RSS Feed

METALLICA – Killing Time Again
Bernard Doe
June 2016

Metallica (l-r): Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett

It may be eight years since the release of Metallica’s last full-length studio album – 2008’s Death Magnetic – but the San Francisco-based combo have not exactly been idle during the intervening period since then. Whether it be collecting Grammy awards in 2009, their somewhat controversial 2011 collaborative Lulu album with the late Lou Reed, the release of the critically acclaimed 2013 movie Metallica: Through The Never, or upsetting the precious regular festival goers at Glastonbury in June 2014, the band have rarely been out of the spotlight.

On November 30th, 2012, Metallica announced the launch of the band’s own record label, Blackened Recordings, having taken ownership of all of their master recordings following the conclusion of the group’s previous deal with Warner Music Group.

With full control over all of their recorded material to date, Metallica confirmed plans to re-release remastered versions of their entire back catalogue, starting with the Kill ’Em All (1983) and Ride The Lightning (1984) albums, including some rather lavish expanded deluxe box set editions.

It seems that this full-on treatment of their past records has been something that’s been on the band’s to-do list for some time. “I can’t tell you that it’s been part of a 20 year plan or whatever, but we obviously knew it was going to come at some point,” discloses drummer Lars Ulrich. “In Metallica we have a lot of big picture ideas that we’d like to get to eventually, but some of them kinda fall to the wayside because there’s not enough time or were over ambitious. We’ve actually had this idea sitting there for a couple of years, but now is the right time.

“As you know, there’s a Master Of Puppets (1986) book that’s coming in September (Metallica: Back To The Front) by this guy named Matt Taylor who did the great Jaws book (Jaws: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard, 2011) that came out a few years ago. And I think in some way he probably is a little bit responsible for us kicking ourselves in the ass and getting on with it, because we agreed to do his project a couple of years ago and then we sort of realised that having the Master Of Puppets reissue come out the same time as the book would probably be a pretty cool thing. But it’s been a little odd trying to do the new record at the same time as these reissues because there’s this kinda weird contradiction of two feet forward and two feet back.”

It appears that putting together the remastered editions, especially the deluxe box sets, has not been a straight forward process. “The hardest part, especially with the early records, is there’s a big part of our past where we had so many different record labels involved,” Lars observes. “There was Jonny Z and Megaforce, Roadrunner, Music For Nations, and subsequently with Ride The Lightning Elektra, and CBS in Japan. There’s so many labels, so many different people that were involved and we were finding that masters, like Kill ’Em All, had disappeared into thin air. So we hired a guy named Bob Pfeifer, who’s worked for us now for the best part of two years, and his job is to go round to storage vaults all over the world to get back as much of this stuff as possible. What happens a lot in these storage facilities is that a lot of stuff ends up in the wrong boxes, and we found stuff in boxes that were labelled as other bands. So there’s a part of that process that is frustrating and difficult, but obviously as we get further into the catalogue to the later records we’re more and more on top of where that stuff is, because we were being more concise with our record companies and so on.

Metallica 1984 (l-r): Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Cliff Burton

“It’s certainly been fun to revisit a lot of the old early stuff, but, like I said before, it’s been a little weird because we sort of started the process more or less when we started writing and recording the new record about a year and a half ago. So there’s been this odd paradox of trying to reinvent the wheel one more time and looking ahead and writing songs, about the future and stuff, but then again sitting there and trying to figure out what you did in 1983, and what you had for breakfast the day you recorded ‘No Remorse’ up in Rochester (New York). So there’s been this kinda weird energy between the future and the past.

“Like with any of these endeavours and journeys, there are often parts that are bewildering and a little head scratching and difficult. We’ve been trying to get all the material together and kind of feeling like that maybe this is our one shot. As you know, Metallica has a tendency to go deep, deep, deep, and we’re quit anal and particular with a lot of these types of things. It’s also been a little bit difficult to let go of some of these things that we either couldn’t find or things that we couldn’t facilitate, because we wanted it to be as encompassing as possible.

