METALLICA's JAMES HETFIELD: 'We Love What We Do, And We're Doing It Because We Love Doing It'

September 14, 2016

Earlier this week, Jaxon of the 93.3 WMMR radio station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania conducted an interview with METALLICA frontman James Hetfield. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On the long gap between 2008's "Death Magnetic" album and the upcoming "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct", which will be released on November 18:

Hetfield: "I don't think we've ever taken a break. I think we have a little bit of a break, but time's not a big factor for us in METALLICA. We kind of do it on 'TALLICA time, and, you know, our plate is full pretty much all the time with different things. So it's not like we were torturing ourselves and others waiting for this. Just things happen within the band, other stuff's happening, we're doing tours, one-offs, and just stuff happens. And yeah, we do have home lives as well, and that obviously takes priority, but that's not the reason for it taking so long. We just take our time with stuff."

On whether the new single, "Hardwired", is indicative of what the new album sounds like:

Hetfield: "That was, actually… 'Hardwired' was the last song to be written, so it kind of is a summation, or summary, of a lot of the feel, lyrically and idea-wise, around the album, but that is definitely one of the shorter songs on the record. We've been known to have long songs, and there's a few of those on this record as well. There's a diverse feel, and that's what we love doing; we like doing fast, slow, medium and all in between."

On whether "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" is now officially done:

Hetfield: "Well, okay, you can call us perfectionists, if you want, and I will too. But there's always something. You know, 'Ah, this is a little too long-winded. Let's cut this out. Let's make this a little more potent.' You know, dude, we're craftsmen, and we wanna make this as sharp and as potent as possible. So all the way up to the last minute — even running order. So there's always something we're thinking about and trying to make it the best and most potent possible. So it is, by all means, done as far as songs go. So it's just artwork and little things here and there we're still working on."

On METALLICA's upcoming tour in support of "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct":

Hetfield: "Well, there's no doubt we're gonna be touring on this thing. I have no idea where we're gonna go, where we're gonna release this thing into people's ears live. I would love to play everywhere and anywhere possible, but, you know, in this day and age for us, we, again, want it to be as sharp and as potent as possible. So there's gonna be selective touring — you know, making sure that we're as healthy and then being able to deliver the goods on all cylinders everywhere. So there will be less, but smarter and more potent touring."

On "Hardwired...To Self-Destruct" being a double record:

Hetfield: "Yeah, I told you, man — I told you the songs were… There's some long ones, and we've got twelve songs on there, so to make it sonically sound the best, that's what has to happen. We want it to sound great, so however it's gonna work, that's how it's gonna work."

On whether METALLICA still, to this day, gets accused by some fans of having "sold out":

Hetfield: "Yeah, you get different versions of it now online, with all the haters and the people that have some bone to pick and they just… you know, whatever. They've got a resentment from ten years ago, and they're bringing it up on this new album; they haven't even heard it. It's, like, 'All right. This is not a musical critique. This is someone's pissed off and needing to get it out.' So, you know, we don't give a crap. We love what we do, and we're doing it because we love doing it, and we're making music we wanna hear. We're artists, and it's as simple as that. And you can judge it all you want, but we're gonna do what we feel is right for us."

On how METALLICA's sound has evolved over the last 35 years:

Hetfield: "Well, I think we're here to evolve, and we do — we do evolve. But I'll tell you, I'm not one to judge anybody who's an artist and doing what they want. If you make the same album over and over and over, that's what you love doing, that's your safety box, that's awesome, and it's reliable. So there's always something good in whatever's coming out. We're explorers, man — we love to try different stuff and stretch the limits."

On whether there's still something left for METALLICA to accomplish or if it's all about enjoying the ride at this point:

Hetfield: "Well, there's a little bit of both, and for us, being explorers, we've got to have something that's… What's our next adventure? And I'll tell you, those adventures show up for us, whether it's management getting offers or whatever it may be, there's always an adventure that shows up for us, and we're up for it. We wanna do firsts, and there's quite a few firsts that didn't really pan out, and then there's some that almost killed us [laughs] — you know, certain movies and things — whatever… financially and things like that. But we're up for trying new stuff and making it fun and bringing smiles to the fans out there, and that makes me smile."

On whether METALLICA will ever retire or just "rock until they drop":

Hetfield: "I don't know. I'm not there yet… There's no rules. As an artist, when do you stop? Are you supposed to stop? If you stop, do you die? I mean, I look at Lemmy. That guy was up there kicking ass to the last moments, and that, to me, is respectable, but that is him. I mean, that is him. That's what he loved; that's how he lived. Why would you die sitting in a rocking chair somewhere else? He loved doing that, and that fits for him. I don't know what it is for us yet."

On no longer being signed to a major label and being to release METALLICA albums through the band's own record company, Blackened Recordings:

Hetfield: "Blackened Records is pretty major in my mind, I'll tell you. [Laughs] It's a major milestone for us to own your own record company, actually having… My kids, they can't fathom it. Like, 'What do you mean you own your own music? Why would you not?' I try to explain to them that's how things worked back then, and the fact that we have our own masters and are able to chart our own destiny with at least that. What cool packages can we put together? We now own our own record press for actual vinyl, which is super cool. So we're very excited. That's another cool chapter for METALLICA to get creative in."

Interview (audio):


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