METAL MENTAL MELTDOWN
World's First METAL Trivia Board Game!
Interview with JP by EvilG
Let's start out at the beginning. Did you grow up playing a lot
of board games like Trivia Pursuit?
Yes! I have always enjoyed trivia and trivia games. It's a great way
to look sound intelligent at parties without actually having to be smart
or know anything! Ha! Ha! Seriously, Trivia is factual information…knowledge.
Knowledge is power. The more you know the more tools you have at your
disposal to be able to teach and learn. Sure some trivia is useless but
I'd still rather know it.
Have you always been a metal trivia buff, or was it the game
which lead to you being so into trivia?
I have always been a metal-trivia buff. Some guy called me a
"metal-trekkie" once. At first I was mildly insulted but then
I thought about it, he was right! What's the difference between knowing
who directed an episode of "The Trek" (any series, any season)
and who produced the second W.A.S.P. CD? Not much. (By the way it was
Spencer Proffer for all you metal-trekkies out there!) Part of it comes
from being a life-long fan and taking the time to look at each record,
tape, CD and educate myself about who played what instrument, who
produced it and where and so on.
When did you first think about designing a metal board game?
February 23rd 1998. It was weird….are you familiar with the King
Diamond CD, "The Eye"? Of course you are! In an interview at
the time (1990) King revealed that he has been struck, late one night
with the inspiration for the concept of The Eye. Those ideas are found
in the lyrics fro the opening track "The Eye of The Witch" and
the closing track "The Curse" which frame or bookend the main
body of the story. "Blame it on the Wine!"
My experience was kinda similar… I had relocated to Calgary and got
a job and got married….pretty traditional. I couldn't sleep, restless
…I was up late thinking, "I've got my degree, a new city, a
crummy 9 to 5 job with a tie…What the Hell do I do with my life?"
I got up, it was a freezing night and at 2:00 am I just started to
listen to music and write. I wrote and I wrote, masses of notes on
sheets of foolscap (which I still have tucked away) about starting a
heavy metal company that would do books and games. It's funny, I was
listening to the Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack while writing
my notes and those first three songs, Shout it Out by Slaughter, Battle
Stations by Winger (still my favorite Winger track of all time) and God
Gave Rock and Roll To You II by Kiss, really inspired me. There's a few
lines in the Kiss tune that say, "Ya gotta sweat or you won't get
far, It's never too late to work 9-5…You can take a stand or
compromise, you can work real hard or just fantasize…" and that
Here I was fantasizing about all these things…being rich, famous,
not having to work, whatever…and all the while sitting on my ass in
some dead-end job in the mail-room. I decided that I was going to do
this, be successful, and live my life the way I wanted too. Provide for
my family, have fun, go where I want and do want I want. Sure it
wouldn't be easy but nothing worth doing ever is! If I ever meet Gene
and Paul I'm gonna thank them!
I firmly believe that metal lyrics are some of the most powerful and
inspirational around. Many, many songs are about fighting for what you
believe in, working hard, taking care of yourself and those you love.
Blackie Lawless said, "I Wanna Be Somebody" and now I'm
getting there one step at a time! I draw a lot of inspiration from the
power of metal. Whenever I'm down, broke, something not going right with
the game or company, metal is the eternal constant.
Anyway, as for the game, the seed, the embryo had been geminating for
many years before that. It started when I graduated University in 1995.
I had the idea that I wanted to be a part of the metal community, more
than just a fan who bought CD's and went to concerts. I thought of
starting clubs, writing fanzines, writing books doing a web-site but it
had all been done before. I wanted something new but until that night I
was sitting on my ass thinking about it, fantasizing and not taking the
step I needed to be successful.
So anyway, enough mushy stuff, I stayed up all night that cold
February night and developed the plan, designed what would be my
company, my chance to develop ideas and make a living doing what I
wanted. I designed the outline of the game and started the wheels in
motion of what was to be my company JPW Metal Enterprises Inc. The next
morning, I told my wife, Julia about my thoughts, and she said, "Go
for it! I'm tired of hearing you babble about all this metal stuff and
never doing anything about it. You have all that useless metal trivia
rattling around in your head, use it for something. I'll support you!
