Because I play a lot of music on the show it's easy to fill up those 15-20 minutes with 3 or 4 songs or I've got my friend Tommy who I can talk to about different things. It's not that difficult for me, outside of just disappointing the fans who tuned in to hear that artist. You can always fill in the time, You, you're in a different with your hour long interviews & not playing music. You focus on interviews, so you're stuck without them.

AJ: I'm in quicksand.

MIKE: You can always call me.

AJ: Now you tell me. Next time I'm screwed I'm going to call you & you better pick up, even if you're at work or sleeping on the sofa.

MIKE: I'll pick up. I'll be your back-up plan.

AJ: Okay. I've got a comment coming in on the chat board. "I love the book," says our mutual friend Ken Pierce of the Piercing Metal blog.

MIKE: He's talking about the banned book for the artists that don't call in.

AJ: Mike, tell me about your co-host Tommy.

MIKE: Tommy has been a friend of mine for probably close to 30 yrs. As teenagers we met. He was actually a couple years older than me. Tommy was a guitar player in a great heavy metal band from Brooklyn called TEMPEST & I met him at a concert his band was playing out in Brooklyn. We've been friends ever since then. Tommy was actually the one who came across our hosting site blogtalkradio about 3 yrs ago & he started a podcast called Metalheads United. He did an episode or 2 & then he stopped doing them. I asked if he minded if I changed the name, pick it up & carry on with it. I can never figure out why he wanted to stop doing it, but after doing one myself I realized why. Its a lot of work & he just didn't have the time. So, that's how it goes. Tommy hangs out with me every week & we have a good time, you know.

AJ: 2 guys just talking about metal.

MIKE: Yeah, that's all.

AJ: Bullshitting about metal.

MIKE: Yeah, that's it. We have a good time & I'm glad that he hangs out with me every week because it makes it a lot more fun.

AJ: It's easier, too, I know. You actually just answered what I wanted to also ask. How did your show gets started. Tommy created the initiative.

MIKE: He started it with his show & then when he didn't want to continue with it I changed the name. I remember I did 2 or 2 like half hour practice shows getting used to the equipment & everything, because I'm not very good with computers. Then like after 3 episodes I became so bored. I just was playing music & talking & nobody was listening. I thought I'd do a theme show. It all took off from that show.

AJ: It's funny, Mike, you just hit my next question. It's like you're reading my mind.

MIKE: I've got to stop talking.

AJ: I was going to ask how the show started, what was your vision, & how has it changed? You basically said you started with just the music & kinda grew into the interviews. That's what happened to me. I started doing reviews & then the interviews kinda took off & now I'm basically doing that. I like doing it better & I think the audience likes it better & that attracts more listeners.

MIKE: I agree. I think I think the people love interviews, especially when you get artists people don't really get to hear too often. For me , it was the same way. I started just playing music & it got boring. I decided to do a theme show & I did 6 degrees of METALLICA for the weekday show. Nobody listened, but suddenly I had 21 people listening. All my family is at work, so it wasn't them. I was like so impressed, you know.

AJ: You do more interviews & you get more people & it grows & grows, then look where you are now. 3 yrs later you have this commitment 2 times a week

MIKE: It's amazing how things just snowball. Like one interview leads to another & then another & contacts. I stand back from time to time. I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I get to talk to all these great artists that I listened to growing up. Even though a lot of people might not have heard of them, to me they were big deal because I played their albums growing up as a kid. So, it's just an amazing thing.

AJ: You said earlier, it's good talking to people you know about. It's better to talk to someone who you've been listening to, versus some new band whose name you might have seen in passing. I do the same thing. I talk to the people I know or whose music I like already.

MIKE: That does make it easier. Like the whole first year of the show that's what I did. I looked for all the artists that I liked growing up & I started reaching out to them through any place I could find their info. That's what I did for the whole first year, then as you move along you start making contacts with PR people & record labels & management, you know. Sometimes you have to interview people that's really not what you're into just to kind of get somebody else. That's what happens along the way & I've done a lot of interviews along the way & I don't know who they are.

AJ: Well, you do now!

MIKE: To get Rob Halford from JUDAS PRIEST I had to get 25 other bands that I didn't know. Sometimes you have to do that to get your foot in the door with these people.

AJ: It's alright. You never know what happens. Now, I've done interviews where someone heard my show & I get this email ... actually, it was keyboardist Michael T. Ross who was in Lita Ford's band. I've never heard of Michael T. Ross & he knows that, you know, & he knows he's not a Jordan Rudess household name. But, he sent me an e-mail because he heard the show & wondered if I would be interested. I looked him up & the guy had a great background. Sure. I don't have to know you, because I know who you've been with. 6 degrees of separation. It's good enough for me. Should be good enough for my listeners, you know.

