I was nine years old, and my mom bought me my first Kiss album. And that was it, I knew that I was going to like this kind of music for the rest of my life.”
Don Jamieson: Hi, it’s Don!
Wikimetal (Daniel Dystyler): Hey, Don, how are you? This is Daniel, from Wikimetal in Brazil, how are you?
DJ: Hey. Good, how are you, man?
W (DD): I’m great, I’m great. I’m very excited to have the opportunity to talk to you. So first, let me thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. I know how busy your schedule is, and also, I’d like to thank you for everything you’ve been doing for heavy metal, waving the flag for so long. So, in the name of all Brazilian headbangers, I’d like to thank you, and welcome to the Wikimetal show.
DJ: Oh, man… It’s great to be here, and thank you from the bottom of my heart. And I speak for Jim and Eddie… We wish we could get to South American and see all of our fans down there, because we know how crazy about metal they are, but, you know, we’re on VH1 Classic here in America, and that’s… They don’t have any money, so we have to stay here and do our thing. But we’re glad you guys have found us, and we appreciate all the support.
W (DD): Don, I’m going to start asking, like back in the day, in the beginning of your career, who were your main influences as a comedian, and who are your top, I don’t know, two or three, comedians?
DJ: Well, my main influences as a comedian were actually musicians. I always thought, like, whenever Ozzy does an interview, he always has, like, a million one-liners. You know, like every line out of his mouth is a joke, you know, he’s always funny with a quick answer. So I always loved watching Ozzy in interviews, because he was so funny. You know, Ted Nugent – one of the funniest guys ever, you know, all his thing when he’s on stage talking, and you know, doing all his stage raps, he’s always so funny up there. Alice Cooper, you know, always tells great, great stories with funny endings, so… To me, I always… David Lee Roth, you know, David Lee Roth was always funny, even though you couldn’t figure out half the stuff he was saying, he was still funny. So that’s where I really started to get my sense of humor, it was from musicians.
W (DD): Do you remember how you first became involved with heavy music?
DJ: Yeah. I was nine years old, and my mom bought me my first Kiss album. And that was it, it was over for me. I knew that I was going to like this kind of music for the rest of my life. I mean, to me, Kiss was… This is the greatest band ever, I mean, they have the music, they have the look, they have the stage show, you know, it was the complete package of everything, you know. And from there on I put Kiss posters all over my wall – every inch of my wall. And my mom would always say, you know, “Where is this all going?” And it took a while, but I finally ended up getting my own heavy metal talk show, so it was a good start.
W (DD): And do you remember which album that was?
DJ: It was “Destroyer”.
W (DD): Oh, that’s a great one. And still talking about your comedy side and heavy metal side, sometimes, I think, you did your comedy show as an opening act for some hard rock and heavy metal bands, including Twisted Sisters, if I’m not mistaken… So, I’m wondering how’s that experience? I mean, metal fans expecting the band to play… Is it a tough crowd or are they nice and into it?
DJ: Well, I always tell people… You know, the crowd, because of the TV show, when I walk out, at least people recognize me, and they know who I am. So I have about, probably two minutes to prove that I’m funny, before the bottle starts flying. So once I get out there, I get into my best material, you know, get the crowd on my side, and then it’s usually a lot of fun after that.
W (DD): And do you bring any specific material for the metal audience?
DJ: Yeah, I do. I do a whole different act now in front of the metal fans. I’ve written a whole act of all hard rock and heavy metal material, that I can’t do on a comedy club, because…
W (DD): Nobody will understand…
DJ: No one’s going to understand. But I can do it in front of metal heads, and, you know, me and Jim Florentine actually got to do… You know, we did Metallica’s Orion Festival in Atlantic City this past summer. And that was the first time where I really had that set down and together… And, man, it was really, really great. Lars came down and introduced me to the crowd, and it was just such a fun day with, you know, all my fellow metal heads.
W (DD): Yeah, I heard you saying that back in the day you thought that Twisted Sisters were girls, the ugliest girls from New York and the hottest chicks from New Jersey…
DJ: Yeah, or the prettiest girls from New Jersey, right!
I don’t care if they want to call the album ‘Don Jamieson is an asshole’, as long as it’s on Metal Blade, that’s OK.”
W (DD): That’s great. So that brings me to your live album “Live & Hilarious”. Could you talk a little bit about the experience of releasing an album, especially through such a great metal company as Metal Blade Records, and also featuring Bumblefoot?
