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Wednesday August 28, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday August 28, 2013 MYT 3:53:56 PM
by brian yong
Through the years: Being in a band is like being in a marriage, according to Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield (second from right). ‘The more work you put into it (marriage), the more love you get out of it,’ he said of the band’s longevity.
After more than three decades of creating
life-changing music, heavy metal masters Metallica are all fuelled up to face the future.
METALHEADS in Malaysia had another reason to rejoice, as Metallica, one of the world’s biggest metal bands, graced our shores for the first time last Wednesday to play to a packed stadium filled with fans who have waited years to watch them live in action.
A few hours before the concert, we sat down with frontman James Hetfield as he revealed refreshing and introspective anecdotes about the band.
“The Asia Tour’s been great. After 32 years of touring, it is remarkable to come to a new country like Malaysia. There’s always a first, even at my ripe old age of 50,” he laughed. Although laid-back in demeanour, his sheer presence was magnetic. You couldn’t help but be drawn to his calm and controlled disposition. After all, this is the voice and founder of Metallica before us.
Without missing a beat, he compared the difference between their younger, mayhem-making days and the Metallica of today.
“Now, we’re all about going out there and play for our large (Metallica) family from around the planet, and to put a smile on people’s faces. It’s different, and we’re not afraid to be honest about how we feel at this age. Musically, we’re not catering to anyone except ourselves,” he said.
As the interview proceeded, this new-found maturity became evident as he preferred to focus on self-reflection. “Being artistes and explorers, we’re writing music for ourselves. We need to write music that we like to hear. What we have done and what we’ll continue to do is to be honest with ourselves. And if you don’t, you’ll get resentful and you’ll lose your sense of self,” he reflected before continuing, “the fans we like to attract are the ones who are open-minded, and who like to experience new things in life, not just musically. That’s the beauty of being in a band. We love what we do.”
The band, made up of drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich, 50, guitar virtuoso Kirk Hammett, 51, and the newest addition, bassist extraordinaire Robert Trujillo, 49, has also discovered that maturity is doing wonders for their musical development. “Back when we were writing the early albums, it was mostly an experiment, an adventure even.”
More than three decades and 10 studio albums on (including a collaboration with Lou Reed), Hetfield, who is also the band’s chief creator behind its million-dollar riffs, explained how Metallica conjured those magical riffs that have endeared themselves to millions of fans worldwide.
“There are different ways for those riffs to happen. For me, the writing, or being in the mood to write ... it just happens. It depends on what mood I’m in. It depends on what guitar sounds I have. A lot of times, the guitar sound has to move me in some way. It’s not just me. It’s coming from something. I’m just a messenger here, and things are coming through me and it’s a good feeling.
“Or, Lars could just play a beat and I’ll come up with, say, 20 riffs, and it feels right. We care for that gift by continuing to write.”
Having sold more than 110 million albums worldwide, Metallica are not about to rest on their laurels as they delve into a new realm of artistic expression in the form of their first 3D movie, Through The Never, scheduled for release next month in the United States. However, the seed for the movie was first planted 10 years ago – by IMAX, no less.
“They wanted to capture the energy of a Metallica show. We felt honoured. It was a couple of ideas combined – of wanting to do a movie to capture the best of Metallica on stage, from all the way back to Kill ‘Em All. We’re going to capture the essence of our shows, for example the crosses from Master Of Puppets, the coffins from Death Magnetic, and filming all that with 3D. We’ve also included a storyline. It’s about one of the roadies of the show who gets sent on an adventure. In short, it’s like two movies in one, actually,” explained Hetfield, who is proud and happy with the end result.
“It’s a huge risk for us. Throughout our career, we have discovered that everything good is usually a risk. But it’s totally worth it,” he said.
How does Metallica deal with the unrelenting demands of touring?
“We have to be honest about our physical, mental and spiritual limits. We can’t be on the road for three months at a time anymore. We have families at home, and we need to care for both family and the band. But this is a gift that we have.”
As with most bands worth their salt, success is also measured by how they overcome their obstacles. Having endured the trials and tribulations of time, Hetfield confided that the biggest challenge the band had to overcome was internal conflict. “I think that’s the number one killer of most bands. You can have everything – lots of fans, popular albums – but if you’re not happy within, it’s terrible. It’s like a marriage. It’s not easy. But the more work you put into it (marriage), the more love you get out of it. So, that’s the key for being in a band,” he emphasised.
The atmosphere took a lighter turn when the subject of a new Metallica album arose. “It’s a great rumour,” Hetfield laughed. “We’re always writing in our heads. The new movie and the Asia Tour have been keeping us very busy, so, not yet, though there’s a lot of material.”
That perhaps will give fans renewed hope that maybe, just maybe, the four horsemen will ride back to our shores to stage another spectacular show.
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Entertainment, Entertainment, James Hetfield, vocalist, Metallica, Malaysia
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