In a new interview with BBC News, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich spoke about his band's decision to buy their own vinyl factory in Virginia.
As the sixth biggest-selling artist on vinyl in the U.S. last year, having sold 387,000 records from its back catalog, acquiring the majority interest in Furnace Record Pressing, a leading provider of high-quality vinyl records and related services, will enable Ulrich and his bandmates to meet demand.
In order to have enough vinyl ready for the release of their new album "72 Seasons", METALLICA had to submit the album six months in advance. All that time, they were faced with the possibility of the music leaking. By purchasing Furnace, which has pressed their discs for the last 15 years, they can reduce those lead times.
"It's a little daunting, but we're trying to figure out a way to integrate what we're doing with helping our brothers and sisters in other bands, and making sure the presses keep running towards maximum capacity," Ulrich told BBC News. "Hopefully that way, we can help get more independent music out to people."
METALLICA's Furnace acquisition formalized a long-standing relationship between the band and Furnace that has produced more than five million pieces of METALLICA vinyl since 2014.
Having worked together on such landmark projects as the highly acclaimed definitive deluxe box set editions of METALLICA's "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning", "Master Of Puppets", "…And Justice For All", "Metallica" (a.k.a. The Black Album) and "S&M2", METALLICA and Furnace have long enjoyed a prolific and productive relationship — one rooted in a shared fiercely independent ethos and passionate dedication to quality. This partnership between METALLICA and Furnace represents yet another example of the band's unflagging commitment to artistic control of all aspects of its career, as well as its devotion to its fans: The capacity to meet the massive demand for METALLICA vinyl via trusted partner and industry leader Furnace will enable the band and its Blackened Recordings label to better serve the needs of any and all vinyl lovers in the METALLICA family — as well as those of the various artists and record labels who will continue to utilize Furnace's services.
Founded by Eric Astor in 1996, Furnace is known for making extremely high-quality records at its 70,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility in Alexandria, Virginia. With its 12 Pheenix Alpha presses and two Finebilt presses, Furnace is one of the largest record pressing companies in the U.S. Furnace offers standard and heavyweight pressings, color vinyl, special effect color vinyl, and custom vinyl etching to meet the creative needs of any music artist. Furnace also oversees other services related to the creation and packaging of records. In addition to METALLICA, Furnace counts many major artists, global music companies, record labels and indie/punk acts as clients. Eric Astor (founder and CEO),Ali Miller (COO) and Mark Reiter (VP - operations) will continue in their respective roles leading Furnace. Each remains an equity owner of the company and each will be a member of the company's Board Of Directors.
In a 2018 interview with Classic Rock, Ulrich opened up about why vinyl mattered so much to him. "I still have all of my old records," he said. "I still occasionally take them out. I would be lying to you if I said there was no nostalgic undertone to the whole thing. It’s just nice to be able to sit down and listen to music for no other reason than to sit down and listen to music."
In a 2017 interview with Red Bull, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield also talked about his appreciation for vinyl. "We grew up with and love vinyl," he said. "It's an experience, an event. It's tangible: you hold the record, take it from the sleeve; place the needle in the groove.
"About six months ago, I was in L.A., visiting some old high-school buddies and we just sat around listening to vinyl… stuff like KANSAS," he continued. "Just the act of flicking through the boxes, smelling the cardboard, reading the sleeve notes, and listening to that warm sound — it's very immersive."
In 2020, METALLICA introduced its own Vinyl Club. The subscription-based service provided fans with vinyl versions of rare cuts, demos and rough mixes, live rarities and other cool stuff. And none of it had been offered on vinyl before.
"As huge music fans, the band has been super excited to experience the resurgence of vinyl and the enjoyment of collecting, exploring and connecting with other fans mining for lost treasures," the band said in a press release. "Those who love the look, feel and sonic warmth of vinyl are already in an exclusive club of sorts."