JAMES HETFIELD On 'Death Magnetic': 'I Needed To Get Heavy And Scary With Myself Again'

August 30, 2008

The New York Times has published a brand new article on METALLICA featuring quotes from all four members of the band and Rick Rubin, the producer of their forthcoming "Death Magnetic" album.

Rubin had seen "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster", the 2004 documentary about the band's near-breakup and mendingand found it "brutal." It was the group at its worst, he said, "artistically and personally."

He wanted the band members "to try to erase many years of thinking about either needing to change their sound, or evolve," he told The New York Times. "If your marching orders for the first 20 years have been 'change, change, change,' then letting go of those preconceived ideas is in its own way a new idea."

In his first meeting with METALLICA two years ago, Rubin gave the band a writing assignment. "I asked them to imagine themselves not as METALLICA," he said. "I said to them, let's say there was a battle of the bands coming up and nobody knew who they were, and they can't rely on any of their hits to get them over. What would that sound like?"

He told them that "Master of Puppets" was the band's best album. He asked them to imagine that it represented only half the material they owed the record company in 1986. What would the other half sound like? "It can't sound like those songs, because you already have those songs," he explained. "The exercise wasn't to rewrite songs like that, but to write songs in that spirit."

Guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield told The New York Times trying to go back in time was "a nice idea, and pretty near impossible."

"We know too much," he continued. "You can't make yourself a virgin again. But I got what Rubin meant."

When asked whether it wasn't difficult to climb back into the person he used to be, having only recently reformed, Hetfield told The New York Times, "Yeah, I would say that was a different person. I know more now. But on this record, I needed to take the reins again, and get heavy and scary with myself again. I don't have to be afraid of the anger. I think it's a lot easier to access now. I know how far I want to go with it, and I've gone far and still been O.K. I've had duality my whole life. There's the person I hide and the person I show. I'm the entertainer out there! I'm the master of the stage! When that's done, I get to go sit by myself. So I am both. Is that the one I want to be? Is this the one I want to be? Probably neither. But living in the middle just seems too blah."

Read the entire article from The New York Times.

James Hetfield: "I needed to take the reins again, and get heavy and scary with myself again." (Photo displayed from The Boston Phoenix):

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