MIKE: Is that like a great feeling when an artist reaches out to you?

AJ: You know what it means? It means someone is recognizing your efforts on some level.

MIKE: Yup.

AJ: It also means they think they can get PR out of you.

MIKE: That's true.

AJ: It is. I mean, he's coming to me because no one knows him. I'm one more PR step for him & there's nothing wrong with that, because that's what you & I do. We share music with the audience. We share people. We share one group of people with another group of people. It's not about you & I. We're just a bridge, you know.

MIKE: You're right.

AJ: But, if someone comes to you it also means that they think your show is good. They think they're going to get something good on your show, too. I don't know about you, but I don't listen to a lot of shows. I listen to you regularly & there's a few others I keep an eye on, but every so often I'll come across one & I like to hear what someone else is doing & how they interview. Some of them are really good & some people out there are really bad. I think the artists do pick up on that. You know, they know where they want to go.

MIKE: You're right about that. I've had so many interviews that afterwards it was like that was horrendous & then you walk with something that was really good, you know. The artists do pick up on it. If you're not able to go back & forth with them & keep a conversation going & bring out all the points they want to hit & get everything that you want to get out of them, it can go south real quick. It's a slippery slope.

AJ: You do a show 2 times a week & have been since the beginning. Why did you give yourself such a big challenge, Mike? Why didn't you start small with a little half hour here or there?

MIKE: That's a good question. In the very beginning I did a show on Sun. with Tommy when he started his program. So when he didn't want to do it anymore, a couple of days later on a Wed. I said let me do a 15 min show. Just to get the feel of it, you know. In the beginning I did a 15 min show on Wed. & a half hour show on Sun.. As the show started moving along & I started getting more guests I started making it 45 minutes, an hour, 90 minutes & I kept expanding. It took about 2 yrs to get up to the 2 hour show on Sun..

AJ: I didn't realize that.

MIKE: If you go back to the early Matinee they are all a half hour long & the Sun. show was an hour. Sometimes I had to cut guests off because of that time frame, so we made it a little bit longer.

AJ: In order to introduce this interview today I went back over all the episodes & made a rough list of all the people you've talked to. Then I had to figure out how most people listening to this would know. You've talked to a lot of folks who are indie or local musicians that a majority of your listeners may or may not know. I looked back, but I didn't pick up on the fact that you did change the time frame. I just was listening to many of them. I wasn't paying attention to the time.

MIKE: It happens, but when you're doing it, you remember the time. Sometimes a half hour can really stretch out if you're having a bad show.

AJ: Then there's other hours, I'm sure you've had this too, where you're with a guest & you're wondering how much longer you can go on because they have nothing to say & you have nothing to ask.

MIKE: I can't say how many times that happened. Sometimes I get so excited about having guests that I overbook & have too many. It's bad in a way, because I find myself doing the same interview week after week or just being bored. That's a bad thing, so I have to start cutting back

I use the word "ah huh" & "we're starting to run out of time". Those are the two famous lines to get a guest off the air when we have nothing to say.

AJ: I have a friend up in Canada who listens to all my interviews he told me that whenever he hears me do "ah huh" I'm about to light a rocket ship with some great question. That's my cue. It's like I'm listening to you & I'm thinking about this & I'm about to ask you the question of your life.

MIKE: Oh god.

AJ: That's what I've been told by a faithful listener of mine.

MIKE: So if I hear "uh huh" I have to start thinking real hard.

AJ: That's right, you're in trouble. But, before I ask you my rocket ship question, Mike, have you ever ... as I just pointed out, this is from a listener ... have you ever gotten feedback from your listeners & you went 'oh gosh, I do that on the air?' You know what I'm asking?

MIKE: Exactly. 2 things I get all the time is slow down when you talk & you got a heavy Brooklyn accent. Those are the 2 things I can't do anything about. I was born in Brooklyn, NY.

AJ: You & Tommy are both Brooklyn guys, right?

MIKE: Yup, both of us are from the same neighborhood, so we can't do anything about the accent. We get excited & we talk fast. I remember I had Tommy Bolan on my show. He played guitar with WARLOCK with Doro for awhile. Tommy is a Brooklyn guy like us & we had him on the show. The 3 of us were talking so fast going back & forth even I couldn't understand what we were saying.

AJ: That's the homeboy thing going on. You know, a couple guys sitting on the park. You're both from the old neighborhood together. You're just talking about the music you love.

