IN the eight years since their last studio album Death Magnetic, Metallica has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, headlined The Big Four tour with Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, made the album Lulu with Lou Reed, celebrated a 30th anniversary, launched the Orion Music + More fest, starred in the 3D movie Through the Never, and became the first band to play in all seven continents in a calendar year. James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo chat about their new double album release, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.
How did the album’s title track come about?
KH In this day and age, basically everything you do gets recorded. There’s this scene… At every sound check, rehearsal, every jam, every warm-up, in the tuning room, on the road – everything is recorded. James is prolific every time he picks up a guitar, there’s one great riff after another. We first started to listen to all the stuff since Death Magnetic. There were 1,500 ideas that were literally locked. A couple of summers ago, I started listing those ideas, and read out what I thought were good starting places. JH Hardwired is where Death Magnetic left off, with the track My apocalypse. It just hits you, and this album does the same thing. The album has that intense epic vibe. LU Hardwired was the last song to be written. With all the stuff put together in 18 songs, we thought we needed something that said, ‘Hello!’ This song was the last to be written and the first to be put out there — and probably the most different of all the songs out there. KH We were basically done with the record, when we realised, there was no opening song. We just put it together, to the point of James saying, ‘No five-minute epic acoustic intro. Just hit them with the first punch. Hit them with the first song.’
Lyrically, there is a loner vibe to the track, Atlas, Rise! Metal has, kind of, been the music for the loner.
Is loneliness something you guys always identified with?
LU For me, that will never change. Whether it’s the Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin generation, or whether it’s Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Saxon, and fill in all the rest of ’em. We will always be a fan of those generations, because it was what we grew up with, it was what made us who we are, it’s in our DNA. I will always be a fan of that music. Thirty five years later, no matter what Metallica has become, that hasn’t changed. KH I’m still a fan of that period that Lars just talked about — the ’70 and early ’80s. I’ve been so influenced by the music from back then. Now, as a working musician for 40 years or so, that period of music has become a point of reference. When I need inspiration or even information, I go to that time period, and I feel like a fan. JH I like what you said about the ‘loner’ thing. There’s a part of me that loves being a loner — just loves it, craves it, and that whole lone-wolf attitude. It’s just so comforting. But then, the other side of that is, I’ve got the weight of the world on me, I have to do everything myself. I’m a martyr now, and I become a victim, and all that. So you’re right about the loner part and the responsibility around it.
What were the origins of the album’s artwork?
LU We met these guys four to five years ago. When Jess (his wife, model Jessica Miller) and I got hitched up in the mountains, we asked them to come up and shoot the wedding. For a wedding present, they gave us this crazy picture of the two of us superimposed on each other, and we were like, this is awesome. I showed it to James and said, ‘One day, when we do something in the future, we should get these guys to do all of us on top of each other.’ Three years later, they shot all of us doing that crazy superimposed stuff, in the same place. We gave the pictures to David Turner, who has done all our artwork for the last 10 years. We didn’t know it was gonna be that cool. The images are striking, and different from anything we have done before. KH It was so powerful, it was a total no-brainer. In Central America, there was this massive poster of that image, and James was like, ‘Look, it’s your face on the cover!’ And, I’m like, ‘No, that’s not my face, that’s your eyebrow.’
RT Wait a minute, that’s Kirk’s nose. No, that’s you…LU I know, that’s my tongue. That’s all I know for sure.
What made Spit out the bone the album’s final track?
KH It was all a blur. The song didn’t become the closure until Hardwired became the opener. RT Spit out the bone is my favourite song, it has personality. James’ vocals brought that song together. It was a wild roller coaster ride. It was like a bass break and in the end, it blossomed.
KH It’s a fine line when you go on that kind of a journey. If all the pieces fit, you’re in a great place, and if they don’t, you know it’s a riff tape, and people will say, what are these guys thinking? When it works, it’s magic.
Hardwired… to Self-Destruct Rs 7,733 (limited deluxe edition vinyl box set), Rs 650 (audio CD). Available on amazon.in