Tales From the Stage by Michael Toney

Way back on June 29th I posted about the new release of the book “Tales from the Stage” by Michael Toney. Due to time away and the down-time from redesigning and rebranding the site, it took me a little while to sit down and read this book. I would never make it as a book reviewer. I read way too slow. An album I can sit down with and listen to in an hour or so, but a book, unless I can focus all my attention on it, will usually take me several weeks. So, in the spirit of better late than never, I give you “Tales from the Stage.”

Author Michael Toney (who also plays drums) is a fellow Michigan native who currently resides in Las Vegas. In “Tales from the Stage” Michael sits down to interview fifteen people from various areas of the hard rock and heavy metal world. This includes musicians, such as Tim “Ripper” Owens, Tracii Guns and Steve “Lips” Kudlow, as well as media personalities like Eddie Trunk and Metal Blade label owner Brian Slagel.

Michael phrases his questions in such a way as to walk the reader through the various eras of the interviewee’s career, but he also asks questions that typical interviewers do not. Some questions are particular to the person he is interviewing, but other questions get asked of everyone, such as “What vehicles do you own?” or “Should marijuana be legalized?” I found myself to be always waiting for these types of questions (they seem to be mostly found towards the end of the interviews) because it was fascinating to see how all the different people answered and the trends that formed. In fact, at the beginning of the book Michael provides some statistics based on the analysis of these common questions. Interesting stuff!

The only person in the book I was not previously aware of was drummer Brian Tichy. I have apparently heard him before, but I did not know his name. Everyone else I had at least a passing knowledge of, and thus I found all the interviews particularly engaging. My favorites included Chris Holmes and Steve “Lips” Kudlow from the pool of musicians. I have been a fan of these guys for years, so it was entertaining to read about them; Chris, because I have not heard much from him since his ill-fated appearance in “The Decline of Western Civilization part II: The Metal Years,” and Lips because they talk about how the Anvil documentary came to be and what has happened since.

Two other interviews that caught my attention were the ones with Eddie Trunk and Brian Slagel; musicians get interviewed all the time, many of them by Eddie Trunk, but to hear Eddie’s story was something new for me. Brian Slagel. The name is legend. Founder of Metal Blade records, Brian is responsible for bringing us so many brilliant albums over the years, but I rarely hear anything about the man himself. I love that Michael interviewed him.

I could go on, but that would take all the fun out of discovering this book. Pick up the book for yourself at Tales from the Stage. I enjoyed this book immensely. It made me want to reconnect with some artists I have not listened to in years. It may do the same for you, or even introduce you to some great music you never even knew existed. Go show Michael some love!