MIKE: Exactly. You know, the show is like for us. We're just hanging out, having fun, having a good time & just getting to talk to these great artists. We're not professional DJs. We don't do this for a living. We make no money off this, as you know. It is what it is.

AJ: You probably are in debt for stuff you've bought from the show. An album here or there.

MIKE: Better equipment. It's an expensive hobby.

AJ: It is. It's expensive & it's time-consuming & nobody knows that until they do it & they do it well. For the people who don't do it well & they think you can just get on & blah blah blah for an hour their shows ain't worth listening to. So you got to me all committed. But, I think the results, we may not be rich, but I think they speak for themselves. We're reaching out to people. We're sharing music. We're talking to musicians who need the attention. The results are really valuable on this other level.

MIKE: They are. You're right. There are a lot of shows out there that I think are really great great & I enjoy, like yours, & there are other ones that I don't think it's so great, but I'll never criticize them because I know how much work we put into it. I know that they're doing the same thing. &everybody has their own audience, so I would never say anything bad about another show, because it is hard work. Everybody puts a lot of time into it.

AJ: You know, it's interesting, what you were just saying, we're doing it for ourselves, we're really just talking about the music we like with the people we like & it's just like we're hanging out ... I was watching That Metal Show the other day. I actually don't watch that very often. Yngwie Malmsteen was on it & Chris Jericho from FOZZY. I'm watching the hosts. I'm watching these guys talk about music & I thought to myself, Mike, metal has changed. I'm a kid of the late '80's, you know, & I remember when metal was young & now it's gotten older. So, I'm watching tv & everyone on stage is over 40 yrs old, over 50 years old, a couple of them. I'm watching them thinking 'I remember when it this would have been a bunch of 20 year old guys. Now it's a bunch of middle-aged guys with families. They don't look crazy. They don't have purple hair & they're they're really intelligent. Yet, they're talking about this music that has a whole different stereotype around it. It just really hit me how metal & one part of the fan base has grown up. It's really changed, I think. the way the metal community in the world is. Do you know? Because you're in that community I'm kind of talking about. You've grown up with this music.

MIKE: I agree with you 100%. If you go back to the late '70's, early '80's when it was 1st taking off it never got the respect it deserved back then as music. Today it still doesn't, yet it's one of the genres that's still around & still productive & it's still putting out a lot of music for both the either from the younger fans or the older fans. It's true. Like you said, we're all middle-aged now & we have families, so we don't kinda have that gun ho approach that we used to have when we were kids, but the music is still with us. It's in our hearts & we can never get rid of it. I mean, it's a way. Heavy metal for a real metalhead is a way of life. I mean, we were always a united scene back in the day. We still are today. There are so many heavy metal shows on the internet where I'm friendly with the host & I work with them & I help them out. A good friend Alex Alvarez, a young kid 17-18 years old, had a show called The Diopriest Radio Show.

AJ: I know it.

MIKE: He asked me for advice & to help him with guests. That's what the metal community is about. It's about being united. It's about being together. As you grow up & get older you want to like pass it down to the next generation coming, & that's what a lot of us are doing these days.

AJ: That is true & I don't think people outside of the metal community know that. At the record store I work at in the East Village, Rockit Scientist Records, my boss is always saying that one of the last groups left that still buys an entire album is the metal community. If you want support from a musical community, it's the metal community. You know, we're like united. We support the bands. You're not going to get the same type of support from the Britney Spears community, you know, or the grunge rock alt-rock COLDPLAY community whatever, but the metal community there's like ... I don't know about you, Mike, but I meet someone else & they say to me that they like metal, & that person might be an asshole & maybe we don't agree on anything, but on some level I feel like 'You know what? You like metal, I like metal. Great.' Maybe you like a different part of MEGADETH's career than I do, but it doesn't matter, because on some level we're like kin. We're like brothers. We're in the same musical field.' I don't think any other group really has that. I don't see it. I don't see it with like classical people going 'Oh yes, you like Beethoven, I like Beethoven. Yeah! You rule!' You know, it's not there.

MIKE: Yeah, it's true. Metalheads have always been a close united group. You know we wanted always to further the cause, especially because in the '80's it was all underground. Who would have thought when METALLICA 1st started playing they would be one of the biggest bands in the world today? You would never have thought that back in the '80's. It felt like it was our little thing. You go back the '80's metal was like that & so was rap. Rappers were on the streets. It was underground. It was a different style of music, but we both had the same focus. The rap fans were really loyal. The metal fans were loyal. & we stood with each other. It's carrying on today. I have friends that I met in clubs back in the '80's that I'm still friendly with today because the music has kept us together. The internet has made it a lot easier to connect & keep those bonds. It's a great thing.