DJ: Yeah. Well, Bumblefoot’s been a friend for a long time. He also lives in New Jersey with all the ugly girls. So I asked him if he, you know, would like to come down, and, you know, just do something on the album, maybe play an introduction or something like that, and, you know, he’s such a great guy, he came down with this complete rock star gear, he brought a double-neck guitar, and he really did a cool thing for me. He’s always busy with Guns N’ Roses, so I was really happy he took the time to come down and be a part of my first ever live comedy album. But basically, yeah… And to be on Metal Blade… I told everybody, I said “I don’t even care, you know, if anyone buys this or anything, the fact that I’m going to have an album that says ‘Metal Blade’ on the back, that’s the best thing in the world, I can… You know, that’s more amazing than anything, because that’s one of my favorite record labels of all time.” And I said “I don’t care if they want to call the album ‘Don Jamieson is an asshole’, as long as it’s on Metal Blade, that’s OK.”
W (DD): That’s great. And do you think that the album would appeal to the Brazilian audience, assuming that they speak English, they understand English?
DJ: Yeah, well, most of the world speaks English better than we do here, so I hope that people would get it and enjoy it. And, you know, I basically did it… I did everything wrong on that album, because most comedians will record, you know, like six shows, and they’ll make sure the room is packed with people and friends and family, and then they’ll edit all the shows together, you know, they’ll take the best bits from each night and make the perfect album. But I didn’t do that, I did one show in a rock club, not even a comedy club, and I just put it out as it was, live, with just a couple of edits, so that album is as live as it can possibly be. I just wanted to capture the raw energy of what I do, you know, I’m not very refined, so to do it in a theater, or something like that, I didn’t think it was the right thing for me, so I did it in a rock club, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out, so, you know, I’m already thinking of ways to screw up my second one.
W (DD): And that type of attitude defines why you are a metal comedian, and the others are, I don’t know, pop, hip hop, or whatever… So, let me ask this: we have a classic question on our show that we ask every single guest, which is, imagine you’re listening to your ipod on shuffle mode or you’re listening to a rock station while driving your car, and all of a sudden a song starts that makes you lose your mind and you feel you need to start head banging immediately, regardless of where you are you can’t stop, you can’t refrain yourself. What song is that so we can listen to that one on our show right now?
DJ: Oh, man, wow, good question! I would have to say… Just off the top of my head, I would have to say Accept’s “Fast as a Shark”.
W (DD): That’s a great one, by the German legend Accept.
DJ: Yeah, that scream at the beginning, and then it just kicks in to that heavy riff, and… You know, I used to drive a Mustang, and I got so many speeding tickets in it from cranking metal and getting so excited, that I would just be doing 90 miles an hour before I knew it, and I kept getting too many speeding tickets, so I had to sell it.
W (DD): That’s a great story.
DJ: All right. Coming up next, let’s get to some music now, let’s bang our heads a little bit here, this is some great German metal, this is Udo and the boys, it’s Accept: “Fast as a Shark”!
That Metal Show is probably the biggest thing that I’ve done and the thing I’m most proud of”
W (DD): Don, so how was the beginning of That Metal Show? Do you remember the first time you spoke about it with Eddie and Jim?
DJ: Yes, we were in a gay bathhouse together, and we were washing each other in the Jacuzzi, and we started to… No, I’m just kidding! You know where it came from, it came from me and Jim would go up on Eddie’s radio show up in New York City, and we would basically just do what we do on That Metal Show now, we would start having these conversations about heavy metal, and, you know, get into the debates and, you know, talk about which is the best album of whatever band, and… It was basically… We were kind of doing that same thing on the radio. And then when he got more comfortable with us, he’d let us come around some of his guests, and so we both started interviewing the guests, and that was basically how it happened, we just… After a while, we said “Hey, I wonder if we could find anyone crazy enough to pay us to do this on TV” and luckily we did.
W (DD): That Metal Show is this huge success, so now you probably receive tons of compliments and nice comments from people in general, and I assume that probably several artists are fans from the show as well. So what was the ultimate compliment that you’ve already received from being on That Metal Show, the one you’ll never forget?