“But when we get to some of the later records we’ll be able to include a lot of outtakes. I mean, ‘Seek And Destroy’ that’s on Kill ’Em All with take number four. Wouldn’t it have been great if we could have put take three and take five in there? But we don’t have the master tapes. As we get further into it, and especially as we do …And Justice For All (1988) and The Black Album (Metallica, 1991), and then Load (1996) and ReLoad (1997), we have vaults and vaults of stuff. The only thing is though, where do we draw the line? So it’s gonna be a lot of fun to come up with different things and different takes and different guitar solos; all the stuff that people sit and salivate over. Like the reissue of Made In Japan (Deep Purple, originally released in 1972) and hearing ‘Child In Time’ from the second night in Osaka that has a different Ritchie Blackmore guitar solo, and you just sit there and lose your mind and fucking salivate, you know? So, as we get further into some of the other records we’ll be able to do more of that kinda stuff.”

The hardcover books that come with the deluxe box sets of Kill ’Em All and Ride The Lightning feature an impressive array of rare photos, press clippings, flyers and other memorabilia from the respected periods, many of which came from the band’s own personal collections. “We had a fair amount of stuff ourselves,” the skin beater confirms. “But the most frustrating thing about the book is that all of us had stuff, especially me, including a lot of cool pictures, but we didn’t know who the photographers were? So you get into that whole situation with copyright and stuff, and we didn’t want to put photos in the book where we didn’t have any idea who took them and put us in a compromising situation – we didn’t want to cheat someone out of credit or payment or whatever. You know, I have 30 pictures of Metallica and Tank hanging out at some place, but I had no idea who took the pictures, so we didn’t want to put them in the book and then it all went sour and unpleasant.

“Most of the stuff came from our own vaults and collections, but, as you know, through the internet we put some feelers out to our fans saying that if there was something that they wanted to share to send it on in, and we got some very cool stuff from the fans and some of our friends.”

The book also includes a number of essays from people who were there from the beginning, but surprisingly no essays from the band members themselves? “You know what, that’s a good question,” Lars chuckles. “Er, I guess nobody asked us… nice one. That is literally the first time anybody has brought that up. I guess Marc (Reiter) or Spider Dan (Dan Nykolayko) or some of the people who are our creative partners thought that everybody’s heard from the members of Metallica talk to death about all this stuff that the last thing anyone wanted was Lars to talk one more time about something that happened in 1983. Honestly, that never came up once. At least it never showed up in my inbox; I was never asked if I wanted to write something?!”

Metallica in rehearsal for their first live gig in March 1982 (l-r): Ron McGoveny,
James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Dave Mustaine

This latest cycle of reissues really kicked off with the No Life ’Til Leather demo (originally issued in 1982) that Metallica released on cassette in April 2015 for Record Store Day. Expanded versions of No Life ’Til Leather in CD, vinyl and limited edition deluxe box set format were also scheduled for a summer 2015 release. However, these have so far failed to materialise? “Er, good question,” the drummer ponders. “That was the original plan, but then… How do I say this in the most diplomatic of ways? (pause) We always roll along in our own optimistic ways, and never think too much about the potential downside of any of the endeavours that we just throw ourselves optimistically into and that there could be some potential legal obstacles. But there were some unexpected difficulties on the legal side that prevented the No Life ’Til Leather box set and our vision for how we were going to kick this whole reissue series off. We spent some time doing that dance, but then James (Hetfield) and I decided that it wasn’t worth it getting bogged down in all the unpleasantries, because this was supposed to be a celebration and not end up being a tug of war, so we thought, ‘You know what? Fuck it. We’ll just move on to Kill ’Em All.”

No Life ’Til Leather features former Metallica members Dave Mustaine (guitar, Megadeth) and Ron McGoveny (bass), and the original recordings had been paid for by High Velocity record label owner Kenny Kane with a view of releasing an EP in 1982. However, Lars refuses to be drawn into details of the legal obstacles. “It’s a little more complicated than that,” he offers. “There’s no reason to go deeper into it, it was just something that we hadn’t expected.”

But it would appear that those same legal issues did not compromise the reissue of the No Life ’Til Leather cassette. “The release of the cassette was fine,” Lars clarifies. “The original vision was to do a similar box set for No Life ’Til Leather with all the different recordings and all the cool items and go as deep into No Life ’Til Leather as we did with Kill ’Em All and Ride The Lightning, but it just didn’t happen for reasons that caught us off guard. We decided that instead of slugging it out and letting it get too crazy that we’d move on.”

