BRINGING US TOGETHER: A CONVERSATION WITH ‘METAL AND MONSTERS’ HOST MATT “COUNT D” MONTGOMERY

“Honestly man, I miss the days when we could get together on things.”

For Matt “Count D” Montgomery, long known as the bassist for Rob Zombie, the vision for METAL AND MONSTERS–Gibson TV’s brand new show dedicated to the worlds of heavy metal and monster culture–really is just that simple.

Two years ago there came a tapping at his Lyft door as he was leaving John Carpenter’s Halloween Nights show at the Hollywood Palladium when Gibson TV Content and Director Todd Harapiak, rapped Montgomery’s shoulder. Harapiak offered his card and an invitation to give him a call.

For the next year, Harapiak and Montgomery traded records and got to know one another. Then just before the pandemic began, Montgomery got a call that changed everything.

“I’m thinking about a show where we combine our love for heavy metal and maybe your love for monster culture and stuff it into one thing. What do you think?” Harapiak said.

And just like that, METAL AND MONSTERS was born. Nearly every day for the next two-and-a-half years Montgomery and Harapiak were on the phone planning the show. Before long they were location scouting, then a crew was assembled, and finally they started reaching out to horror and metal legends for a 60-minute program which Montgomery would host.

“Before I knew it, last October, there we were in the Los Angeles Theatre with a coffee table we built from scratch, with a set that we designed for the show, and [Robert Englund and Don Dokken] sitting in front of me,” Montgomery said. “It’s one of the coolest bands I’ve ever been in.

It’s the most honest thing I can be doing with my time. I’ve celebrated the elements of this show literally my whole life.” Montgomery continued, “I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be a host of this campfire, so to speak. It’s the easiest thing I’ve ever done because I feel like I’ve been studying for it my whole life.”

Which brings us back to Montgomery’s vision.

“When I grew up, Thursday nights on NBC were a thing, Saturday morning cartoons were a thing,” Montgomery said. “We all used to watch 60 Minutes on Sunday night. We all used to watch the Carson show, and we’d all go to work or school the next day talking about who was on Johnny Carson the night before. It brought us together.

As different as we could be politically or religiously or whatever it was, we could come together on things. We could meet. Even if it was for five minutes by the water cooler, we could meet up on stuff.”

Whether it was “did you see the game?” or “did you see Orson Welles on the Carson show last night?” it was the mutual geek sessions that resulted from a shared experience that Montgomery wanted to recreate, or to put it in horror terms, re-imagine.

(Photo credit: Todd Harapiak)

“I miss the unity that used to come from something as dumb as television,” Montgomery said. “I don’t think it’s dumb, but some people think it’s dumb. That was my intention with the show.”

Intent is one thing, but an endeavor such as METAL AND MONSTERS required a level of expertise from its host that would be difficult to meet.

“It just so happens that I can speak to all of that stuff and I can be a little bit of a ringleader by being a curator with all of the elements that are in this peanut butter & jelly sandwich,” Montgomery said. “The intent was really to bring people together for an hour. Especially now, man. We’re such a mess as a culture. To be able to sit down for an hour and just talk about Dokken or Freddy Krueger. If we could all shut up and put our differences aside for five minutes or an hour, and just sit around a campfire warming our hands, it’s a good day at work.”

The pilot episode reunites Robert Englund and Don Dokken, who Harapiak describes as “two pillars of the metal and monster genre” to celebrate the 35th anniversary of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987).

Dokken penned “Dream Warriors” exclusively for the film that featured Englund’s third turn as one of horror’s most iconic characters.

(Photo by: Mark Weiss)

And as you might suspect, METAL AND MONSTERS’ tagline says it all: “If you like blast beats and things that go bump in the night, this is the show for you.”

When Harapiak’s idea met Montgomery’s vision, it presented the opportunity to test Count D’s theory.

“I think if you’re a fan of horror or you’re a fan of metal, your mind is open to the possibility of suspending disbelief to storytelling, you’re open to fantastic ideas,” Montgomery said. “If you buy, for two seconds, that there’s a movie about a dream demon in a red-and-green sweater that haunts your dreams, and if he kills you in your dreams, you’re really dead–if you buy a ticket to that movie and make it all the way through, and you walk out of it and enjoyed where you’ve been for an hour-and-a-half–you’re more likely to be accepting of imagination, of fiction, of science fiction, of entertainment in general.