The first thing we did was form a company (JPW Metal Enterprises Inc)
we got fully incorporated, got our business affairs in order, got board
members, investors, a lawyer and got all of our legal protection in
place. We wanted legal proof we were a legitimate company, pay taxes
(yuk) and start to develop products the first being our flagship, the
game. This created a stable business base to invent new things and deal
with the ever-important issue of financial responsibility, for the
investors, government and myself as an employee.
I'm assuming that the name of the game comes from the Judas
Priest song "Metal Meltdown"?? How long did it take to come up
with a name and was this the first one you came up with?
The title, believe it or not, was not directly influenced by Priest!
I wanted a catchy name, one that that had to have a few components. One
it had to be an unmistakable, classic name. Hence the term, METAL! Next,
I wanted to emphasize, brains, intelligence, and so on, hence the word
MENTAL. Lastly, I wanted to add a dimension of difficulty, and the
challenge of trivia so MELTDOWN became the final component. MMM, is also
an alliteration and tongue twister so it was the first name and the one
that I was most pleased with.
Did you do any market research to gauge how much interest there
might be for such a game, or was it just something you wanted to do and
went for it?
I didn't do a lot of hard research really. I knew there are millions
of metal fans world-wide and if only 1% of them thought it was cool and
worth supporting, it would be enough to start. I really just went for
it. I figured if most of our heroes can sell a 100,000 CD's a year a I
could sell a few thousand games.
How many "betas" or "prototypes" of the
game did it take before you were happy with the game?
Not many, in fact I didn't really do a prototype in the traditional
sense at all. When manufacturing games usually you spend $4000.00 or so
to do a few prototypes which get given to big department stores or get
shown at game conventions, but I knew that wasn't our audience. Plus I didn't
have $4000.00! I wanted a true kick-ass metal game for the underground,
for the fans, made by a fan. I knew Wal-Mart or whoever would not touch
it with a ten foot pole. So I skipped the prototype, asked a few friends
and family what they thought and we went for it. The creation was pretty
fun, total creative control.
you design the look of the game on your own or did you have some
"metalhead consultants" give their input into the design?
I did everything on my own. I wanted a traditional look and feel to
the game. My theme when designing it was "skulls, chains and
brains!" We didn't want to make the cover too gory in case it ever
did get into a store somewhere. So we ended up with the pentagram and
skulls! Black and red.
And how about the questions? Did you do them all yourself?
About 70% were directly from my head, I just sat and wrote them down
and I had to research the other 30%. My friend Evil Dave (no relation to
EvilG) wrote one or two. Evil Dave was very helpful in proof-reading and
making me to drop a couple dozen evil, nasty, dirty questions that were
so obscure no one would ever know or care! He made me take out most of
the questions about demos of bands too.
Some of the bands in the questions are ones I've never even
heard of. Did you do a lot of research into all the bands or are you so
much of a freak (hehe) that you knew all this stuff anyway????
Yeah, I'm a metal freak! I have a big collection and material from
all the bands in the game, so it was easy to go through alphabetically
and say, "Hey, I'll do a question about band A, B, C and so on.
What guidelines did you follow to keep the questions
entertaining as opposed to dry and boring?
Designing the questions was a fine line. On one hand if they were too
hard and boring, no one would like the game. On the other hand, if it
was too easy, people would play it once, know all the answers, put it on
the shelf and feel kinda ripped off! I tried to make silly jokes and
design challenging questions on purpose. We wanted it to be harder than
easier, to educate and entertain. The best questions are about tattoos',
cover art, weird and fun facts, rather than just every question be
"Who is the singer (bassist/drummer/guitarist) of band
"X"? There are some dumb jokes in there that maybe a European
audience may not get and there are a lot of Canadian questions in there.
I knew deep down that maybe it was too hard in parts and some of the
jokes and Canadian stuff would not work well, but I said, "Hell,
It's MY game, I'm gonna do whatever the hell I want!"
No compromise on the first one. Next edition we might make it a
little more…accessible! Drop some of the killer questions, less
Canadian content, fewer obscure bands that broke up 15 years ago after 1
Did you focus the questions at any particular type of metal, or
was it all fair game?
I wanted to represent all genres and all eras of metal. So I did!
