Metal is important to people, it gives them a place to belong, it’s a part of identity, it’s really part of who we are as people. “
SD: Hi, Nando.
W (Nando Machado): Hey, Sam.
SD: How are you?
W (NM): Good, man, nice talking to you. Such a long time.
SD Sorry to keep you waiting, I just had to step out for a second, but I’m glad that you stayed on the line.
W (NM): So, cool, man. First of all let me congratulate you on your baby.
SD Thank you.
W (NM): Excellent, excellent. I’m here with my cohost Daniel.
W(Daniel Dystyler): Hi, Sam, how are you?
SD Very good, how are you doing?
W (DD): Yeah, this is Daniel. First, I’d like to thank you very much, ‘cause I spent a considerable fair amount of time of my life explaining, arguing, discussing and trying to convince people of why Heavy Metal is so special and not something directly tied to criminals or bad person or that is not an inferior type of music. And your movies, I think they are the only structure and consistent effort so far in history to explain the Metal movement in a way that it doesn’t make Heavy Metal fans look like idiots. So, thank you very much for that and welcome to the Wikimetal show.
SD: Thanks very much, it’s our pleasure. I’m glad we can do something for Metal, thanks for having me.
W (NM): Sam, let me ask you, how did you start working with Scot and how hard was to convince him to do documentaries about Heavy Metal, since we know he’s not a Metal head like you?
SD: Well, Scot had worked in film long before I did and he worked as a music supervisor and he was very involved in film and TV and I was doing my Master’s degree in anthropology and originally I just wanted to write a book about the history of Heavy Metal, because I really felt at that time, and this is going back to around 99 and 2000, it really haven’t been done before and Scot said “What about doing a documentary?” and then we looked into it and discovered that there really had never been a thoughtful in depth documentary made about Metal music. And we just thought there was a huge opportunity to do something that could be both for Metal fans but also for not Metal fans, to give them just a different perspective on the people that listen to the music and the people that create this music.
W (DD): You had opportunity to talk to so many great heroes like Tony Iommi, Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, and so on. Being a Metal fan as you are, can you highlight any special moment that you will remember forever?
SD: Well, I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve been able to meet a lot of the heroes that I grew up listening to, everyone from Dickinson of Iron Maiden, to Tony Iommi and on and on, and I guess now, doing this new show “Metal Evolution”, which is eleven one hour episodes on the history of Metal I wondered whether I was going to be able to have that same feeling of meeting someone so special. But I gotta say that having the opportunity to interview Bill Ward and Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath was pretty special. Bill Ward specially, gave a lot of his time and a lot of his thoughts and input for the series and I think a lot of what he says about Metal, the kinds of music that he grew up listening to, which was like Jazz, early Rock and Roll and Blues music is really gonna expand people’s ideas of where Metal comes from.
W (DD): I was thinking that on the “Metal Evolution” series, you show yourself arriving at his house and it’s a very nice place, right?
SD: Well, actually, I think you’re thinking of the first film “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey” when I interviewed Tony Iommi in England and actually, a lot of people think that’s his house, but his house was being renovated, so it’s actually an Inn nearby. But, hey, if it looks like I’m going to Tony Iommi’s house, that’s pretty cool with me.
Black Sabbath” is really the first definitive Heavy Metal song. It had a darker, heavier sound than anything that had come before”
W (NM): So, Sam, let me ask you, how did you first get in touch with the Metal world and if you could choose one song that would represent these first years, which song would that be?
SD: I think for a lot of people Black Sabbath is starting point for Heavy Metal and there’s a good argument that the first song of the first Black Sabbath record, the song “Black Sabbath” is really the first definitive Heavy Metal song and it had a darker, heavier sound than anything that had come before, people had been playing with distortion and people had been playing songs with power chords and all that sort of thing, but I think what Sabbath did, they brought it all into one package. There was the heaviness of the music, there was the darkness of the lyrics, there was the album art and they were the first band to really create this entire package, which felt like something very new. As we learn in “Metal Evolution”, in the first episode, Bill and Geezer talk about “Well, that song for us actually came from a classical composition from Gustav Holst”, “The Planets Sweep” it’s called, it’s very sort of ominous classical composition and they loved the sound of that and they were just playing around with it on their guitars and on the bass and Tony came up with a slightly different way of playing it and that ended up being the very memorable first riff on that first Sabbath album.
W (NM): And do you remember who showed you Heavy Metal for the first time? Maybe a neighbor or an older brother or something. And what was the first Metal music you ever heard, do you remember that?
