TheFeed editor Stephen Johnson approached me the other day and asked if he could interview me for the website. After staring coldly into his dead eyes for well over 5 minutes, I responded with, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” “Because we’re posting Meet TheFeed interviews over the next few weeks, so that our audience can get to know the writers and what kinda games and tech they’re into.” “But I’m not really that into games and tech,” I fired back. “I know. You’re our edgy pop culture writer. That’s why I’m going to ask you about your music career and arrest record. I think our audience will find that far more interesting.” “What? Is this a f**king setup?!?! You’re trying to get me fired!” Johnson just cackled in that Wicked-Witch-of-the-West kinda way and flew away on his broom.
The next day he pulled me out onto the patio so he could look cool and smoke, and we did the following interview. Read if you dare…
Interview: Frank Meyer - Senior Content Producer
By: Stephen Johnson
Stephen: What do you do at G4?
Frank: I’m Sr. Interactive Content Producer.
Stephen: What does that mean?
Frank: I have no idea.
No, what it means is I produce much of G4’s multiplatform content, so I produce a lot of the podcasts, and video web exclusives, and a lot of the field pieces from things like E3, DICE and CES. Plus I produce a lot of our Verizon V-Cast and video-on-demand stuff. I helm Fresh Ink Online and created Freestyle 101, and I work on Sessler’s Soapbox with Patrick Roche-Sowa.
Stephen: You won some awards for Freestyle 101, right?
Frank: I did indeed. I won three awards for Freestyle 101 in 2008: A Webby, a Telly and a W3 award. And I got nominated for 2009 Webbies for Freestyle 101 and Fresh Ink. So there you go.
Stephen: Are you going to lord it over everyone you work with because you have so many Webbies?
Frank: Absolutely. I make all my friends and co-workers call me “Award Winning Frank Meyer” even in the most casual conversations.
Stephen: Where else have you worked besides G4?
Frank: I was one of the first bloggers at Variety.com. I was the Managing Editor KNAC.com at Clear Channel, the first big heavy metal online radio and web magazine. I was a publicist before that, so I worked at lots of record companies. I was at AVN magazine for awhile, where I got to see a lot of naked girls and get paid for it. That was a great job. And I do a lot of freelance writing for different magazines. I’ve written a couple books too. I co-wrote a book called On the Road with the Ramones with Monte A Melnick, the Ramones tour manager, and edited Neil Zlozower’s Van Halen: A Visual History 1978 - 1984. I produce a lot of music, rock and hip hop with my production team Messiaz , and have a kick ass hard rock band called Angus Khan. I also created the TV show Videogame Theater, which got picked up by MTV Europe for a 14-episode season that is available on DVD through Uproar / MVD.
Stephen: What is your favorite video game of all time?
Frank: Silent Hill. I’m a huge horror movie fan, and Silent Hill was the first game that I was completely terrified by. I got home one night, and I was a little buzzed, and I thought I’d put in this alleged horror game everyone was talking about. My girlfriend was asleep, I was by myself, and I started playing it and I was like, “Wow, this is pretty creepy…This is really creepy.” And by the time the lead gal was going through the deserted town and looking for the school with the mutant dogs chasing her, I was completely terrified.
I also didn’t play with my console much at that time, so I had no idea that the controller vibrated; that the thing had the power to shake. And suddenly the controller started shaking and I literally screamed. That’s the only game that ever made me scream like a girl.
Stephen: As a guy who has played in several rock bands, how do you feel about Guitar Hero and Rock Band?
Frank: I used to have a snobby attitude about Guitar Hero and Rock Band. People would say, “Have you played Guitar Hero? And I’d say, “No. I am a Guitar Hero. Check Guitar Player magazine in 2000, bitch!” People would say, “Have you played Rock Band?” And I’d say, “No, but I have an actual rock band, full of real people who play actual instruments.”
But I’ve changed my opinion quite a bit. Some of it is because rock and roll is dying as a genre. I was genuinely scared that rock music was going to become like jazz, this obscure thing that was totally disconnected from the youth, and was the sort of music only your parents like. But I think Rock Band and Guitar Hero have almost single-handedly changed that and saved rock. Now you have all these little kids familiar with Blondie or RATT or Foghat and all this other rock from the ‘70s and ‘80s that they might have never heard.
I do think being an actual guitar player hinders you from playing the video game well, so as a guitar player, I suuuuck at those games. But they are keeping the music alive, so WTF.
Stephen: Will good bands come out of kids playing the game?
Frank: No. Or at least no more than would come out of video gamers listening to Heavy Metal or Hip Hop. If a bunch of gamers hear music, a certain percentage of them will be inspired, or connect with it on a deeper level than the rest. So you’d hope they’d go on to play instruments, start bands or at least program beats.