DJ: Well, every complement from a fan is the greatest. When we go to a rock show here in America, and I’m sure it will be the same down in Brazil, when we go to a rock show, people, hundreds of people come up to us and want pictures and autographs… And then people ask me, you know “Don’t you get sick of that?” and I say “No, I mean, why would I get sick of that? People love the show, you know, why would I care if everybody came up?” I think it’s great. When I was a comedian, playing in firehouses, you know, for ten people, nobody cared who I was. Now I have a show that, you know, touches people because they have a love for the same music that I do, and I don’t take that for granted. Every fan is important. So, you know, I think the complements from the fans are the most important. But as far as artists, I’ve been, you know… Again, this is incredible to think that, you know, Rob Halford watches our show all the time. You know, Slash watches our show all the time… You know, Bill Ward, from Black Sabbath is a huge fan of the show. So just that these artists even know the show, they come on the show, they really like the show and they get it… You know, Sammy Hagar loves the show, he bugged us to come back on again, you know, a second time, so that’s incredible. So I’m grateful that… Again, that we’re doing it for the fans, but also that the musicians respect us too.
W (DD): Yeah, it’s amazing. There’s one episode of That Metal Show that I thought was kind of weird but at the same time it was really awesome, was the one featuring Marilyn Manson, I think it was on season 9, or something like that. Any memories from that show in particular?
DJ: Oh, I have a lot of memories, but he probably doesn’t. He was pretty drunk, and, you know, he was drinking absinth on the show. I don’t know if you guys have absinth down there…
W (DD): Yeah, we do.
DJ: You know, here, look, this is the thing: that’s Marilyn Manson. So I want him to come on that way, you know. I mean, it was kind of like babysitting a five-year-old, but, you know, I don’t want a shiny, happy Manson. I want the rock star Manson. So, you know, it was great TV, people love to see a train wreck, and that’s kind of what it was. So, you know, there’s a lot of guys like that in metal, who, you know, divide the audience sometimes, like a Phillip Anselmo, or Dave Mustaine, you know, they have… Some people love them and some people hate them, but you know what? You’re always going to watch those guys, because you never know what they’re going to say, and that’s what I want them to come and the show and do, I want them to be themselves, I don’t want them to be “Oh, everybody’s great, everything’s great!” I want to see that Dave Mustaine snarl and he comes on, you know? I want Phil to get up, and like, flex his muscles and, you know, get all macho. Because that’s what those guys are all about, that’s why people tune in to see them, so… You know, that’s my feel on it.
W (DD): And you already mentioned Ozzy, who I think, it doesn’t get much funnier than that, and you also mentioned Alice Cooper and Ted Nugent, who are the other metal artist who you find funny?
DJ: Well, one of the funniest guys, unfortunately we lost him last year, was Pete Steele, from Type O Negative.
W (DD): Yes.
DJ: There’s always humor in their music, but also, if you’ve ever seen Type O Negative live, you know, he was always just so self deprecating, always making jokes about himself and the band. And he would say things like, you know “If you think we played that last song badly, wait until you hear how we butcher this next one.” There was always an element of comedy with him, and he was very dry, you know, which I loved about him, just very dry and straight humor. So I always loved Pete, and I’m a huge fan of Type O Negative, I try to talk about them as much as possible on the show.
W (DD): I’m pretty sure this is the first time in my life that I speak to an Emmy award winner. So congratulations on the award. And if you could think back, could you choose one moment in your career that you feel really proud of, that you think “Man, I did it”?
DJ: I’m proud of all of them, you know… But I’m most proud of That Metal Show, because it’s something that I created with my two best friends, and now I do with my two best friends on TV, and, you know, I’ve never… Put it this way, in my whole career, I’ve done some great things, but I’ve never been asked to talk to somebody in Brazil about it. So I’d have to say That Metal Show is probably the biggest thing that I’ve done and the thing I’m most proud of. The Emmy is cool, you know, to win an Emmy as a comedian on television is awesome, you know, and you get a nice statue. But at the end of the day, it really doesn’t mean that much to anybody in the audience, like, in a comedy club, you know, to say “Oh, he won an Emmy”, and if you’re not doing so good, they’re probably thinking “Hey, what happened to the Emmy winner? This guy sucks!” So, you know, it’s a nice thing to have, I’m glad that I won it. You know, when I was single I would put it by my bed, so when I brought girls home they’d hang out, you know, and maybe they’d let me get a little something.
W (DD): It’s a great pickup line.