AJ: Absolutely. You mentioned earlier that you play a lot of like older bands that have fallen to the cracks or maybe they've been, you know, pushed into that one hit wonder category. Do you pay attention to the newer bands as much?

MIKE: You know, unfortunately I don't. I really don't even give a lot of new bands a chance anymore. I'm so focused on like the music I grew up with. When I first started doing this show I did a segment called The Sunday Night Spotlight. I used that to feature newer bands, younger kids, that are kinda playing in that classic '80's style & sound. It was a great thing. I did that for about a year or so & then I kind of like lost track of that, because it was getting to be difficult trying to find bands every week & contact them to get music. Yeah. I don't really give a lot of new bands a chance, even though I do interview a lot of the newer bands, but that's mostly because of the PR people I deal with & the record companies.  I kinda like gotta do them favors & get some of these bands on, but I really don't give them much of a chance. I tell you, there's a band called BRUTE FORCE. I interviewed them today for the next week show. There are a new band & I think these guys are fantastic. So, when you say that it's a shame that I don't give a lot of new bands a chance, that's mostly because of time. You do comes across some good ones & these guys will like that today.

AJ: You know, I've interviewed a lot of folks that have one or 2 albums out. That's another thing with a new band. When you only have one album out or you've only been playing for a few years, its like sometimes I have to stretch to talk about stuff. It's harder to talk to a new band that just released their debut E.P., you know?

MIKE: That's very true. There's not a lot of information out there. You know, what's a shame? With the internet today & this goes for a lot of older bands, you go on to their website & they have nothing on there. They don't really take advantage of the internet like they should. Just to put their information out. It is hard with a new band, because you don't have much to talk about & you are stretching the conversation over the few things you can pick up about them from that E.P..

AJ: It can be really tough & I know you feel this way that you want to present the bands in the best light. I don't curt controversy with any of my musicians. Though, there have been some musicians I have talked to who I knew had something in their career that was controversial & we might even have spoken about it before the show & I asked if they wanted to discuss that. They said it was up to me, but I chose not to. So, you want to present a band in a good light, but if you don't know anything about them & they're fresh out the barn door, it's really sometimes tough to be fair to everyone.

AJ: I think it is. I agree with you 100%. You do the best you can with those ones & hopefully they come far & in between & it's not too bad when it happens. I think the worst thing when interviewing is, is when the whole band wants to come on & you have 4 or 5 members. The worst is they get into a private conversation with themselves & it's like you're not even there. I think that's even worse than having a new band that you don't know much about. It was my second interview, a little group called ICKY'S EGO out of California. I really liked their music & they have some great videos. All 4 of them I was talking to. I had no idea all 4 of them would be there. I thought it would just be the founding husband & wife. I thought that would be it. I get 4 of them & I don't even know who they are until they introduce themselves. I actually had to write their names on a piece of paper & kinda keep track of who I just spoke to & who I asked a question to & who I'd talked to too much or too little. I wanted to be fair. Then the photographer called up. Then someone came into the room. They were on speaker phone so I was wondering who was talking.

MIKE: I know, it's hard, especially when you're on the phone, because you don't know who exactly is talking & if it's people you're not familiar with you don't even recognize their voice. I interviewed the A.N.M. (i.e. ANTI-NIGGER MACHINE). That's the name of the band. It's all black guys in the band, so they can say that. It's Doug Pinnick of KING'S X & members of 24-7 SPYZ, FISHBONE & RWA. I had them all on & after like one question they started talking to each other. It was like they got a free business phone call. The whole half hour was just them talking to each other about when they were getting together, we're they're going on vacation, what are they doing. I'm like, let me know when you're done & I'll do my show after that.

AJ: You'll just be waiting.

MIKE: You know, I've never played back one of my shows. I've never heard one of my shows after I've done them.

AJ: Really? You haven't?

MIKE: I can't listen back to the show. I think I would  cringe if I heard myself.

AJ: Well, I do cringe when I listen back as I hear the way I talk & the way I ramble & my particular accent. I don't sound like the guy I think I sound like. While the words never come out the way I think they do. When you're doing live & you're talking off the top of your head, I'm always fumbling my words. It's kinda my personality. I do this normally. You know, if you meet me on the street I normally bumble like this, but there is something about the live thing & having to fill the air. There's a little pressure here, you know, & to get the thoughts out clearly. People may not realize how truly difficult that can be sometimes.

MIKE: It is. I'm the same way. I fumble over what I want to say all the time, because I have so many things bumbling around in my head that I want to get out. I want to mention this & I want to mention that & then I forget to mention it or I mention something else. There's such a short amount of time. I pack these shows with so much music that it doesn't leave a lot of time to talk sometimes, so I try to get it out quickly. You just start fumbling trying to get it out. You never want to hear dead air. That's like the worst thing you can do I feel in radio, so you're always trying to fill it up & it can get hard sometimes.

