Last night, the WWE Network premiered the greatest real-life look into rockstardom since Spinal Tap. Walk With Elias: The Documentary hit the Network to mass acclaim, taking fans through Elias’ journey from recording his new album to the man’s epic performance at this year’s Wrestlemania.

I interviewed Elias in the stands of Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, pressing him on issues like musicianship and prolificacy for the WWE Network special. Here's just a piece of our conversation:

Though he kept insisting I was from Rolling Stone, Elias was gracious with his time, giving me an extra few minutes to talk rock and metal once the cameras stopped rolling.

So Elias, how do you think we did?

Let’s see, let’s see. Well, I could have had a better interviewer, first and foremost. Aside from that, I’ve gotta say — it was cool, man. It was really cool to be interviewed and any chance I get to put my voice out there, put my soul out on the line for people, it’s a good thing.

I’ve heard you’re a big fan of Alice in Chains. How did they impact your life?

Well, it’s not just Alice in Chains. They’re a band that I absolutely like, but I love the whole grunge scene and that’s the era I grew up in. It influenced my sound and my vibe. Alice in Chains is great, I love the song “Nutshell” and I even, at one point on Monday Night Raw, covered that song as a little nod to a band I really like.

I’m into everything, man. I’m into metal, I’m into grunge, I’m into classic rock, I’m into blues. I like to touch on everything.

Who are your favorite metal bands? Anything you’ve been listening to recently?

I’ve gotta go with Metallica, man. I know that might be the obvious choice for a lot of people, but man, the sound they put out — “One,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “The Unforgiven,” “The Unforgiven II” — those songs, they just give me energy. They’ve always kind of done their own thing and it’s always been inspirational. The way they touch people’s lives is really special.

Can you tell me about the first time you picked up the guitar?

I was 15 years old and I had taken a big interest in classic rock. I was very much into Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. My dad took notice, he got me a guitar for Christmas and I’ve gotta say, it was a pretty natural fit right off the bat. I was able to kind of understand and hear and feel music pretty quickly from the first time I picked up that guitar.

You’ve also got an old folk and wayward country sort of vibe when you perform. Who are your inspirations there?

I’m a big time Johnny Cash fan. “Hello, I am Elias” — “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” He’s a big influence on me and I listen to him all the time. I get inspiration from current country / folk guys too, like Chris Stapleton. I think he’s got a great voice, a great sound to him. Like I said, I kind of pull from all avenues of music.

Can you tell me about your journey from NXT to the main roster? It felt like at NXT, people didn’t quite click with the Elias character, but when you started performing in that ring on Raw, everybody went, ‘I get this guy and I love what he’s doing.’

I think that’s it. I’ve always known I was going to be a big star, so I need a big stage and a big platform. NXT was what it was — that was the birth, that was the “drifter” right there. You know, a traveling musician, dark and brooding. Now, here I am… Elias. No longer a drifter, man; I’m on the big stage, I’m performing for millions of people. All I can say is that millions of people absolutely understand, they absolutely get it.

I heard a rumor that Braun Strowman may or may not do an excellent Layne Staley impersonation. Is that true?

[Laughs] I don’t want to talk too much about Braun Strowman, but I will tell you this; there have been times where I’ve been jamming on my guitar and Braun Strowman pops up and starts singing... and he doesn’t sound too bad.

We'd like to thank Elias for his time and WWE for inviting us to be a part of the documentary. Walk With Elias: The Documentary is now available on-demand via the WWE Network. You can also head over to iTunes to grab Elias' new album, Walk With Elias, which peaked at No. 6 on the Top 10 albums chart.

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