Lars, though, hasn’t given up entirely on the planned expanded versions appearing at a later date. “As you know, I am the eternal optimist and I am the eternal ‘glass is well fucking half full’,” he reasons. “So who knows? I think some of those parties have circled back around now that they’ve seen that this is real and so we’ll have to see. I mean, it’s not going to happen right now. We’ll keep rolling on, with Master Of Puppets coming out in the fall and then …And Justice For All and so on coming next year, but It would be great to share No Life ’Til Leather in a year or two with our fans and with the people that care. We haven’t shut the door on it.”

One option that doesn’t seem to be on the table when it comes to revisiting Metallica’s past albums is the band re-recording any of their earlier material. “No, there’s never been any talk of that,” Lars reveals. “There are three different stages to the creative process; there’s recording, mixing and mastering. Mastering is the one that continuously improves the most from a technical and sonic point of view, and that’s why people remaster their records. Remixing is something that occasionally people do – ZZ Top remixed their entire catalogue and some other bands give their stuff a fresh remix – but we’ve not done that. There will of course always be someone who’ll sit there and say ‘remix …And Justice For All’ or whatever, but it’s not something we’ve certainly thought about seriously. But re-recording – I think that would be a no-fly zone.”

In Scott Ian’s 2014 autobiography I’m The Man: The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax, the guitarist claimed that when Anthrax were supporting Metallica on their Master Of Puppets European tour in 1986 he had become aware of a conversation between James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton in which they were planning to fire Lars Ulrich from the band at the end of the trek. Obviously the events of September 27th that year, with the tragic tour bus accident in southern Sweden that claimed the life of Burton, would have sidelined any plans to replace their drummer.

Metallica 1986 (l-r): Cliff Burton, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett

However, the longstanding rumour was then given credence by Kirk Hammett in a November 2015 interview with Albany, New York radio station PYX 106, with the guitarist stating they had been “unhappy” and “pissed off at Lars” during that 1986 tour. Hammett did not clarify why they had become dissatisfied with their band mate. Lars though, had no idea of the clandestine plan to oust him from the band he had co-founded with Hetfield in 1981. “It’s certainly not something that I was ever aware of,” he admits. “But I can tell you that there’s been other times as we’ve cruised along where there’s been some friction with this band member or that band member, and where things were a little awkward with this particular guy, or whatever.

“When you have a collective entity like Metallica, that’s been together for 35 years, there are different times on that journey where the idea of what to do next in a particular sticky dynamic has brought upon different options of different potential resolutions. There were times when Kirk was kinda floating out there, and there were a couple of times when Hetfield was kinda floating out there, and there were different times when I was kinda floating out there, so it was very possible. I’m sure Scott Ian knows something that I don’t, and I’m fine with that. It was just not something that was ever on my radar.”

Lars revealed that he has not spoken to Kirk Hammett about those recent comments. “No, I make a point of not to read any of Kirk’s interviews,” he laughs. “I really don’t read interviews. I don’t know, the whole thing of 20 years ago sitting there and following what Mustaine is saying this week in Kerrang! and what Bruce Dickinson is thinking about this, and all that kinda stuff – I just don’t follow one paragraph of it anymore. I mean, I can’t open some of my web pages or check the news headlines or whatever without being aware of the fact Kirk Hammett said this or somebody else says that. Obviously it’s hard to exist in 2016 without some of this stuff showing up on your radar, but I don’t read it and I don’t follow it.”

With the changes in the traditional business model of the music industry in recent years, it was inevitable that a band of Metallica’s stature would eventually take ownership of their entire recorded material and launch their own record label. “Listen, the practicalities of the music world for releasing records is, as know, such a crazy moving target these days,” the skinsman reasons. “And before you can even figure out what is going on today, tomorrow is different again. So somewhere along the line of the last 10-15 years we sort of resigned ourselves to the fact that we would sort of evaluate what’s best for the music, for the records, for the fans and for the greater good of Metallica as we go along, rather than feel that we have to have one particular way that it has to be and then get caught flat-footed when the whole thing fucking changes two years later, or whenever.

“I look at the music world now as the Wild West, and I think we have to sit there and be open to any of these endeavours going almost wherever they can go – there’s no right or wrong anymore. So, as we went along and the countdown was on for us to get our masters back and be the masters of our own destiny, obviously doing it our own way was the primary objective. But you have to be realistic, especially in Europe and Asia and Latin America where you’re dealing with different countries, different currencies, different infrastructures, and different ways of doing things in some places that are very particular to that country, that you can’t have an overall strategy or overall philosophy that whatever’s good for the United States is also good in Serbia or in Portugal.

