JAMES HETFIELD: 'It's Impossible To Completely Regain Your Innocence Or Virginity'

September 18, 2008

Brad Tolinski of Guitar World magazine recently conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

On "Death Magnetic"'s lyrics:

"The theme of our new album is that we're all gonna die sometime. Just like the poles of a magnet, some people are drawn to death and others are repulsed by it, but we all have to deal with it. Lyrically, it started as a bit of a tribute to [ALICE IN CHAINS singer] Layne Staley and all those who've martyred themselves in the name of rock and roll. But it grew and evolved from there.”

On METALLICA's controversial 2003 album "St. Anger":

"I wasn't a big fan of not having any solos on the album. Being a singer, there are very few songs I listen to just for the solos, but the solo is the voice for a little while. And not having that element on 'St. Anger' was somewhat — I don't want to say ‘boring' — but it made the album pretty one-dimensional. Either the singing was on or the riff was on. Or that snare sound was on."

On the sound of "Death Magnetic":

"I guess I would say that it's a look backward — taking the essence of our earlier style and playing it with our current skills. It's impossible to completely regain your innocence or virginity. When we recorded our first albums, we had no regard for authority or for the way things were supposed to be. We'd walk into a studio and we'd play what we knew and that was that. Some of the engineers would complain and say things like, 'You can't hear the vocal,' or 'You can't hear the guitar…what's that sound?' And we'd say, 'That's us! Record it, please.' [laughs] We tried to capture that attitude again. It's one of the reasons we chose Rick Rubin to produce the album. He's good at capturing the essence of the artists he works with."

To read the rest of this interview, pick up the December issue of Guitar World, on sale now.

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