Some metalheads might complain when they see the odd Bon Jovi
or Poison question...what would you say to them? (For the record: I
didn't mind too much hehehehe!)
I would say, "You're right! Bon Jovi and Poison (and many
others) are not metal!" But because I enjoy them and they were so
popular with rock/metal fans of the era I put them in. I mean, if you
want to get technical MANOWAR, are the only true metal band. Everyone
else are just pretenders to the throne. But I didn't want to do just a
MANOWAR game…yet… (Joey, Eric, call me! We'll talk about the MMM
MANOWAR Edition! Ha! Ha!)
Seriously, we have had many comments about the variety of bands in
the game. The Poison fans are going, "Who the Hell are Darkthrone?"
and the Bestial Warlust fans are going, "Who the hell is Pretty Boy
Floyd?" ha! ha! Every genre had a shot first time around.
Aren't you currently working on new sets of questions that
people can buy such as a "death/black pack" and a "power
metal pack"? If so what's the current status and how do people buy
them and for how much?
Yes, and No! We were really thinking of extension packs but that
might limit our audience to the point where it can't be financially
possible. Let's say 10% of our total audience would go for a hard-core
glam or black metal pack so it might be hard to even afford to produce
it. As for status, I have written over 2000 new questions, there is
never any shortage of material! We are really thinking of a book version
with packs being on the back-burner for now. A trivia book would be
compatible with the game with all new questions or stand-alone with
chapters dedicated to genres. That way people can play their favorite
chapter/questions. Many people said, "I would buy your game, but I
have no one to play it with" A book can be read alone and introduce
a new set of fans to the joy of metal trivia. Those who bought the game
might want to buy the book. Those who buy the book, may like it enough
to want to get the original game.
Regarding the actual physical pieces of the game...how did you
go about getting this put together in terms of the artwork and the
printing, the board, dice, game pieces, etc? Did you design that
I had a lot of professional help. Northern Games Manufacturing in
Edmonton, Alberta are one of Canada's leading game designers and
manufacturing. I took my concept in to the office gave them a cheque and
said "Do it!" There was a great collaboration process in the
summer of 1999 including suggestions from the manufacturer about
legalities and technicalities of production that I had not thought of.
Once you had the ideas and design in place how long did it take
to get all this professionally done to the point where you had a shrink
wrapped package ready to ship?
Everything takes longer than it takes! About five months. The actual
printing, assembly, shrink-wrapping etc only took about 6 weeks. We had
our share of problems too! At one point we had a photographer
professionally shoot the game. When that was done the films were sent to
the manufacturer and during delivery the courier had crushed and creased
the photographic films!! We had to re-shoot the whole thing. It delayed
the whole process 3 weeks and cost me hundreds of dollars! You can't
plan or predict these things happening and you have to laugh a little.
Until I did a complex manufacturing process, I would always wondered why
some bands would delay CD's because of problems in the plant or whatever…now
I know first hand…shit happens! It happens to us all and you don't
want to have a sub-standard product so you re-do it and it that takes
time and money!
Was it costly to have packaged, because to be honest I was very
impressed with how professional this looks!! Some people might expect
this to be a "home made" job, but no way...very pro!!
Thanks! When we started I knew it had to look and feel kick-ass! So
we went with Northern Games who have a great reputation world-wide. We
did have to compromise in some areas…I wanted thicker, glossier card
stock and maybe little metal-dudes as playing pieces but everything
costs extra and adds up. Some have said it is pretty expensive as it is!
We did a few little extras that very few people would notice, I'll give
you an example. We added an extra high-gloss coat on the board playing
surface. It keeps in shinier, is more resistant to fingerprints, stains
and spills, if someone knocks their drink on it, it can be wiped away
quickly without warping the board or diluting the colours. It cost I
think 25 cents extra per game, which doesn't seem like a lot but it adds
up when you are doing a lot of games.
This must of obviously involved some sort of investment...was
this done from your own pocket or did you manage to take advantage of
some government funding program for entrepreneurs or something else?
