Eric Braverman: Founder of Heavy Metal Television

Eric Braverman, founder of Heavy Metal Television, photographed at Asylum Records in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Eric Braverman, founder of Heavy Metal Television, photographed at Asylum Records in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Eric Braverman

Eric Braverman is one of heavy metal’s self-proclaimed biggest fans. The 48-year-old Phoenix resident has done everything imaginable in the heavy metal world – he’s toured with famous musicians (Flotsam and Jetsam), shot band documentaries (including the Metallica fan film Metallimania), and hosted radio shows playing metal music. Now, he’s created, he says, the first-ever Internet music television channel,

The site is a 24-hour-a-day display of heavy metal music videos spanning the past 40 years, with a crew of about a dozen VJs at the helm of the channel. More than 200,000 unique IP addresses have logged on to the channel since it launched in October 2012, and Braverman says he may extend the constant streaming idea to other types of content.

The Heavy Metal Television crew is heading to their first music trade show, hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants, in Anaheim, Calif. this month. Keep reading to learn more about Braverman’s colored past in the world of heavy metal, as well as to hear him say five reasons why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents brought me to Arizona in an airplane when I was 4 years old from Buffalo, New York. I went to Agua Fria High School and University of Arizona.

How did you get involved with the music business?

When I was a student at U of A, I met a guy named Jason Newsted who played bass on Metallica’s Black Album. He had me start working for him, and I ended up going to Europe with him and got involved with music professionally.

I’m the only guy in music who’s done everything. I was a music reporter who has interviewed KISS and W.A.S.P. and created my own glossy music magazine, Loud Magazine. I’ve written songs. I was a tour manager for Flotsam and Jetsam. I had my own production company. I had my own radio show. I worked with record companies. I’ve worked with every promoter in town at some point.

I’ve played in bands, including one called Electric Pickle, where we electrocuted a pickle on stage. I’ve made videos for bands, and a few videos you can get on Netflix. One is Metallimania, which is making fun of Metallica and their fans. Judas Priest, Slayer and Madonna are in it.

What was it like to interview Madonna?

Kind of disappointing, because she’s really nice and polite. You think there’s going to be some kind of intimidation, but she was a very demure and nice lady.

What’s your first memory of being interested in heavy metal, and how would you define heavy metal?

It would probably be when I was around 12, going to a KISS concert at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Also, some kid gave me the AC/DC album, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It.

There’s no definition for heavy metal, but it has to have that attitude or the right guitar work and actual strong singing. As long as it’s heavy in lyrics or song construction, you could call it heavy metal.

What keeps you passionate about heavy metal today?

The power of it. There’s theatrical stuff. Metal musicians are the best musicians and put the most in their music. Just the bigness of it – the big sound, the simple elements, the production, the imagery.

How did Heavy Metal Television come about?

I was working on a project called The Greatest Music Ever Created and How It Ruined Our Lives for a British heavy metal magazine called Metal Hammer, which was a video series where we’d interview metal musicians. It was difficult to work with the magazine, and I had the idea to create a television show on our own. We started working on it in July 2012, received seed money, and released it to the public in November 2012. There are about 24 people on our team now, including about 10 VJs.

What do you look for in a VJ?

Personality. An interest in doing it, so they’re dedicated. Different than the last one, so they’re not all the same, but mostly enthusiasm to do it. We’re always open to anyone wanting to get involved with any aspect of Heavy Metal Television.

How do you get your videos?

In every way you could imagine. I’ve taken them from my personal collection. Record companies send us videos. Some record companies open a digital video vault, give us the link, and say, “Please close this when you’re done.” We take ones off the Internet we want to play.

How do you create your playlists?

We have about 4,000 videos in our collection now, and I try to make a playlist that doesn’t ghettoize anything, that shows a 40-year history of heavy metal every hour. It might go from Led Zeppelin, to Thin Lizzy, to Butcher Babies and Five Finger Death Punch, to Metallica, to Slayer.

It’s never “hair metal time” or “death metal time.” It’s all the types of metal in an educational way, that flows like a radio station. I am constantly getting ideas from metal fans on how to shape the playlist.

What’s your favorite heavy metal band?

My favorites are AC/DC, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne with Tony Iommi or Randy Rhoads, Slayer, and Metallica. They cover everything. They’re the most powerful, most talented, most successful, and best songwriters.

Who’s your favorite current local metal band?

ST. MADNESS is great. They’re so theatrical and crazy and have been around for almost 20 years.

What are your goals?

The goal is to make Heavy Metal Television a more known thing and introduce more original programming, and then create other networks as part of our business model. We’re currently talking to an auto racing company about creating a channel for them.

What advice would you have for someone who wants to try a similar Internet television channel?

Make sure you have a backup source of income until you start making money, and no matter what anyone says, keep doing it. Life is about confrontation. If you’re not going to confront things, then don’t do it. Without confrontation, nothing gets done, and everything stays the same.

What makes a great heavy metal video?

A great song and crazy imagery. Heavy metal is a lifestyle and about going farther. It has a little danger and risk to it.

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