METALLICA Won't Play More Than Fifty Shows In A Single Year

January 8, 2017

METALLICA frontman James Hetfield and guitarist Kirk Hammett were recently interviewed by Chris Hardwick of the "Nerdist" podcast (web site). You can now listen to the chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On METALLICA's touring schedule for 2017:

James: "We've got stuff penciled in for the whole year. My body has told me to tell these guys that fifty shows a year is kind of what we can do, so make the best of those. And I think we all kind of agree in that. But fifty shows a year, that's pretty good. My body can handle that. Body, mind and spirit all need to kind of revitalize themselves at home, and days off for voices — things like that — so fifty shows a year, it goes pretty quick, I'm sure. I tell people, 'We're only doing fifty a year,' and they're saying, 'Oh my God! That's a lot.' And it's, like, it's not. It's not, really, compared to what we used to do."

Kirk: "Yeah, I mean, we would tour for ten out of twelve months in the past. We had crazy tours where we would tour, like, twelve, fifteen, sixteen weeks in a row, doing five shows a week…"

James: "And we came home, and we were divorced, girlfriends were gone, and we were addicted to a few substances, and we were fighting."

Kirk: "It's all a learning experience. We learned so much through all that."

On the importance of consistent touring when building a band:

Kirk: "In the beginning, yeah. For the first ten, fifteen years of the band, we pretty much lived by that process."

James: "We would go and play where no one else would play. We're the working man's band. We'd go to the C, D and E markets, you know, and people would be so appreciative. Like, 'Oh my God! No one ever plays [some city in] Arkansas, but METALLICA did.' And that says a lot. Even on promo tours — going, showing up… it shows your integrity, and it shows that… And nothing — well, I say that now, but who knows? There's probably new goggles that show up — but nothing is better than going to see a live show. You can listen to it, you can podcast it, you do all that stuff, but actually being there, your senses get slammed. And it's not just the music, it's not just the band — it's the atmosphere, it's the people next to you, it's that guy throwing up on your shoes."

Kirk: "It's the complete experience. It's everything. It's driving to the show, driving back. It's like you said, after you saw the 'Star Wars' movie the other night, after the movie, there was a feeling of excitement when it ended. Same thing with rock shows. When the band comes off, there's that moment of, 'It ended. Wasn't that the best thing?' Or, 'Wasn't that the greatest thing you've ever seen?' or, 'Wow! They played this,' and, 'They played that.' I mean, it's all part of the experience, and you just don't get that when you're clicking a button or staring at a screen."

On people filming concerts on their phones instead of enjoying the experience:

James: "At the gigs, it is somewhat frustrating when you look out and everyone's got the screen, and it's all the same. It's kind of robotic-army looking. Everyone's looking through their screen at you. It's really bad when someone's got their iPad. 'Wait a minute! I can't even see!' But what are you gonna do? We can't enforce anything, and, 'Don't bring your this and that.' You're coming to a concert and you're gonna celebrate it however you want. If you wanna remember you in that moment, that's great. You singing better than me into your phone [laughs] and playing it later for someone that doesn't give a shit, maybe; or there's five hundred YouTube things from the same angle, we've got no control over that. You enjoy it how you wanna enjoy it. I just wonder if later on you'd be thinking, 'Damn! Yeah, I have it memorized on here, but I didn't feel it — I didn't feel it completely.' So, it's up to them."

On whether METALLICA changes up its setlist regularly:

Kirk: "We change it up every show, we change the setlist up every show, to make it interesting for us as well as the audience."

James: "I'll tell you, we have a lot of songs now. It's a great gold-plated problem to have. What songs are you gonna play? What songs work best here or there? Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] has his own method of [choosing which songs to play]. 'Last time we played 'Hit The Lights' here was in 1997 on the blah blah tour.' 'Oh, okay.' Do you think anyone remembers that but you and your computer? But he's very into that. He doesn't want to rehash and rehash. So we've got a lot of good songs on this record too. We'll be trying all those out live. And hopefully we get doubles or multiples in cities, and that's even easier to come up with a different setlist, you know, if people are seeing multiple shows. And people do travel. Our fans are crazy enough to stalk us around the country, or even to different continents, which is unbelievable."

Kirk: "You know, we're still kind of discovering new combinations too — what combinations of songs work amazingly well. And it's interesting that we're still discovering new stuff with our setlist too. We played a show in London, and we played… the first three songs were a combination that we never did before, and when we played them, after the show, we thought, 'Wow, that was really effective and really cool.' 'Cause we had never played those three songs in that way at the top of the set."

METALLICA's latest album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 album chart, selling 291,000 copies in its first week of release.

Interview (audio):

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