AJ: Plus, you're looking at the clock. You're looking at the songs. You're thinking 'I have 5 minutes left & this song is 3 minutes 50 seconds.' Plus you're listening to where the interview is going & I'm making the questions up on the spot. You're thinking about what are we talking about & what can we talk about? The mind is in 5 directions at once. The other thing is a few I've been interviewing someone & I realized, shit, I'm not really listening to them. I'm thinking about the clock or the next song.  I'm not even hearing them. You know?

MIKE: I've been there, too. You focus on so many other things that sometimes the most important thing takes a backseat. Sometimes I have 2 guests on the show & I want to give them as much time as I can to talk, but I have to kind of get one off to get the next one on. Sometimes I start rattling on. You know, you try to think of nice ways to end it. Then I have Tommy who doesn't really say much for most of the shows, who knows when I'm running late on time & wants to chime in with a 20 min speech. I'm trying to move the show along & it gets hard. The clock, the music, the interviews. Everything is going on in your head & it can get all bottled up sometime, I agree.

AJ: Remember about a half hour ago I think I said there was a rocket ship question coming up, before I lost track of time?

MIKE: Yup.

AJ: Well, my last question for you is that question. Mike, you've been doing your show for 3 yrs & 300 something episodes. You've talked to seemingly everyone or, at least, you're doing a really good job working on it. How is Mike the Big Cheese different today after this experience than he was 3 years ago? How has the show changed you?

MIKE: One step closer to divorce court, cause I spend too much time doing it. I think that's the biggest one. I was very uncomfortable doing the show in the beginning. Talking on the air with my heavy Brooklyn accent. I feel so much more confident & comfortable today than I did 3 years ago. Early on, you feel like you're always the guy on the bottom of the totem pole & people don't think much of you & give you the respect for what you put into the show. I feel like I've earned the respect of record companies & PR people & different manager, where they come to me now & I don't have to go to them anymore. I feel like I've given people a really good dose of what the '80's were all about. I'm proud of myself for doing that. Made a lot of great friends over the years, you included, & I think that's the biggest thing right now for me.

AJ: What have you learned?

MIKE: Definitely make sure you've got money on your credit card to pay blogtalkradio, because they'll knock you right down to a free account & erase all your music. I also learned just to enjoy life & have a great time doing what you're doing & just take advantage of all the opportunities that come with doing this show. To me that's I get to go & meet all these rock stars & talk to them & hang out with them & it's like a thrill. It's almost like being a kid in a candy shop.

AJ: Well, you're reliving your childhood really on some level.

MIKE: Exactly.

AJ: You're having your childhood dreams come true.

MIKE: That's exactly what it is & I'm loving every minute of it.

AJ: You've interviewed so many people. Just this past year I was impressed by hearing your interviews with Rob Halford of JUDAS PRIEST & Lizzy Borden. If someone came up to you tomorrow & gave you the opportunity to name any artist to be on your show, what name would you give as your dream guest or maybe a couple dream guests?

MIKE: It would have been Ronnie James Dio. I was close to getting that done right around when he got sick. I never followed up. It felt s so funny asking, you know, as he was going through his treatments & everything. But, any member of BLACK SABBATH. I'm really close to getting one of them right now. I think Ritchie Blackmore. I would love to talk to him.

AJ: He's on the top of my list. He's one of my personal guitar gods.

MIKE: A friend of mine was like his assistant in the '80's when he was in RAINBOW with Joe Lynn Turner. He's still great friends with him. He's actually a singer in his own band that I've had on my show. I was going to start working on him to see if he could get me in touch with Ritchie. I don't think it will happen. He's very reclusive these days.

AJ: For me, Blackmore is my Hendrix. He's the best.

MIKE: I feel the same way. Maybe we can do an interview together.

AJ: Mike, we're down to the last minute of this show. Is there anything left you'd like to say?

MIKE: Aaron, I think you've covered it all. You've got a great show. Like I said, congratulations on the one year. You've told me a few of the interviews you have lined up & I'm excited to hear them. I can't thank you enough for having me as a part of this. I feel honored that you would even ask me.

AJ: Why not? It's important to talk to people like you. Just because you're not on a stage doesn't mean you're less interesting. Actually, I've been able to ask you more questions than I have some of the musicians,

MIKE: This was great & I had a good time talking with you, too.

AJ: I can't thank you enough for joining me & I know this is a very rare moment when you're on the other side.

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