“The objective is to try to get the music out to as many people as possible and make ourselves as accessible as possible, and in a lot of countries there are different ways of doing that. Our friends at Universal, who’ve been our friends for many years, help as in a lot of countries around the world. In America and Canada we’ve taken the bull by the horns and doing it primarily ourselves, but we still have a distribution deal with a company that gets our record into record stores. It’s not like we have members of the Metallica fan club parading around with boxes of CDs at record stores (laughs).

“The one thing we’re obviously at right now, primarily in all quarters across all the regions, is financially independent. That obviously helps a lot as we’re free from the control that people have upon you when they have a financial interest in what you’re doing.”

Lars Ulrich

There’s no doubt that with the aid of modern technology that it’s far easier for hard rock and metal bands to be seen and heard globally today than it was when Metallica started out back in 1981, but that doesn’t mean it’s now easier for new bands to achieve success. In fact, there are many factors that would suggest that it’s now more difficult. “I don’t know,” Lars ponders. “I have three kids. I have a 17-year old son, who is an insane drummer who left his dad in the dust years ago – which is obviously not a great feat! He’s been in and out of bands for the last two or three years. He’s done his Foo Fighters period, his Artic Monkeys period, his Queens Of The Stone Age period, and now he’s playing Weather Report, jazz fusion, heavy r’n’b and whatever. The thing that he’s always talking to me about is not so much how difficult it is to start a band, but what I hear from him is, like, ‘fuck I wish I was alive in the 70s and 80s when music was so better.’ He talks a lot about how the quality of music in 2016 is not as interesting as it was. And I think that’s a fair argument or fair discussion to have.

“I certainly think that that there are a lot of great bands out there, but if you look at the stuff that you and I grew up with starting in the late 60s and through the 70s, the stuff that shaped us into who we were and who we ended up becoming, with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal and everything that happened in the 80s. I mean, there was vitality, there was a creative energy and there was still an excitement and new frontiers and unexplored territories, and all that kind of stuff that was happening. But it’s kinda like in jazz music, where the purest say that after Ornette Coleman showed up, that nothing’s really happened in jazz music since the mid-to-late 60s. You can sit there and you can have an intellectual conversation about whether that is true or not, but there are people that say that.

“So you can say in hard rock music, is there a point where you hit the wall? There are certainly bands out there that are passionate and doing stuff, but are there any unexplored territories left? Is there anyone really doing anything in 2016 that’s new and exciting? I don’t know. I mean, when The Sword came along a few years ago I was certainly into it, but that’s still seven or eight years ago. I don’t know if there’s anyone in hard rock that’s blown my mind in the last few years. That’s not a diss on new bands or whatever. I’m just saying that’s what I hear from 17-year olds.”

Metallica fans and detractors alike often question how the band would fair in today’s musical climate if they were just starting out now, but it’s not something that Lars really cares to speculate about. “People ask me versions of that, and I really don’t know what to say?” he responds. “If James and I had met each other in 2014, and this was year two of Metallica? Of course it would be different, but what would it be? I’m just not very good at ‘what if?’ questions. What if Cliff hadn’t passed on in the accident? What if you hadn’t picked Bob Rock as your producer? What if you turned right and not left that day? Who the fuck knows?

“It is what it is. You know, there are people like James who says a lot in interviews that this was the master plan or whatever, and I totally respect that, but I’m a little more practical. I go ‘where we are today is because of 37, 228 decisions we made along the way’ (laughs). That’s the way it’s played out and there’s not much you can really do about it. I sort of accept the way it’s played out and I’d like to accept 35 years in that it’s been a pretty decent ride. There’s obviously been a few things along the way that we had hoped hadn’t played out the way they played out, but overall you could argue that we can hold our heads up high. I think we’ve made a pretty decent job of keeping it pure and keeping on the straight up and up and adhering to our own crazy creative visions along the way, for better or worse.”

It’s been well documented that Metallica have been working on a new full-length studio record on and off for the best part of the last five years. Recent reports suggest the process is nearing completion, but Lars is still rather cagey about revealing too many details or when the public can expect the release of the new album. “You know what they say, ‘today is one day closer than yesterday,’” he jests. “I look it at two processes, and we’re now coming towards the end of the musical creative process and we’re starting to look ahead and the process of how we’re gonna share this record with the universe.”