I went to every bank and government agency and they all said the same
thing, "Great idea kid, It'll never work. No thanks!" to
which, I said, "Screw you, I'll do it without your dirty blood
money, you N'Sync listening scumbag suit!" (or something like that)
Seriously, I was pissed off, we had a full-on business plan, investors,
financial statements even collateral for a small business loan, and they
still said, No! Bastards. I'm still bitter! ha! ha! They just didn't get
it so we decided to do it ourselves. I got a lot of help from the Bank
of Mom and a few dark-angel investors!
If you don't mind me asking, how many copies of MMM did you get
printed up to sell?
Again, if you don't mind me asking...how many of those copies
have you sold to date?
Well over half! It doesn't sound like much but this is what the
manufacturer told me. "Don't expect to make it." They get 100
game ideas a year at their plant. Of those 100 ideas, maybe ten go into
the prototype/ pre-production phase. Of those ten games maybe five
actually ever get manufactured and into stores. Of those five games, one
or two will be "successful". The North American board game
industry defines a successful game as, "One that sells its initial
print run and gets printed again. So here we are, already in an elite
class of games that made it! Barely, but we are doing it. The industry
is littered, I kid you not, with inventors who have 5000 copies of their
game sitting in a warehouse or basement, who never made it. The failure
rate is very high, people don't plan, over-estimate their audience
appeal…It is extremely competitive market place. If I had known how
much time and money it would take, I probably would not have done it in
the first place, BUT…my love for pure metal burns deep within and like
I was mentioning earlier, you can fantasize or go for it!
What places, or stores, have you been able to get to carry the
game? Have they been where you've been doing most of your business or
are most sales made directly by you through your website??
Our game is spread across the globe. We have sold games in over 30
countries. Our original focus was the cool, independent metal stores
around the world. It worked well but it was taking way too long and too
much money to send, four to Chicago, three to Australia etc… So we
decided to aim a little higher. We sacrificed some profit (much to
unhappiness of the investors ha! ha!) and sell it at a lower price to
stores, record labels and distribution chains. Right now Nuclear Blast,
Century Media, EMP in Germany, PHD in Canada, including the HMV and
A&B chains all carry it. We just signed a deal with Metal Fortress
in Stockholm, Sweden who will help sell and distribute the game in
Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. We are talking to people
in Greece, Italy and Portugal where there are tons of metal fans, even
Japan. Unfortunately, despite English being the language of metal, many
fans in Japan, Greece, Brazil really do need it translated which is
expense and time-consuming. We are in the preliminary stages of getting
translation done in German and Swedish.
As for the net, It is a lot of fun to get a sale here and there on
the net. As you know many metal-heads are well connected on the net so
our net sales have been quite good, a couple of hundred I think, just
people slapping down a credit card, but I know many are not still
comfortable with that yet.
What other means do you use to let people know about the game?
Word of mouth has been our most powerful tool. As I knew the metal
community although global, is small and well connected. We have not
spent ANY money on advertising. None. People come to us. Now of course
we have given away many, many free copies to show people what it is all
about but we haven't paid for ad space in a magazine or something. Maybe
if we did have an advertising budget we would sell a lot more!
Reading reviews and doing interviews is great fun for me, it takes
away from the dullness of the financial work. I have done dozens of
interviews for magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, internet and fanzines
world-wide. We have been featured in almost every major, glossy metal
magazine in the world, including Guitar World and Metal Hammer Israel!
How has the press or players been responding to the game?
Very, very positive response. I think people are drawn to the idea
because it is unique, it's fun, it's the first. Some of the commercial
rock radio guys who interview me haven't got a clue, but they try hard
and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to a wider audience. One guy
who interviewed me (Chicago I think.) had never heard of Saxon! Many of
them say, "It is too hard!" , to which I usually answer,
"You don't know enough about metal!" ha! ha! Seriously, it is
a very challenging game and many people have pointed that out. So we
take those comments into consideration for next time.