Stephen: I’m going to totally switch gears here and ask you: How many times have you been arrested?
Frank: I would rather not answer that question. But I will tell you about the funniest time I was arrested. All charges were dropped, so I’m happy to tell the story. Any other stories I can neither confirm nor deny.
Stephen: No problem. Tell the story!
Frank: Okay, I play in a band called Angus Khan, and the bass player of Angus Khan and I used to play in a band called The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs . We were a punk band out of L.A. and we were kind of notorious for being rambunctious onstage. We’d run around, smash things, jump off the stage, and generally make a complete spectacle of ourselves. We were often rewarded for this behavior by getting awards and stuff: “Best Punk Band” “Best Rock Band,” “Best Live Act,” etc.
So we were nominated for an L.A. Weekly Award for Best Punk Band one year. The L.A. Weekly has a big awards show that takes place every year at somewhere nice, like the Henry Fonda Theater in L.A. This was not the normal punk rock dive we’d usually play. The Fonda is a really nice theater that typically wouldn’t have a band like us. So we were going to go up there and perform one of our poppier, more accessible songs, thinking, “This is a big opportunity to show the L.A. public that we were more than just a wild punk band. That we can go up there and do a solid song.” We thought that was a good idea.
There was a great band at the time called Betty Blowtorch, and they were nominated too. And they played right before us, and were fantastic. So we were sitting backstage thinking, “Oh, now we’re being challenged; we can’t go up there and play nice. We have to go up there and blow the place apart. So screw doing the pop song. Let’s do one of our really out-of-control songs.” Generally those are songs with a long solo section in the middle, and myself, the other guitar player and the bass player would leap into the crowd and climb things and smash things and go crazy. So we decided to do that instead.
We get up there and start playing, and the solo section hits, and I leap into the crowd. Of course, neither the bass player nor the other guitarist follow me. They decided this wasn’t the right venue for that. But I went ahead and did it. This was a theater, so it was rows of seats, and in the front rows of seats it was all “Lifetime Achievement Winners,” all these old jazz and blues cats. And me, this wild punk rocker, goes leaping into a crowd of all elderly people!
They are absolutely shocked and terrified, and they run out of their seats like the plague has been unleashed. As I’m climbing over the seats, the people are parting like the red sea. My shoe gets stuck in one seat, so I pull it off and throw it into the audience. And then some woman stands up. She’s horrified. I guess she felt we were making a mockery of this dignified awards show, so she took a full water bottle and threw it at my head.
But I catch it. While I’m soloing, I somehow manage to grab the water bottle, unscrew it, drink the water, spit it back in her face, and hurl the plastic bottle right back at her.
Some person in the crowd runs to security, and says, “There’s a maniac running around throwing beer bottles and shoes at people!”
Security runs out to the cops out in the street and tells them, “There’s some maniac onstage assaulting members of the audience!”
So now we’re playing another song, backing the rock legend Wayne Kramer of the MC5, when I look to the side of the stage, and there are a coupla cops waiting for me. They are glaring at me on stage, dangling handcuffs, and pointing their fingers like, “Come here, kid.”
So we finish the tune, I take off my guitar, walk off stage, and they cuff me. But rather than walk me out the back door, they walk me off the stage, down the center aisle, through the middle of the theater, as photographers are taking pictures and people are either cheering or screaming, “Get that man out of here! I’ve never seen anything so horrible!”
Stephen: Ha ha ha! But no charges?
Frank: The cops took me downstairs, they questioned me. Once they found out it wasn’t a beer bottle and no one was hurt, they let me go. I wasn’t charged.
The next day a big article came out in L.A. Times, and it was all about how I had destroyed the L.A. Weekly music awards. When L.A. Weekly ran their story about the event, there was no mention of it. No photos. No mention of the band. Like it didn’t happen.
And from then on, every time the band played locally, the write-ups in the Weekly would say things like, “Frank Meyer and his band of complete a**holes, will be playing at Al’s Bar. You’d be best to avoid the show at all costs.” Then they ignored us… so we shot ourselves right in the foot. This was an ongoing pattern in The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs.
Stephen: Who would win in a fight between everyone on TheFeed?
Frank: Clearly me.
Stephen: Well, let’s take you out of the mix…
Frank: I feel like Mike D’Alonzo has a lot of internal rage that’s ready to come out in fisticuffs. I feel like Dana Vinson has a lot going for her, but she’d be really easily emotionally shattered. She has too much heart. You could make her feel bad about even being in the fight. But if Dana wanted to fight, she could kill us all.
Stephen: Do you have any Parting Advice for the readers?
Frank: Stay away from Mike D and Dana V! Also, support what you love: keep buying games and comic books. And rock!!!