KIRK HAMMETT On METALLICA's First Visit To China: 'People Were Crying In The Audience Because They Were So Happy'

January 6, 2017

In a brand new interview with That's Shanghai, METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett was asked what took the band so long to play in mainland China. He responded: "Well, we've always had intentions on playing in China and, you know, we had to be invited to play China, we just couldn't go there and demand to play. But now that we've had that invitation and broken that ice, China's gonna be a pretty regular stop for us."

Pressed about what stands out most in his memory from METALLICA's August 2013 visit to Shanghai — either from the show or from the city — and what he is most looking forward to about returning, Hammett said: "You know, the pure enthusiasm that we saw everywhere — and that was like you know, before, during and after the show — it was like just a very, very cool thing to see how much the Chinese audiences appreciated the fact that we were there. I mean, it was very evident that they were appreciative as well, I mean there are people who were crying in the audience because they were so happy. At least, I think that's why they were crying. I think they were tears of joy."

METALLICA will return to China later this month, stopping off in Shanghai (January 15 at Mercedes-Benz Arena),Beijing (January 18 at LeSports Center) and Hong Kong (January 20 at Asia World Expo Arena).

METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich told the "Jonesy's Jukebox" last month that the Internet has radically improved access to music for China's young people, making it easier for bands like METALLICA to perform in the country. "I don't know if they have the records, but certainly the YouTubes or whatever, streaming… They certainly have access to the music in one way or another," he explained. "I don't believe there's a big record-company infrastructure in that part of the world, but they certainly knew the songs — the songs that we could play. You have to submit your songs for approval, and then you get handed a list of the songs you can play. So we played the songs that we were allowed to play. It was all fine. There was no reason to rock the system. But they certainly knew the music and they were appreciative. I think they were standing on their seats for a while."

METALLICA's first Shanghai show back in 2013 — attended by fans from all over China, including Chinese contemporary artist and activist Ai Weiwei — sold out in minutes and prompted promoters AEG Live to add a second date at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

At the time, Ulrich spoke of the band's desire to "get to more [Chinese fans] and maybe there could be a next level relationship between METALLICA and China that could last for decades."

Vetting by the Chinese authorities for foreign bands and artists isn't uncommon and has resulted in many big names being refused entry to the country to perform.

The members of METALLICA revealed in 2013 that they were asked to send the lyrics to their entire discography to the Chinese government for approval before they were given permission to play in the country. "We had to give them a whole set of songs and they went through all the lyrics and okayed which ones we could play, which ones we couldn't play," METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett said. "They see a lyric like 'Master Of Puppets' being so subversive that they're not allowing us to play it. It's kind of scary." Added METALLICA frontman James Hetfield: "And that just brings more attention to it, of course. That doesn't work."

The Chinese ministry of culture monitors music for vulgarity, as well as political content. In 2009, it reportedly ordered a cleanup of online music sites to address "poor taste and vulgar content."


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