JOHN BUSH: 'METALLICA Is A Band That Never Rests On The Laurels Of What They've Done'

July 10, 2024

Former ANTHRAX and current ARMORED SAINT singer John Bush, who was offered an opportunity to join METALLICA in the early '80s but turned it down, was asked in a new interview with The Dan Chan Show what he thinks of METALLICA's recent musical output. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):  "METALLICA is a band that never rests on the laurels of what they've done. They're always taking chances, they're always doing different things, they're always expanding on their style and pushing the boundaries of the listeners, whether it's doing the orchestra stuff or doing a record with Lou Reed or making just a metal, powerful, thrashing record. The live performances — I want to see him at SoFi Stadium here [in Los Angeles], and it was phenomenal. It was really cool how they have these four different sections — they actually took this arena and yet when they were all together playing, it felt like you were almost watching them in some small room. It was amazing.

"When you're a band like METALLICA, everybody's expectations are so grand all the time," he continued. "And the reality is you're not always gonna hit the bullseye on everything, especially if you're willing to take chances, which they are. And I really commend that, because it would be easy to just kind of play it safe. And they never do. So I really respect them on that level.

"When I heard 'Lux Æterna' [the first single from METALLICA's latest album, '72 Seasons'], it sounded rad," Bush added. "It just sounded like them. It was really powerful. It's a great tune. And I was, like, 'Wow, it's cool.' And it just sounds fresh.

"James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] is one heck of a singer and just an awesome vocalist. And so, what are you gonna do? They're METALLICA."

Back in December 2021, Bush spoke about his decision to turn down an opportunity to join METALLICA in an interview with Waste Some Time With Jason Green. He said at the time: "I've been talking about this for many years now. I'm always gonna be completely super flattered about the fact that I was asked to join METALLICA back in the early '80s. It just was never meant to be my destiny, is what I always say. There's no other singer that should have been the singer of METALLICA other than James Hetfield. That was meant to be, and that's kind of the way I see it. Like I say, I'm always flattered that I'm always connected to the history of that band — it's a huge feather in my cap, so to speak — but at the end of the day, it just was not my destiny to be the singer of METALLICA. I had a different fate in store."

Bush also talked about joining METALLICA on stage on December 7, 2011 for the second of four intimate shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the week-long celebration of the band's 30th anniversary as a band for fan club members only. "Yes, that was very cool," he said. "That was an awesome experience. We did that at the Fillmore in San Francisco. It was the 30th-anniversary shows that METALLICA did, which were really, really cool. They had all these various guests coming on stage with them at the time — everyone from Ozzy [Osbourne] to King Diamond to Lou Reed to Marianne Faithful; a lot of people associated with METALLICA through the years. And ARMORED SAINT, we got to open for [METALLICA] that one particular show — one of the four — and then that was the day that I actually came on stage and sang 'The Four Horsemen' with them, which was an incredible experience. And the whole thing was really, really awesome — just a beautiful thing to be a part of. So I always have that as a great memory in my life. We had a couple of friends that were there that came with us, and my wife was there. And we had a lot of fun doing that. Like I said, I'm really flattered that METALLICA thought of me as a person that was good enough to be in their band. But, like I said, it just wasn't meant to be something that happened for the rest of the band's career."

Another singer who was being considered for the frontman position in METALLICA was Jess Cox of Newcastle, England's TYGERS OF PAN TANG.

Bush later said in an interview: "METALLICA did ask me to join, but I said no for all the right reasons. People must think that's crazy, but you have to remember the scene then. METALLICA was nobody. ARMORED SAINT was hot; you have to remember that. Also, I was very tight with the [ARMORED SAINT] guys, back to elementary school in fact. ARMORED SAINT was getting interest from all kinds of places, and we had a lot of people starting to turn up at shows."

He continued: "METALLICA came to see SAINT at a gig in Anaheim, at The Woodstock in 1982. I heard they were interested in asking me to join, which they did later. The thing was that METALLICA was this new kind of thing, and nobody back then. I don't care what they say now; nobody could have predicted what would happen. I didn't know the guys either, so there was no real interest. It was great to be asked — in fact, a lot of people asked — but ARMORED SAINT was really strong.

"Some time after 'Kill 'Em All' had come out, I heard the same thing again, but I never understood that because James was singing great then and he was doing a great job. I understood the lack of confidence back in '82 but not for 'Ride The Lightning'. James owns that record."

In a 1989 interview with Metal Forces, drummer Lars Ulrich talked about what METALLICA could have sounded like had Bush ended up fronting the group. He said: "Only a couple of days ago, we were actually sitting around talking about how it would be now if John Bush had joined the band. Obviously, it's impossible to know how different it would have been, but I can't imagine METALLICA without James Hetfield up there growling into the microphone, fucking curved over and everything. It's really weird to think about it. I mean, nothing against John Bush — I think he's a great vocalist — but ... Well, thank God it didn't happen."

Photo credit: Rob Shotwell

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