The band has been recording at Metallica HQ in San Rafael, California with Greg Fidelman, who was the engineer on Death Magnetic. “Greg Fidelman is 24/7 on this record and has been since last summer,” Lars enthuses. “He’s doing an insanely great job and has been putting his heart and soul in it pretty much every waking moment of his life in helping us engineer and produce this record.”

The only new Metallica song to appear since Death Magnetic and its companion EP Beyond Magnetic (2012) has been ‘Lords Of Summer’, first released digitally as a “first pass” demo version in June 2014. But Lars could not confirm if this track would be included on the new opus. “You are a nosey guy aren’t you?” he laughs. “Honestly, hand on heart, I don’t know. I’ve not said this to anyone else, but why not give Bernard Doe the exclusive. The month of June is basically when we’re gonna sit down and figure what we’re gonna do with it all – what we’re gonna call it and what songs are gonna be on it. At the moment I don’t have any answers, but when I do we’ll get it all out there in due time. But if the record doesn’t come out this year then it won’t be because it’s not done. It will be because there’s some sort of cosmic reason that it would be smarter to hold onto it until next year. But the record will be done this summer.”

Metallica (l-r): Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo

As Lars has noted, Metallica have been working in the studio on the new record in parallel with overseeing the recent reissues of Kill ’Em All and Ride The Lightning, so I was curious to know if revisiting those early glory years had any inspiration on the new material? “That’s a great question,” Lars acknowledges. “We sort of crossed that line with Rick (Rubin, producer) on the last record. Rick was very encouraging of us allowing ourselves to be inspired by our past, and to sit back and think about what it was with those earlier songs and records that was working, what was our mindset at the time, what were the practical elements, and so on and so forth. I think we had denied ourselves the opportunity to be inspired by our past work and by our past records, but Rick made us feel okay about doing that and actually encouraged us to do it.

“So there was a little bit of that mentality that carried on to the creation of these new songs, in terms of feeling okay about letting some of the earlier stuff kinda reignite sparks. But I can’t tell you that song four on the next record was directly inspired by some song on Kill ’Em All. There’s not anything of that level yet, at least not for me, but I think we’ve been a little more forgiving of ourselves to kind of let the past not be something that we’re running away from all of the time.”

As the tradition of owning music as a physical product continues to decline in favour of streaming services and selective downloading of tracks, questions are being asked just how relevant the album format is in this day and age? “You know what, we’re about to find out!” chuckles Lars. “I don’t know. I mean, relevant to whom? To the fans? To the critics? To record companies? I can tell you that they’re certainly still relevant to me. It’s been a lot of fun in the last year writing new songs and recording them, and I can tell you that we’re psyched like little children to get out there to play these new songs.

“I was speaking to someone the other day, and they were saying ‘I went to see Iron Maiden and they played like eight songs from the new record. What the fuck are they thinking?’ And I’m going, ‘You know what they’re thinking? They’re fucking psyched by the new record and wanna get out and play it in front of people, instead of playing ‘Running Free’ for the 23rd thousandth time’. I can totally relate to that, and I can say that we are psyched to get out there and play new songs and have new songs to pick from as I put set lists together, and I think pretty much all of these new songs are gonna work very well in a kinda new environment. So I’m psyched, but I can’t tell you in some cosmic way what does a fucking record mean in 2016. Obviously it’s no secret that across the board it means less and less, but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do them if you want to. We still like making records and writing songs, so we’ll keep doing that.”

While it’s understandable for any musician to want to perform new songs that they’ve recently shed blood, sweat and tears creating, the fact is a vast majority of concert goers are there to hear familiar favourites from days gone by. And that can be a challenging situation for a band like Metallica with an abundance of classic tracks to choose from when out on the road promoting a new album. “Obviously I’m aware of the fact that when we play a stadium most of the people are not there to hear track seven from the new record, and would rather hear a song from The Black Album,” concedes Lars. “But it’s about finding the right balances. It’s all about balances, and we can hopefully keep those balances in check and figure out what our needs are and what everybody else’s needs are. Obviously if you are playing at Rasputin (in Berkeley, California) to 200 people in a record store, like we did recently (on April 16th, 2016 for Record Store Day), it’s a different dynamic than playing to 53,000 people in a new stadium in Minneapolis, and seriously, I do get that part of it. But we try to adhere to some sensible balances with everybody’s needs and not eliminating our own needs.”

Metallica are a band that will always be prepared to go that extra mile when it comes to exploring new territories to play live – a December 2013 performance in Antarctica being a prime example. “There aren’t many places left,” the drummer reflects. “We played in Dubai a couple of times which has been unbelievable, because you get fans travelling in from places like Iran, Iraq, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Kuwait, and seeing 30-40,000 people from that part of the world together in a venue sharing a two hour Metallica experience literally puts goose bumps on your back. And seeing all the flags together waving in unison through the language of music and leaving all of their differences behind outside of the venue is insane. So, if there are territories in other parts of the world that we haven’t been to where the infrastructure supports the Metallica shows, we’d love to go there in a nanosecond. There aren’t many places left, but we’ll keep trying to turn over stones and rocks and see where we can go, and we’d certainly be up for it, as you know, always.”

Metallica (l-r): James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo

Another modern day phenomenon that has crept into the metal scene is Meet-And-Greets. Packages will vary, but there are a lot of bands who now charge a premium just to pose for photos with fans, shake hands and sign items. However, this practice is frowned upon by many, especially the older generation who grew up in an era when bands were only too happy to show appreciation when meeting their fans without seizing on the opportunity to make a quick buck.

So far, Metallica have not charged for Meet-And-Greets, instead preferring to have a free lottery system for members of their fan club to get the chance to meet their idols. But that’s not to say it won’t happen in the future. “You sort of roll on with the way things change,” Lars informs. “And as I’ve said many times before, it’s a whole new frontier out there. There is now more and more different tiers and different levels. I mean, it’s been going on for decades. Like, do you want to fly in the back of a plane, do you want to fly in the middle of the plane, or do you want to fly in the front of a plane? Do you want a ‘fast pass’ when you go to an amusement park so that you don’t have to stand in line? It’s all the same shit, and obviously that’s now infiltrated itself into music.

“We haven’t really explored all that because we haven’t really done a new tour in a while, and it seems to have come around since the Death Magnetic endeavour. People want access, so we’re gonna sit down and look at all the options and do what we always do and make it as ‘Metallica’ as possible and try and be as faithful and as reasonable as possible. I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but I’m pretty sure we’re gonna take a look at what some of the options are because basically everybody is doing it, and if everybody is doing it that means obviously there’s a demand for it. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna sign every record of every kid that hangs out at the hotel or at the airport or wherever to the best of my ability, like I always do. But at the same time, if there’s a bunch of people who want to sit down in the front row or take the fucking chair home with them or get a different level t-shirt, then why should we not make that available? We’re just gonna look at it. And just because I’m saying we’re gonna look at it doesn’t mean to say I’m gonna start charging 500 dollars to fucking sign something.

“I’m not saying we have the right answers, but what we do seems to work for us. Listen, honestly, we’re 35 years into this and we’re still trying to figure it all out like everybody else is. Let’s celebrate the fact that we’re fortunate enough that our livelihoods don’t depend on charging for signing record sleeves, so we don’t have to go there. But I’m not gonna sit here and knock somebody else who does. I just don’t judge. I’m not gonna sit there on a fucking pedestal to give them shit for that. I can only say what works for us.”

Like all successful bands, Metallica has more than its fair share of haters out there. But despite the criticism and ridicule, there can be no denying that in 2016 the band’s popularity continues to go from strength to strength. “Our home town has never been one of our strongest cities,” Lars divulges. “But we played a stadium show here in February (at the AT&T Park in San Francisco) and we sold it out in like 12 seconds. And we’re putting a stadium show on in Minneapolis in August for the opening of a new football stadium there (U.S. Bank Stadium) and we sold 50,000 tickets in like another 12 seconds. For reasons that are peculiar to us, we are as popular if not more popular than we’ve ever been. So I don’t know if the answer is to not put any new records out? (laughs). I don’t know what the fucking answer is, but Metallica still have some kinda relevance and a significant role in a pretty significant number of people’s lives. But I almost feel that it’s better to not question that too much and not to intellectualise that too much, because I guess I’m kinda scared if you start over thinking it then that can change the path you’re on and then you in some way belittle it or do a disservice to what you’re doing. I think there are enough capable people out there, including yourself, who can do that in the press.

“But listen, fuck, who would have thought 35 years ago that I’d be sitting here talking to you about reissues, new albums, stadium concerts selling out in just fucking seconds, and people still giving a shit? So it’s pretty cool. I’m super proud as to what we’ve done and I think we’ll still have some exciting and interesting years ahead of us.”

Interview published in June 2016.