Mike Gunzelman, more commonly known to the world as ‘Gunz’, is a busy man. As if being host of the #1 alternative music radio show “The Gunz Show” on idobi Radio wasn’t enough, Gunz finds time to fill in on Fox Business News, Don Imus in the Morning and more.
With a passion for music and news, this native New Yorker puts the ‘personal’ in on-air personality. HYPEFRESH’s (@MEGBERB) had the opportunity to chat with Gunz about his start in the industry, interviewing friends and how he kept Fall Out Boy’s comeback album a secret.
Who is Gunz?
Gunz: My name’s Gunz, it’s part of my last name, it ends with a z. I’m the host of The Gunz Show, which is on idobi Radio. It’s one of the largest Internet music radio shows, all across the globe. I believe it’s the largest independent streaming station in the world. It’s cool because it’s like Pandora, anyone can listen to it. I’m the host on Weds/Sun at 9 p.m. and it’s one of the funner shows. We have a couple of different co-hosts. We did some shows with Simple Plan and Mike Herrera from MXPX. We’re working on a very big band from Australia who may or may not have debuted a number one album, we’re working on getting them a show (you can put two and two together on who that is).
HF: When did you start following the music industry?
Gunz: I love music. Ever since I was young, I would go to shows. I befriended bands when they were starting up, and those bands became rather big. So you’re talking about New Found Glory or Yellowcard or Midtown or Cobra Starship or Starting Line and like and all those types of bands. As they became bigger, they kind of brought me along. I always wanted to be on tv, I always wanted to be in broadcast. So I thought, how can I help my friends that are in bands and show other people about this kind of music? At one point, I emailed idobi and said ‘Hey my name is Gunz’ and I’m in the industry and I love your show just wanted to see what opportunities there were here. They said let’s take a shot with you.
Because you have camaraderie with many of the bands that you interview, how does that help/affect your interview process?
Gunz: Yeah, I just kept going to shows and from a journalism standpoint - try to find out as many different entities about it (the music industry) as you can. Get to know how it works. So, you want to befriend the manager at the local level, find out the booking guy, promoters, and just go to shows and become friends with these people. Don’t burn any bridges.
My interview style is more conversational than your typical interview and that just comes down to my personality and charisma and all of that. But on the flip side, if there’s one thing that I’ve been able to do is build up a loyal and true following. So when people listen to my show I’m not going to bullshit them. If I listen to a band and they suck, I will tell the band that (laughs). Some of them like hearing that and some don’t. In the end, I think some people like hearing that because they like being told the truth. I have a unique way of speaking with artists and in the end, it rules because it’s all about music, which does not suck.
Talk about your job on Fox.
Gunz: I always like the news. I was always reading. I was a good student. It was crazy because in high school I was a varsity athlete (soccer and lacrosse) and I went to shows all the time. So right there, that doesn’t always work out. But, I interned at RCA and Geffen and Fuse which led to an on-air role at Fuse for Daily Download and I did a bunch of stuff there. But, the writing was on the wall that they were closing and right down the street at Madison Square Garden, ABC was right here. I came over here and started filling in on weekends. It was not an easy path, I definitely worked my way up here. I would fill in for people and give them the ‘‘young perspective.’ This led to me filling in as a host for a nationally syndicated show on Fox news (Don Imus). I’ve been on Fox Business Channel and I’ve been on CNN. I’ve just built up this ‘Gunz persona.’ It’s chaotic but it’s awesome. Everyday is different.
How would you describe your ‘Gunz persona?’ Is that different from the normal, everyday you?
Gunz: First of all, that’s a great question. But, it’s been an identity struggle. I like to think when I’m on ABC/Fox I’m fun but I can also talk to John McCain, you know? And I’m not going to say, Ballin’! to John McCain. But I also keep my youthful/charisma/energy and it works. Some people hate it, but the majority of people seem to like it. But, yeah I even bring that Gunz persona to a real, legit job, when I’m on tv or radio. But as far as the Gunz that people know from the Gunz show, that’s pretty much who I am. I’m a little wild on the air and we have fun doing bits and stuff. If my parents heard the show, they would probably hate me for some of the things I say. But, I’m the one that goes to shows. But that’s just me. I really pride myself on being real. As much as I can be.
You mentioned catchphrases and speaking, how did ‘Ballin?’ start?
Gunz: You know what, I don’t even know anymore. I’ve been saying it for so long. It just started happening and I use it interchangibily because it can really mean a lot of different things. It’s really caught on. It’s on the back of all of my t-shirts, on the Sons Out, Gunz Out tank tops, but you can use it in so many different ways. I’ll be like, dude.. ‘That’s a Ballin’ jacket’ or I’ll be like “Ballin?” It’s almost become synonymous with who I am.
Do you think it’s good to be friends with bands in the industry or where do you draw that line?
Gunz: It’s a hard thing because, I’m not shy but I’m calculating. One of my problems is I over think things internally. So, I look at a situation from as many sides as I can. It’s a good and bad thing. I have a very good judgement of character though, and I can read people very well. Sometimes you just can’t over analyze things and have to roll with the punches. It’s about balancing between the two. There’s definitely a line between personal friendships with artists and the business side. In the end, I’m a host, a “journalist” or more so a personality.
So then one thing about bands, there’s a lot of ‘off the record’ stuff. So, it’s just about how to maneuver it so I can get some exclusive out of it without blowing the whole entire story because then they’ll never trust you again.
For example, when Fall Out Boy came out of their hiatus (three years ago) there was like 50 people that knew that knew FOB recorded an album. It was so under wraps. We knew it happened. I knew there were three songs out there already, but I never went on the air and blasted it. Somebody did go on air and they ended up blacklisted from any interview with FOB and Crush Management, ever. It was supposed to be done in a specific way and the people that were in the know, blew it. There’s a fine line between getting the story out there and not ruining current friendships.
How do you balance it?
Gunz: I still think as a society, we’re still trying to figure out what’s acceptable and what’s not. Look at Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks. It’s all about journalistic integrity. That’s why we have editors to help us make certain decisions about certain pieces.
For example, ‘A Day to Remember’ was suing Victory Records and a little birdie told me about it. I got a nice e-mail from someone. It said, ‘Hey, you might want to check this out.’ It didn’t give me the exact story, but it pointed me in the right direction. I ended up calling a couple of courthouses in California and found out they were actually suing their former record label because they wouldn’t release them from their album. And ADTR was stuck, they couldn’t do anything. ADTR finally won and they released their last album on their own and it was huge. I was the first to break that because of one short e-mail.
Quick questions with Gunz.
Five Bands People need to watch out for in 2016:
- State Champs
- Front Bottoms
- Marianas Trench
Three artists/bands you hope to interview in 2016:
- Mark Hoppus
- Brand New
- Matty from 1975
One collab you want to see in 2016?
- Harry Styles x Dave Grohl
Best lunch spot in NYC?
- Shake Shack
- The new one- the guy who is rolling his eyes to the upper left.
What are three words that you friends would use to describe you?
- Gunz. Ballin. Trustworthy and honest.