SD: Well, I was a teenager in the 80’s, so that was a time when Glam Metal was really popular and was on the music video channels. I was exposed to bands like Twisted Sister and Ratt and Mötley Crüe and Van Halen when I was like 9 years old. But I think the first time I really heard something that felt very different and just had that really heavy and rebellious feel to it was… I had an older friend who was a guitar player and he played me “Ride the Lightning” by Metallica and I remember hearing the first song “Fight Fire With Fire”, and compared to Van Halen “Hot For Teacher”, it was like someone just peeled off a whole other layer of what Metal could be and I remember just being blown away by that sound. I didn’t think that music could sound like that, I didn’t think that you could make sounds like that, until I heard that Metallica record and then of course from then on was like hooked for life.
W (NM): So, which song of that record would you like to listen to on our show right now, we can play it.
SD: Well, why don’t we do “Fight Fire With Fire”, it’s a definitive Trash anthem and Metallica, say what you will about them, they’ve had their ups and downs, people haven’t always agreed with what they’ve done in their career, but we have to remember that this is a band that without a question started Trash Metal and for me that was and still is my favorite genre of Metal. So, yeah, “Fight Fire With Fire”, it rocks.
W (DD): Sam, we’ve interviewed a bunch of great artists so far like Ian Gillan, Zakk Wylde, Phil Anselmo, Glenn Tipton and every time I’m gonna start an interview it just comes into my mind something like saying “I think maybe now it’s gonna be my Mayhem moment” and that’s because I remember that interview you had with Mayhem on your first movie. Can you share a little bit how was that experience?
SD: Well, you know, we went to ‘Wacken’ in 2004 to interview a bunch of bands, Ronnie James Dio and a few other artists and one of them was Mayhem, and we knew we wanted to do a chapter on Black Metal in that movie and I was actually really interested in talking with them about the history of Norwegian Black Metal, where it came from, the influences, why is there a controversy that surrounds this style and needless to say, completely went off the rails. And I don’t think they were taking the interview very seriously, I think they thought that it was just a student film that we were making, that it was a low budget thing, but the funny thing is that we originally weren’t gonna put it in the film, because we thought it was a completely lost cause and the Scot said “You know, maybe we should take another look at that Mayhem interview, I remember it being pretty funny” and we put it in the film because at the end of the day we want to create films that not only give people a lot of information, a lot of insight into Metal, but we also want to keep them entertaining. And humor is important when you’re making films, and so that just ended up being a funny in the moment and it’s become this legendary – no, that’s a too big word – notorious moment in the film, that everyone seems to love.
I didn’t think that you could make sounds like that, until I heard Metallica. And then I was hooked for life.”
W (NM): After your first films, there were so many films being made about Metal. You know, Lemmy’s, there’s a good one called “Heavy Metal in Bagda”, Anvil’s was a hit, Rat Skates from Overkill are doing some films as well, “The History of Trash Metal”, so many. Which are your favorite ones, apart from your own?
SD: I’m a big fan of the Anvil movie. Because I think it’s just a great story and I know that than and I know that everything they’ve been through. Granted it’s not always the happy story, but I think that I really admire the band for doing it and I thought the filmmaker did a great job and it’s just a very touching story. I thought it’s one of the greatest Metal films of all time.
W (DD): And it’s from Canada.
SD: And, of course, it’s from Canada. So maybe I’m a little biased.
W (DD): Let me go to one point that you touched briefly, I’d like you to comment a little more. One of the reasons that everybody condemns and treats Heavy Metal so badly is the fact that the bands and the music they touch topics that goes through obscure and dark aspects of the human existence. And being Metal fans, we know that there’s nothing wrong on enjoying Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast”, Venom or Slayer or even more extreme bands. So how do you fell about that Black Metal scene in Galway, where I think a line was definitely crossed and the consequences that that brings to the Heavy Metal community?
SD: Well, like I said in “Headbanger’s Journey”, I’m a big fan of a lot of the bands that have come out of Norway, specially a band like “Enslaved” which I think has really matured from being a pretty straight forward Norwegian Black Metal band to being this great Prog meets Extreme Metal band. But when it came to what happened with the church burning and the murder and everything, I think for a lot of people, not just me, it did cross the line. It was no longer about the music and Metal is important to people, it gives them a place to belong, it’s a part of identity, it’s really part of who we are as people. But I don’t think that necessarily means that it has to influence your actions on political or religious level. From a historical point of view I can understand what happened in Norway, because Norway was a pagan country for a very long time and Christianity came quite late to that country. The traditional ways of life in Norway were forcibly removed when Christianity arrived around 1080’s. So, I can understand that people felt that was a real injustice to their culture and to their country, but at the same time I don’t think it necessarily means that you have to go killing people and burning down what, to my eyes, are magnificent examples of architecture and history. I guess that was how I felt, I just felt that – although it’s not really for me to say, because I’m not Norwegian, I’m not from there, this is not my culture – but from my outsider observer’s point of view, it seemed too far.
