Metallica Gets Back On The Bus

A measly volcano spewing ash over Europe isn’t enough to stop the mighty Metallica from making its appointed rounds.

While Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull continues to impact air travel, Metallica has managed to keep up with its Euro tour schedule by resorting to a form of transportation the band hasn’t relied on in more than two decades – buses.

Photo: AP Photo
Estadio De La Universidad Nacional Mayor De San Marcos, Lima, Peru

While talking to reporters in Vilnius, Lithuania, Kirk Hammett told reporters the band’s journey from Oslo to the Latvian capital of Riga, a trip that usually takes two hours by air, took 28 hours.

“I just could not relax, thinking, ‘Wow, those buses have changed a lot since we traveled.’ They are so much more comfortable,” Hammett said. “You see, we did not use this means of transportation for more than two decades since the tragedy.”

The “tragedy” Hammett referred to was the accident that occurred during the band’s 1986 European tour when the tour bus lost control and flipped several times near Dorarp, Sweden, killing bassist Cliff Burton.

“When we boarded the bus again this week and had to travel overnight, I realized that those bad memories are still here,” Hammett said. “I still haven’t overcome the fear of buses. But the show must go on.”

Buses are only one part of Metallica’s alternate travel plans. When volcanic ash drifting over European skies shut down air travel throughout the continent late last week, the band rode a bus from Oslo to Stockholm then boarded a cruise ship to sail to Riga.

As the band settled back for the cruise, the ship’s passengers couldn’t believe they were sharing the decks with one of the world’s most famous bands.

“It was kind of exciting, like a big party,” passenger Liga Viskinte said, adding she saw James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo drinking beer in the ship’s karaoke bar while another passenger attempted to sing the band’s version of “Whiskey In The Jar.”

Photo: Jason Moore
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.

Depending on the flight situation come Thursday, Metallica might have to rely on a 13-hour train ride from Lithuania to Moscow in order to play the Russian city Saturday night.

But Hammett didn’t seem perturbed about the change in travel plans.

“It would take a really great force to stop us,” Hammett said, adding that he wasn’t sure how the band would transport its crew and gear back to the states. “But we’ll figure it out somehow.”