Behind The Scene: Michael “Gunz” Gunzelman of The Gunz Show
Chances are that if you’re into any type of music within the broad “rock” genre, Michael “Gunz” Gunzelman has interviewed your favorite band. As host of idobi radio’s The Gunz Show, he has conducted hundreds of interviews and brings the latest and greatest of the scene’s music to over 120,000 listeners twice each week. Catch The Gunz Show streaming on idobi.com every Wednesday and Sunday at 9pm EST and keep on reading to take a look Behind the Scene.
Going back to the start, Gunz said his relationship with music began in the most cliché way and one many can relate to: “music saved my life.” From a very young age music meant the world to him, and it still does. His connections with music started at age six when he took up guitar. Flash-forward to middle school and music really began to take its hold. “Sure I was popular, but I started to go to shows all the time. It even got to the point where I would even be missing parties because of it.” As a bold and outgoing teenager Gunz would talk to anyone he could at concerts. “People at shows became my family” and a way to get away from the BS and fakeness of middle school and high school relationships.
The bridge into the music industry came through Gunz’s father who was a high school teacher of Heath Scaraceno, guitarist of the band Midtown. After his father connected the two, Scarceno began teaching Gunz guitar, leading to a friendship with the band. Midtown’s signing to Drive Thru Records opened his eyes to the idea of music as an industry. Once he realized this was something he wanted to be a part of, Gunz began soaking up all the knowledge of the industry, taking up promoters, bands, and anyone else he could at concerts. Soon New York City called his name and that, along with the start of college, allowed for even more access to shows.
It has been his larger than life personality that has led to Gunz’s rise to fame. “It all comes down to one thing. I’m real.” Gunz says that he’s always been “a weird dude and someone who overthinks things that matter.” His combination of both an outgoing and calculating personality leads him to learn as much as he can. This is invaluable in broadcasting, with his personal presentation as well as the conversations and interviews he conducts. Still, Gunz says, “idobi really took a chance on me.” When he expressed interested in doing a show, with no prior experience, they agreed to give him a one-shot, one hour Sunday slot. He was essentially told, “if it blows, you won’t get to do it again; if it’s okay, you’ll get to do some more.” Looking back, Gunz is sure that his show started out rough. But his passion clearly shone through and has allowed him to connect with people. Since his first show his audience has grown from 7,000 to over 120,000 today.
On his show, Gunz has conducted interviews with an incredibly wide range of acts, from being the first person to speak to a brand new band all the way up to big name celebrities, such as a conversation with Mike Tyson earlier this year. When asked how he handles going from one extreme to the other he said, “I don’t even get nervous anymore, I just want it to go well.” At this point Gunz knows that some of the major interviews won’t go as planned, while some of the less experienced interviewees speak openly and skillfully and vice versa. “It all comes down to preparation, having the right kind of energy, and being interested.” Many of the interviews are handpicked by him personally, but even when they’re not he will always research the person or band before speaking with them. This allows him to “skip the bullshit questions” that they have been asked and fans have heard a hundred times before in order to show off his personality and unique interviewing style.
The way Gunz sees it, this is one of the major advantages he has over terrestrial radio. He is allowed the creative freedom to play whatever he wants and talk to whoever he wants, which is something not afforded to FM DJs. “How can you sell people on it if you don’t like it?” he asked, especially when it comes down to limited talk time sprinkled in between songs and advertisements. “The message gets tainted.” Additionally, Gunz has the ability to switch things up on the fly. Going into a show he’ll plan to play some of the songs that are popular at the moment or the new track of the week, but a lot of it really comes together on the go. Depending on his mood and how his day is going, he might play a heavier or lighter track. Or maybe a certain song will remind him that he hasn’t heard another band in a while so he’ll play something of theirs next. Gunz isn’t afraid to say why he’s playing that song, to tell the story behind his decision, and then invite the audience to call in. To him the important thing to remember is that it’s a show and that listeners are tuning in for entertainment. The goal is to always make it a fun time and bring something interesting to the table, while also keeping it real. All of this comes together to create something different. “It’s a show, it’s a product, it’s just what the Gunz Show is.”
The Gunz Show has a proven track record for bringing attention to up and coming bands, getting people in on the ground level before they rise to fame. Gunz doesn’t take this challenge lightly, sifting through a continuous flow of submissions to make sure he gives his listeners the best of the best. He said that it’s exciting and rewarding to give bands coverage “when they’re nobodies and then watching them become somebody.” Classic examples include Cobra Starship and All Time Low, while Gunz is now looking at The Front Bottoms and State Champs to have huge years in 2016. As the person to give PVRIS one of their first ever interviews, he’s excited to watch them come into their own and believes that their fast-approaching tour with Fall Out Boy will catapult them to new levels.
After nearly nine years, The Gunz Show is still looking for ways to improve. As a correspondent at Fox News, Gunz does a lot of work on TV, too, and loves being on camera. He’s interested in bringing that over to The Gunz Show by incorporating in more of a visual experience by experimenting with live video streams, especially for in-studio interviews. Right now everyone knows the name, but he wants to branch out to start having his face recognized more as well. In the end it all comes down to the “constant struggle to find the next big band. If I’m going to put my name on it, it has to be good.”
Listen to The Gunz Show on idbio Radio, Wednesdays & Sundays at 9pm EST