W (NM): We have a traditional question, one that we ask every single person we interview is that… just imagine yourself driving or at home, with your iPod on shuffle mode, and then a song comes up that you just can’t control yourself, and you start headbanging wherever you might me. Which song would that be, so we can listen to that one right now?
SD: There’s a lot of them, but I think “Raining Blood” by Slayer that song, which is just like… it doesn’t get better than that.
W (NM): Your right. The whole album, but that song in particular is really, really good. So we’re listening to “Raining blood” by Slayer, right now.
W (DD): Sam, “Metal Evolution” still was not aired here in Brazil, but I had the opportunity to watch two episodes and I’m very excited to watch the whole series because you captured so many great and historic moments of the Metal community like the one of the end of episode three when Rob Halford looks to the camera and says “Yeah, we are proud of being Heavy Metal” and makes the horns sign. Can you share with our listeners the moments that you were really proud that you were able to capture on camera?
SD: Oh, that moment I think is really important and I’m glad that you brought it up, because I think what we really review in the series is that “Heavy Metal” was not a popular term when people started to use it in the late 60’s and into the early 70’s, you know? Even though these great bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin created that sound that got identified as being Metal, they didn’t see themselves as being Heavy Metal, it was still like a foreign concept, a foreign term to them. They saw themselves as being Hard Rock bands and I think what is very important is that when Judas Priest began to gain momentum popularity in the late 70’s and then into the early 80’s, this was the first band and Rob Halford was really the first musician to stand up and say that we are Metal and that took a really important turning point in this music because it goes from being the thing that people were avoiding or even being ashamed of, to being this thing that is actually an identity and a badge of honor and I think that if Metal, like we have always argued, is a lifestyle and is a culture, then that’s when that starts, is when Halford stands up and says “We are Metal”.
You can’t think of bands like Metallica of Iron Maiden or hundreds of bands without that sound that Led Zeppelin was the first on to do it.”
W (NM): So, taking advantage of what you just said, on the “Metal Evolution” series, there’s a part when you’re in England, at the office of Robert Plant’s manager, and you mention that you are so close and at the same time so far from the legends of Led Zeppelin and then you specifically address the camera saying that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, they don’t want to be associated with Heavy Metal, although they’re very influential. What do you think about that?
SD: Well, I really wanted to do an interview with Page and Plant for the series and we also approached John Paul Jones, but none of them wanted to be involved. Of course, from our perspective as filmmakers, it’s disappointing because Led Zeppelin is this band that so many generations of Rock and Metal bands were influenced by. And yet for them this term “Heavy Metal” still has this very strong stigma, that’s very limiting, like that it don’t capture really what Led Zeppelin is about. And I understand that, that’s totally fair and it makes a lot of sense, however I was just hoping to get the opportunity to have them talk about and speculate why so many people were influenced by what they did and get them to tell us what exactly they did with music that was so innovative at that time. So that was really what the show is about, about the evolution of sound, the evolution of music and Led Zeppelin is such a critical piece, because Plant has that high range real powerful voice and Page, of course, had this distorted guitar tone and if you think of a song like “Communication Breakdown”, on the first Led Zeppelin record, this is really the first time we hear that fast repetitive guitar riff. Which you can’t think of bands like Metallica or Iron Maiden or hundreds of hundreds of bands without that sound and really Led Zeppelin was the first on to do it.
W (DD): Changing a little bit the subject, we just had a situation here in Brazil a couple of weeks ago, where the lead singer of a band called Almah, which is the same lead singer of Angra, you might know, he just posted a video where he says that the Metal fans in Brazil don’t support local bands enough, they only go to international band’s concerts and so on, and it was a very aggressive way, the way he addressed the people.
W (NM): It was just after a show that didn’t have a lot of people.
W (DD): There was only a hundred people. So, do you think that this is something that happens everywhere, this lack of support to the local bands or is something specifically of Brazil or is different in other markets, how do you see that?
SD: I think it happens everywhere. It’s a weird human phenomenon where we’re always more fascinated by the things that come from elsewhere and Canada is no exception. We have some fantastic Metal bands that have come out of this country, like Voivod and Strapping Young Lad and even Death Metal bands like Gorguts and Annihilator, all these bands, that are really great bands, but Canadians don’t tend to know about the significance of these artists until we go traveling around the world and I tell people “I’m from Canada” and they go “Yeah, we love Voivod, we love Sacrifice, we love all these bands”. So I think it’s a very human thing and I understand why musicians in Brazil would be very frustrated, because I think it’s something that people face everywhere. I remember when I went to Norway to film “Headbanger’s Journey”, talking to people from Oslo. At that time I was really excited about the new Dimmu Borgir album and a guy turned to me and was like “I don’t understand, one of those guys used to deliver my milk”. So, I think it’s a very human thing to be fascinated by things that come from elsewhere, but I totally understand the frustration of the guys in Brazil.
