James Hetfield Says Metallica Makes Music They Want To Hear

Inside a Brooklyn soundstage, Metallica has a relaxed vibe. The bandmates are making a music video for the single “Now That We’re Dead” from their new album, “Hardwired. To Self-Destruct.”

After frontman James Hetfield returns from the all-white set following his bit in front of the camera, he hands off his guitar, shakes out his hand and is relieved he “didn’t drop the pick this time.”

Photo: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo, Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield pose for a portrait in New York.

It’s been eight year since producer Rick Rubin brought the band back to life – at least in the studio – with the CD Death Magnetic, and though the band has toured continuously since then, there wasn’t a sense of urgency to get back in the studio.

“Fans have reminded us,” Hetfield said. “Metallica is usually pretty busy. We don’t have watches. We don’t keep a super tight schedule, but we have fun and we do a lot of stuff.”

This is Metallica’s tenth studio album in their 35-year history, yet it’s no secret that fans prefer material recorded before 1992. Hetfield said the band plays music it wants to hear.

“That’s number one. If the fans enjoy it, that’s up to them. We can’t please everyone. We do our best, and hopefully the people show up and understand the truth and honesty to us and our craft,” Hetfield said.

This time, Metallica decided to make their album close to their homes near San Francisco. “We all live in northern California with all of our families, and take our domestic responsibilities very seriously. So we decided that we wanted to make this record at home,” drummer Lars Ulrich said.

Both Ulrich and Hetfield said they were able to maintain their classic sound by hiring Greg Fidelman. He worked on Death Magnetic with Rubin, serving as engineer. This time around, he stepped up to co-produce the record with Ulrich and Hetfield.

“It’s nice to get the creative juices flowing to be able to sort of go down to the studio and interact with your partners in crime, and still make music that you feel still has something of a relevance and get it out there and share,” Ulrich said.

And speaking of sharing the music, the band plans to do it with a lengthy world tour. “There will be no shortage of Metallica coming to your country or to your town or your backyard any time soon, trust me,” Ulrich said.

Photo: AP Photo / Kathy Kmonicek
Global Citizen Festival, Great Lawn @ Central Park, New York City

As they did with the last record, Hetfield and Ulrich plan to cycle through all 12 new songs to “continue to keep fans on their toes.” On their last tour, Metallica were ready with 60 songs at a moment’s notice.

Ulrich noted that since the band has made recording of their live shows available to fans 12 years ago, they haven’t played the show twice. “It’s important to us to be able to play a different set list every night,” he said. “The whole idea is to try to mix up.”