DJ: Yeah, or, you know, and if they were going to give me a little bit, the Emmy would help me upgrade to something a little better.
My hero is Lemmy. “Don’t Let ‘Em Grind Ya Down” is the best advice you could ever give anybody.”
W (DD): Great, let’s just hear one more song. If you could choose a metal song that best represents what you are and what you believe in, which song would that be?
DJ: Motorhëad, “Don’t Let ‘Em Grind Ya Down”.
W (DD): Can you tell our listeners a little bit about Gunfire-N-Sodomy?
DJ: OK. Gunfire–N-Sodomy is my acoustic death metal band. It’s supposedly funny, but mostly, when I’m singing from audiences, it’s very scary. So we thought to work out the funny part, I think, but it’s acoustic death metal that nobody’s ever done before, and now I know why. But it’s me and a couple of my buddies, and we put on ski masks, and cover ourselves in blood, and sing songs about, you know, murdering and things like that. So it’s been fun to do just as a side project, but we got to open for Six Feet Under, and Gwar, and we do our own shows in the city all the time, New York City, so… And I put a few songs at the end of my comedy album as well.
W (DD): Still talking about that, what do you think about this intersection between metal and humor with things like Tenacious D, Beatallica or Spinal Tap? We even have our Brazilian version which is a band called Massacration.
DJ: What are they called?
W (DD): Massacration.
W (DD): That’s right.
DJ: Cool, I want to check them out! Yeah, I think some stuff works better than others, you know, Spinal Tap, definitely… You know, Spinal Tap was originally a satire on Saxon… The band Saxon?
W (DD): Yes, definitely.
DJ: That’s where the idea came from, when they saw a footage of Saxon, that’s where the idea for Spinal Tap came from. So, you know, I think those guys do well. There’s a band here in America called Steel Panther, you know them?
W (DD): Yeah, I know them, and there’s The Darkness as well, right? From England…
DJ: Yeah, The Darkness, from England, yeah, yeah. So there are a lot of them, you know, I’m not big on parodies and stuff, like I said, I like more kind of dry humor, so I don’t like stuff that’s over the top. But some of that stuff is really cool and funny, if they do it the right way. You know, that’s one of the great things about hard rock and metal, you know, it always has a sense of humor to it. Even some of the darkest stuff really have some humor to it.
W (DD): Don, we’re already reaching 20 minutes… I have, like, three or four questions, do you want me to stop here or can I go ahead?
DJ: No, come on! I’m talking to Brazil, man, let’s keep going!
W (DD): Excellent, thanks so much. We probably will start shortly our first effort, as a company, towards charity, and I know that you are involved with some organizations. Can you talk a little bit about your involvement with this?
DD: OK. Well, I work… I’ve done some stuff with an organization here called “Fallen Blue”, that helps the families of widows of police officers who are killed in the line of duty. Because my sister is married to a police officer, so… He’s still alive, luckily, but they have three children, and God forbid, you know, my brother-in-law gets shot, then my sister is a single mother with three kids, and how is she going to pay her bills and stuff like that, so… You know, I think about that all the time, so when this organization “Fallen Blue” came to me, and asked me to work with them, I said “Sure, I would love to”. You know, I donate to a lot of things, but I don’t like to talk about it, because I like to just do it in private, I don’t want to get any publicity.
W (DD): I’m sure you remember Sam Dunn’s first movie, “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”. It’s an awesome film… There’s this very funny part when Sam Dunn will try to interview the guys from Mayhem and they completely disregard him. You did tons of interviews with several artists. Did you have any moment like that so far?
DJ: You know, nobody’s… Everybody’s been awesome, but some people… My hero is Lemmy. Lemmy’s like, he’s…. That’s why I said that song “Don’t Let ‘Em Grind Ya Down”, it’s my favorite, because that’s the best advice you could ever give anybody. You know, don’t let anybody grind you down, don’t let anybody tell you how to live your life, don’t let anybody tell you what to do, you know, do what you want to do, and don’t worry about anybody else. And Lemmy is always full of that kind of wisdom, you know, all the time. They ask him “How has Motorhëad lasted so long?”, and he says “Because we never quit. If you don’t quit, they can’t get rid of you”. You know, and I love stuff like that. But as far as interviewing him, he’s tough, because he says a lot of one-word answers, and he has such a heavy accent, so sometimes when he does say something, you don’t even catch it. So, you know, I love the guy, he’s my hero, but sometimes – and he’s been on our show about four times now – sometimes he’s very tough to interview.