W (NM): As a bass player, did you ever feel frustrated for not being able to make a living out of playing in a band? Specially after spending so much time with all those legends, can we expect something from Sam Dunn as a musician in the future?
SD: There was a brief moment when I was interested in pursuing music professionally, but I think at the end of the day I realized, first of all, how hard it is and perhaps doubted my talents maybe a little too much. I always wanted to be able to play music, but not necessarily pursued as a career. And now, making films and TV about Metal and Rock music is working out for… I think I’m able to be much more effective this way than being a performer on stage.
Rob Halford was really the first musician to stand up and say that we are Metal. That was a really important turning point in this music”
W (DD): Now it’s my time to ask you to choose a song. There’s a lot of prejudice against new bands from the older fans. A lot of Metal fans, they think that Metal was only good in the 80’s and this is so not true. What, in your opinion, are the most important bands that appeared in the world in the last 15 years and could you choose one song from a new band that would prove that there are great new bands in the present so we can hear it now in the show?
SD: Yeah, I think there’s some fantastic bands that have come up in the last ten years, some of my favorites are Opeth, Mastodon, of course Lamb of God. These are bands that have proven themselves that we know that these bands are not just a flash in the pan. Of course, there’s hundreds and hundreds of other bands that have appeared even more recently, but I always like to kind of give a shout out to the bands that are in that place in their career where they are now part of the history books of Heavy Metal. So if I had to pick a song, I’d love to hear the first track of the new Mastodon record called “Black Tongue”.
W (NM): So, let me ask you something, what are your plans for the future?
SD: Well, we have two new projects. The first we’re doing a documentary on Alice Cooper, which is going to focus from the beginning of his career to his come-back in the 80’s. So, the Alice Cooper documentary is going to be like a semi-animated archival journey through most of the career of Alice Cooper and he’s again one of these legendary artists whose story has never been told, so we feel that he’s such an engaging character and has such a fascinating personal and professional career, it could be a great documentary. The other film we’re working on which stood up a little bit of controversy. We’re doing a modern history of Satan. So we’re looking at influence of Satan in popular culture, from the 60’s to present day, so we’re looking at the rise of the use of images of te devil in film, music and literature and into contemporary culture, where even though in a lot of parts of the world religion is declining in belief and perhaps spiritual forces, the image of Satan still remains very powerful and very evocative. So, basically, the question of the film is asking why that is, why Satan still matters.
W (DD): Sam, before we finish, I need to tell you this because a couple of years ago, when I finished watching your first movie for the first time I told myself that if I ever had the opportunity to talk to you, I would tell you this: the last five minutes of the movie “Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey”, when you say that we, Metal fans, celebrate what society denies, we indulge what society fears, and then starts that middle part of Master of Puppets, and then comes all those statements of how Metal is important on peoples lives and the closing of the movie, with you saying “If you don’t understand Metal, that’s ok, we don’t need you”, that’s just the most phenomenal thing that anybody has ever created in terms of defending Heavy Metal. So, in the name of all Brazilian Metal fans, thank you very much.
SD: Well, thank you, I appreciate that and I actually just got goosebumps again when you were talking about it.
W (NM): So did I, Sam, so did I. You know, for us , we’ve been Metal fans for the last 28 years, it’s really emotional to hear something so well constructed like that, so thank you, thank you once again.
SD: My pleasure, and thank’ for having me, guys. Sorry this took so long, but I’m glad we could make it happen.
W (NM): It was a pleasure, man. Can you just leave a last message to all the Brazilian Metal fans?
SD: Yeah, absolutely. This is Sam Dunn, from Banger Films in Canada and I just want to say to all the Brazilian Metal fans thank you so much for supporting us in the films that we’ve made and being a part where many of the films we made, like Global Metal and 666. We love Brazil and can’t wait to see you all again soon.
W (NM): All right, Sam, so thank you once again so much for your time. We’re sorry we took so much of your time, but I think we have two episodes on this interview. Anytime you need, anything from Brazil at all, just count on us, give it a shout. We’ll be here ready to support anything you do, ok?
SD: Thank you very much, thanks, guys.
W (DD): Thanks, Sam. Thank you very much.
SD: Take care.
W (DD): Bye, bye.
SD: Bye, bye.