Have any known metal musicians played a game and commented on
Yeah lots! I'm not going to start name-dropping…oh what the hell…I'm
gonna name drop! It's fun! Where to begin…. I know that many have
played it although I have not talked to these heavy-metal heroes
directly, Dio, Doro, Hansi Kursch, John Schaffer and I sent a copy to
Chuck Schuldiner as a "get well present". I have been (very
briefly) in touch with Dee Snider, guys from Hades, Lizzy Borden,
Entombed and a few others. I have had the pleasure of giving copies to a
few of the bands that come through our town (which is very few and far
between tragically) but I have given copies to Brian Vollmer of Helix,
Warrell Dane, the guys from Six Feet Under and Danzing and many killer
bands from Quebec like Quo Vadis! It gives them something to do on the
tour bus when they are driving for hours in the middle of nowhere in
Canada! My best story is when Lars from Metallica phoned me late one
night last winter. He said he was playing the game and it was too hard!
Ha! ha! We had a great chat and he promised to look me up when they hit
Calgary next time. Despite what people may think about the musical
direction of Metallica it was a lot of fun to have him call me. Talking
to people you admire and share an interest and passion for metal, and
then to give them a game and say, "Thanks for the music" is a
I believe the game was first available in 1999. Since it's been
out for a while now, have you gotten to the point where there are things
you'd like to update, add or change? If so what, and does this mean
there might one day be a version two??
You bet. The book is my main focus but if things go well we may redo
a whole new edition, bigger print run to keep costs down, all new
questions, and killer new art. We have had some preliminary interest
from a few "name" metal artists to do the front cover. They
usually cost though!
We tried to write questions that were not time-sensitive. By that I
mean, we hope that if people join or leave band the answer to the
question is still correct. I found an example a few weeks ago. There is
a question about Tesla and which record label there were on. Well, they
reformed and have a new record label, so the question, although correct
when I wrote it, is now out-of-date and ultimately incorrect! Damn!
Have you thought of expanding JPW Metal Enterprises Inc. to be
more then a company for distributing MMM? If so then is anything in the
works you'd like to let people know about!?!?
Yes! Definitely the vision was the company first. Right now we
distribute six books by a few different authors and are always seeking
more. I sell those at shows and sell them on the net. I have several
book-ideas on my own and in conjunction with other authors. I have just
been invited to collaborate on a non-fiction book about metal. It's not
fully official so details to follow! We want to be a metal company that
specializes in metal products but not CD's and shirts because those
organziations are already out there and doing a good job. Sometimes, it
is slow going and I get bummed out. Last week I read an interview with
the founders of the Wacken festival. They said I their first year they
had only 150 people! To learn they started so small as well, what
cheered me up. They worked hard, survived and grew into the largest
metal festival in the world in ten short years. In ten years JPW Metal
Enterprises WILL be kicking ass and everyone WILL know us!
Tell us a little about the man behind the game...what is your
background with metal?
Like many dudes my age, over 30, it started with Kiss when I was
about 6 years old…Destroyer… By the time I got into Maiden and
Priest, Ozzy etc,,, I never looked back. My mom still thinks it's a
"phase"! As time passed my collection grew as did my eternal
quest for rarities and trivia, hampered only by money! I always enjoyed
listening to (and figuring out, analyzing) a guitarists individual
sound, a vocalists vocal inflections or even the "signature
sound" a producer could create. When a band that I liked broke up,
say classic example, RACER X, I would try to follow the careers of the
musicians involved, so I would go check out a Paul Gilbert solo CD, a
Scream CD, find out where Jeff Martin ended up…etc.
You now write for the most excellent (hehehe) webzine,
Metal-Rules.com. What made you decide to be a writer for Metal Rules and
have you done much writing in the past?
I haven't written before, partly because I never had a good outlet
and partly because, everyone has an opinion and mine would be no better
or worse than anyone else's. Now, with Metal-Rules.com here was a
well-respected, international forum with intelligent writers from across
the globe. MR, is more than just gushing fan-boy reviews, it is news,
editorials, concerts, intelligent metal fans with something to say. I
guess it would be the column "From Hells Heart…" that really
drew me in.
Now that I felt a few people had heard of this crazy, Canuck
metal-head with this killer hard metal trivia game , I might have
something to bring to the table. One magazine in Texas wrote a review
and the writer said, "I used to think I knew about metal trivia,
until I played this game. Joshua is the King of Metal Trivia. " It
was very flattering and made me proud. Then I won an international,
internet, metal trivia contest. I came in first place, beating out over
500 other contestants. I got 498 out of the 500 questions right! So,
now, I'm getting an ego and an attitude! Ha! ha! Or at least the
confidence to try new things. I started to think, "Yeah why not
develop more of an identity as a writer. I have always wanted to write
books and the game originally was a book to begin with. I asked myself
who would I feel comfortable working with and for? Of course Metal-rules.com
was at the top of the list and being a Canadian based site, that closed
the deal, the rest is history!