W (DD): Yeah. Every time I’m going to interview somebody – we’re already reaching episode 100, so we interview a bunch of people – every time I’m going to start an interview, I think “Well, maybe today will be my Mayhem moment.”
DJ: Right, exactly. You know, some people are better at doing interviews than others, like, even Slash said, on our show, he said “I’m sober now, three or four years, I’m just starting to get used to doing interviews sober, you know, because if I came on… If I did a show like this back when Guns’ N Roses were around, I would have to drink at least a bottle of Jack Daniels to be able to get through it.” You know, because inside he’s actually kind of a shy guy, and he doesn’t like to do publicity, so, you know, he would get really drunk for every interview. But some guys love to do it, you know, like you said. I mean, I’m sure Eddie talked enough for four, five, maybe six episodes.
Do what you want to do in life, whether you want to be a comedian, or a musician, or whatever, but do it for the love of doing it.”
W (DD): I know you’re a huge Thin Lizzy fan. What are your other favorite bands or artists of all times, besides Kiss, that you already mentioned?
DJ: Yes, Thin Lizzy, Motorhëad, Black Sabbath, AC/DC… You know, a lot of the classic bands, because we’re all in our mid-forties, so that’s where our roots are: Judas Priest, Sabbath, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Motorhëad. But there are a lot of new bands that I love as well, I love Amon Amarth, I love Catatonia… So, you know, I try to keep up with the newer stuff as well, because I can’t keep listening to the same 15 albums for the rest of my life, you know, you’ve got to find other stuff.
W (DD): And any Brazilian heavy metal band?
DJ: Oh, Sepultura. That’s from Brazil, right?
W (DD): Yes.
DJ: OK, Sepultura. I have to think about who else is from Brazil… I don’t know who else is from Brazil.
W (DD): There are several bands, if you like, maybe we can prepare a package of CDs and send it to you.
DJ: Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m just not remembering who’s from which countries, but if you want to e-mail me some suggestions, I would love to check it out.
W (DD): I’ll definitely do that, yes. We are almost reaching the end of our interview, but before we let you go, we usually ask musicians what would be their advice to young kids that are starting a music career, so what would you say to a young comedian or even to us, as a metal show that kicked-off, like, two years ago, what is your advice for someone starting a career?
DJ: Well, I would say it this way… Let me ask you a question, Daniel: why would you start doing Wikimetal?
W (DD): We started doing it because… Very similar to you guys, I’m doing this with two of my best friends in life, and we’d like to help the heavy metal scene here, and put the word out about these really, really great bands that are here in Brazil, that don’t have the deserved recognition and the deserved space…
DJ: Right, and because you love the music.
W (DD): Yes.
DJ: So that’s your answer right there. You know, do what you want to do in life, whether you want to be a comedian, or a musician, or whatever, but do it for the love of doing it. Don’t do it because you think you’re going to make ten million dollars and live in a big house and have a big car and lots of hot chicks. If you do it because you love it, you’ll get all that stuff. But you’ve got to do it just out of your heart, you know, like you said, we both do it with people that we love and that we care about and that care about the music that same way. So it has to come from that place, otherwise it’s phony. And that’s why the viewers of That Metal Show have stuck with us, because they know we’re not phonies, they know we love the music. If we like something, we say it, if we don’t like something we also say it, you know. We break each other’s balls every day on the show, but, you know, we’re still brothers, and that’s what it’s about, man. We’re all doing the same thing, we’re all trying to help keep the music that we love alive. Everybody: you, me, all the magazines, you know, all the radio stations that still play heavy metal, you know, just trying to keep our music out there and alive, because, hey, let’s face it: it is the greatest music on the planet.
W (DD): It is. Once again, Don, thanks so much for your time. I hope to get a chance to meet you, either in the US, or if you ever come down to Brazil, you can count on Wikimetal to promote That Metal Show, or anything you do in the future. Thanks so much, Mr. Don Jamieson.
DJ: Hey, thank you very much, and please send me the link, I want to send it out to everybody, and thanks to all our fans down there. I hope to come there someday, and we appreciate the support.
W (DD): Excellent, thanks so much, Don. Bye bye.
Listen to the full episode here: