Death, addiction, lawsuits… Through all the trials and tribulations, Metallica have somehow survived more than 35 years on hard rock’s relentless road. The youthful fire that scorched a blazing path through the metal scene back in the early 1980s still burns brightly, despite all four members now being in their 50s. The Red Bulletin speaks exclusively with band members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
On celebrating your sixth number one album last November:
James: Oh man… for sure! But you know, it’s bizarre, and very surprising. The older we get, the more special getting a number one album is going to get. After 35 years, that this can still happen, it’s great. It’s the oxygen we need!
Lars: The fact that Metallica can still release records that matter to people is a great thing; that hard music still matters to people is a great thing. I feel like rock groups are becoming a minority. There are fewer and fewer bands doing well on a global scale, so being one of them is a privilege. It’s a good time to be in Metallica
With hindsight what would they change?
James: There are things I would like to change on some of the records, but it gives them so much character that you can’t change them. I find it a little frustrating when bands re-record classic albums with pretty much the same songs and have it replace the original. It erases that piece of history. These records are a product of a certain time in life; they’re snapshots of history and they’re part of our story.
On being their own bosses:
Lars: I’d like to think that we’re still crazy adults, still trying to figure it all out. When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a businessman, but obviously when you have a bunch of people who work for you, there’s a point where you at least have to act mature. I’m 53 now, but I still feel like “It’s good to learn from others… but deep down we’re still rebels, risk-takers. We like being challenged by life and being faced with the question ‘What do we do next with this gift we have?’ Planning and preparation is only part of it. Guts, soul and fire are also invaluable weapons”.