You also do a metal radio show. Can you tell us a bit about
that in terms of what you play and how long you've been doing the
show?!! Do you volunteer at the station, or do they actually PAY you to
Pay? Ha! ha! No, no, no. It is strictly volunteer, but in reality I
would pay to play metal! I am one of two metal directors and DJ's at
CJSW 90.9 FM. I co-host a show called Megawatt Mayhem. We are in our
16th + year and are one of the longest running metal radio shows in
North America. The host and founder Kevin Woron, interviewed me way back
when I was just starting the game. We became friends and he invited me
to co-host with him in October 1999, so I just passed two full years
Is the show only available in your home area or can people hear
it on the internet as well?
We are on the net at www.cjsw.com. The show is every Saturday night
10:00pm to midnight MST.
What are some of your current favourite bands that you're
listening to and spinning on the show?
We have a lot of fun with our show. We do contests give-aways,
special programs, like our Halloween show, Black Christmas Special,
Cover Tunes Night and so on. Tonight we are hosting some sort of
air-guitar, air-drum metal-karaoke contest at a local bar. Should be
fun! Personally I'm going to hang out "back-stage" with the
air-roadies and check out all the hot air-groupies.
As for tunes, like the game, we are all over the map. We play EVERY
kind of metal, even nu-metal tragically…my host and I argue about that
one all the time! ha! ha! I say "No!", He says
"Yes!" But it is his show and it does bring a younger audience
to the show and introduces them to other forms of metal.
Specifically, I have listened to or played on air in the last few
weeks, U.D.O. Exodus, Rage, Nevermore, Helloween, the new Emperor, Scum,
a newer band called Marauder (from Greece) some old Grand Prix ( feat.
Robin McAuley, pre-M.S.G.) , some obscure 80's thrash, Dr. Know,
Atrophy, Cerebral Fix, Exhorder, Doomwatch…man…the list goes on and
on… I listen to a minimum average of three CD's a day, every day.
Since it seems that so much of your daily life revolves around
metal...tell us poor people who are working the 9-5 jobs and struggling
through school what it is like to make your living from METAL!!!!!!!
It is a real pleasure doing what I want to with my time, work late,
work early, I usually dedicate a lot of my time in the office/den on the
phone or computer. The freedom is wonderful. The down side is, you
guessed it…motivation. Am I going to get out of bed and work, or sleep
in? When you are the CEO of a company that is very cool, but when you
are the only employee, you have to do all the work, answering e-mails,
phone-calls, speaking to customers, packing and sending games,
accounting, trying to find games lost in the mail, goin gto the bank and
post-office everyday, calling companies that owe us money ha! ha! the
list goes on! In the end I take a tiny salary to pay the bills and rent.
I have a little baby girl who needs stuff, so I may get a traditional
part-time job to add security for my family. Not a sign of defeat but a
re-assessment of priorities…if I was on my own, it wouldn't matter but
I want my wife and daughter to be happy.
Here's your chance to tell us any other news about MMM or JPW
Metal Enterprises Inc.!
It think we have covered it all…actually I want to mention the
fantastic work done by my man Michael Mazur of Mazur Public Relations in
New Jersey, USA (as compared to that other New Jersey in Micronesia).
His hard work promoting our company and game to media outlets world-wide
has been invaluable, we owe him big-time! He represent many cool bands
and labels and we are proud to have him on the JPW Metal Team. Check out
his web-site at www.mazurpr.com.
He represents the majestic label, Limb in the US, as well as Saxon and
Savatage so he knows his stuff!
In closing...if someone asks "Why should I buy this
game?" You would say....
Because there are MANOWAR questions in it!! Do you need another
reason, you fool!? ha! ha! Seriously, I would never call my customers
fools…if you like metal, enjoy trivia and like to get together with
friends and check out something totally new, this game is for you.
JPW Metal Enterprises
©2001 Metal Rules!!