My “That Metal Show” Experience


 

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I have been a diehard fan of That Metal Show since the program first aired on VH1 Classic back in November 2008. (It’s hard to believe that the show is approaching its 7-year anniversary.) Yesterday (Tuesday, 4/14), I had the opportunity to attend a taping of the show in its home turf of New York City. Not only did I have a blast, but I got a rare inside look at the production of the show and how each individual segment is shot.

The show is filmed at Metropolis Studios on 105 E 106th St in East Harlem. Located directly next to an Evangelical church, this building looked like the last place a hard rock/heavy metal program would be shot. However, as I approached the line outside the door and saw a sea of black band t-shirts, I knew I had arrived at the right place.

Check in time was at 4:30pm (this was taping #2 for the day), and we were given an official TMS lanyard. As the audience entered through the doors, we were led into a large waiting room that reminded me of a high school cafeteria (that brought back some bad memories). We were then seated and given instructions on what would happen once the first taping wrapped up.

After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally asked to line up according to wristband color, with silver being first. My head in the clouds with excitement, I didn’t even realize that the wristbands had colors, so there I was at the front of the line sporting my black wristband. However, the event coordinator was a cool chick, and she allowed my guest and I to cut ahead anyway. Ms. Event Coordinator, if you are reading this right now, I just want to say that you are awesome and I will happily father your children. (Ok, maybe that’s a bit much.)

As we proceeded up several grey staircases (I felt like I was switching classes in-between bells), we finally arrived at the studio, which looks even cooler in person than it does on TV. A production assistant ushered us to our seats, which were located at the top of the center bleacher. Check out this cool areal shot I snapped before show time.

The stage is set!

The TMS stage is set!

 

Before cameras began rolling, the stage manager (who looked similar to Cuba Gooding Jr.) guided us through the standard TV taping procedures. It is interesting to note that a lot of the crowd applause and audience reaction shots are filmed before Eddie, Don and Jim even take the stage. So, if you see a shot of my handsome mug listening intently as Ace Frehley is talking about being 8-years sober, that was filmed before the actual interview, people!

As I alluded to above, the guests for this taping (which will air on Saturday, April 25th) were the Spaceman himself, Ace Frehley, as well as original Grand Funk Railroad guitarist and singer Mark Farner. I have to admit, I was a little let down that I missed out on seeing Kirk Hammet and Michael Schenker, who were the guests on the previous taping. However, my disappointment was quickly washed away as the taping commenced.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest KISS fan in the world, and I couldn’t tell you two Grand Funk songs. Nevertheless, this episode was a lot of fun to watch being taped, and I can’t wait to see how it comes across on TV. Ace Frehley is a man that has been everywhere and done everything (and every substance), which he always speaks very candidly about. He brings a sort of funny innocence with him during interviews that is always a joy to watch. Mark Farner just strikes me as a laid back, easy going guy who you could sit down, have a few beers with, and listen to some great rock n’ roll road stories.

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Jim Florentine and Don Jamieson talk to Mark and Ace during a break.

 

The guest guitarist for this episode was 28-year-old shred vixen Nita Strauss, who can currently be seen as part of Alice Cooper’s touring line-up. Besides being stunningly beautiful, Nita is also quite the formidable axe slinger, and a consummate professional. In what was one of the most adorable double takes I have ever seen, Nita timidly asked if she could redo one of her solos because she got nervous when her eye caught a glimpse of Ace Frehley while she was playing. (This made me fall even deeper in love with her.) Check out this short video that I managed to capture of Nita shredding during sound check.

My only wish is that I would have been selected for “Stump The Trunk”, but perhaps my obscure Dream Theater-related question wasn’t the best fit for the theme of this particular episode… Regardless, this was a fun experience that I will never forget. If you are a fan of the show and would like the opportunity to be in the audience, you can apply here. But hurry up, because there is only one more taping (5/5) left in the season!

That's a wrap!

That’s a wrap!

Make sure to check out That Metal Show on Saturday at 9/8C on VH1 Classic. This Saturday (4/18) features Kirk Hammet and Michael Schenker, and next Saturday (4/25) features Ace Frehley and Mark Farner (and yours truly in the audience). Full episodes can be viewed online here. 

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Follow me on twitter @collinMHW

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