On the second Metallica record, there’s an instrumental song called “Call of Cthulhu” based on H.P. Lovecraft. And then Master of Puppets, you’ve got “The Thing That Should Not Be,” a song about a fuckin’ sea monster. Lady Gaga’s not writing songs about sea monsters,” Montgomery said. “There’s an element of fantasy there, in heavy metal and in horror, that we, as fans of both of those genres, we want to be entertained by great stories and by interesting characters and by history.

I mean, For Whom the Bell Tolls, another Metallica example–that’s classic literature (by Ernest Hemingway). That was a famous book before it was a Metallica song. Horror fans and heavy metal fans are some of the most well-read, intelligent people in the world because they don’t limit themselves to every day realism. I mean, we all have to live in the real world, but let’s be honest, the real world is pretty fucking horrifying. But, there’s something fun about studying history and there’s something to be learned from that. There’s something fun going to a mythical place like Oz, or Freddy’s lair; there’s something fun about going somewhere you can’t get in your car and go to. And if you’re willing to accept that, then you’re one of us and you’re along for the ride I think, with heavy metal and horror.”

(Photo credit: Ross Halfin)

And because, as Montgomery pointed out, “somebody had the forethought to go ‘you know who’s watching these movies? Teenagers. And you know what teenagers love? Rock and roll. So, we need some rock music in this movie.’ The result, as they say–in this case Dokken on Elm Street–is history.

“You know what was a happy accident? Robert was early,” Montgomery said. “I consider him the Vincent Price of my generation. At a young age, my mom got me hip to Vincent Price. I started with the [Roger] Corman [Edgar Allan] Poe pictures that AIP (American International Pictures) made in the ’60s and became obsessed with those movies. I knew who Robert Englund once at a young age, too, because he was on V, and those were Friday nights for me in elementary school.

To be sitting there with him after loving him for so long, and he just talked. He told me stories like he was my uncle. It was crazy, he was completely at ease with himself and with me, and I had my stack of Fangoria magazines and Freddy poster magazines there,” Montgomery said. “And [Englund would] be like ‘you know, in NIGHTMARE 5’, and he told me things I probably shouldn’t know,, but he just felt so candid.

So, by the time we got to the stage, we were loose and had already touched on things. He brought up different things in the interview when we were filming, and that was all very natural. I had questions to kind of kick the ball back onto the field, but I didn’t have to. One of the things going into the show was going to be that the secret sauce was going to be whoever we paired together. If we put any thought into who to pair together, we knew that whatever happened between those two people, would be completely organic and / or magical in its own way, and that’s exactly what it was. I didn’t know that they both [Englund and Dokken] had spent so much time in New Mexico, so they had this whole conversation with themselves about New Mexico while we were there, and I was like ‘Oh my God, this is amazing.’ It’s those happy accidents that come from two people and their own organic chemistry being near each other, and all I have to do is open the can and get out of the way.”

Super7 Iron Maiden action figures as seen in the “Terror Trek” segment of METAL AND MONSTERS.

Montgomery geeked out listening to Englund and Dokken, and anticipates a similar reaction from the legions who also possess stacks of Fangorias and vinyls of their own.

“There’s so many surprises that come by just putting two people in the room and the relationship that they may or may not have together, it makes for good TV,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes I’m as surprised as the viewer will be. I’m like ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that!’ and everybody else is gonna go ‘huh. I didn’t know that.’ I guess that’s the reward of a good interview, is that you walk away from it having learned something you didn’t know.

Robert told the story about ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) and Bill Haley {& His Comets) and “Rock Around the Clock” when that came out, and how teenagers had never heard rock and roll played that loud, and how it worked them up and got the adrenaline pumping in the theatre. It was the same reaction I had as a kid seeing DREAM WARRIORS. Hearing Dokken loud on a Friday night. Man, it was exciting! I love those feelings. And I love it when people get excited about being in the moment. I think there’s more of that to come with the show. I think people will see that there’s an excitement in the air when the combination of these elements get together. It’s kind of like watching the jelly melt into the peanut butter and the peanut butter melt into the jelly — it becomes its own flavor.”

And it will be 60 minutes of METAL AND MONSTERS that calls everybody to the dinner table, ready for their ration of peanut butter & jelly. Ready for the explosion of that unique flavor. Ready to remember. Ready to rock. Together.

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