METALLICA's Longtime Producer GREG FIDELMAN Opens Up About Band's Creative Process

March 20, 2024

Producer Greg Fidelman, who has been firmly entrenched in the METALLICA camp since 2008, when he joined Rick Rubin's "Death Magnetic" production team, was interviewed for the latest episode of "The Metallica Report", the podcast offering weekly insider updates on all things METALLICA. You can now watch the discussion below.

When it comes to METALLICA's creative process, Fidelman has become the "unofficially official" fifth member of the band. He began his music career in the late 1980s as the lead guitarist of his own group, but Greg really hit his stride on the other side of the studio glass about a decade later. From engineer to mixer to producer, this Grammy winner has worked with some major heavyweights, including Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Adele, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS and SLAYER.

In a 2017 interview with HardDrive Radio, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich called Fidelman "the great unsung hero" who "has been our… basically, our sound guy, our engineer, our go-to guy for everything since 'Death Magnetic', and he's been… I think he's finally tweaked our sound and figured out exactly what our M.O. is and how we function the best, both in terms of the studio and in terms of how we should sound and how he gets not only the performance but the sounds and the sonics and all that."

Regarding how he met METALLICA, Greg told Soundworks Collection in a 2017 interview: "[I met] METALLICA on the 'Death Magnetic' project. I'd been engineering a lot of records for Rick [Rubin] at that time, [around] 2008. And this was on the heels of the first SLIPKNOT record that I worked on with Rick, which was… When was that? In 2003 or 2004, I guess — the 'Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses' record. I think the [METALLICA] guys were fans of that record, so when they wanted to work with Rick, I think they were also hip on working with me and Rick. So that's how I sort of got invited in. And it all was a bit of a whirlwind. I mean, Rick had already been doing pre-pro with them. I kind of came in at the very tail of pre-production. I met them [in their headquarters in San Rafael, California]. I came up for two days, for two quick rehearsals, then I went back to L.A. and two weeks later, they showed up in L.A. and we started tracking. So there was no dating period. [Laughs] We just kind of went for it."

On the topic of how his relationship with METALLICA evolved over the years, Greg said: "We got along, I would say, pretty much from the onset. But with established bands that have been around for a long time like that, I don't think you get put into the fold super fast. But that record took a while, and I slowly but surely got the trust of the guys. We had a lot of fun. Rick is a producer that likes to not be there for every note of every song, so there was a lot of time where it was me and them, and I think there's where we sort of developed [our relationship]. I guess it's not surprising, but I wouldn't have known before then… I mean, they're maybe a couple of years older than me — not much. We have very similar… sort of similar backgrounds. Certainly similar… The music that got them excited… I mean, Lars had some European experiences that are unique, but me and James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman], and me and Kirk [Hammett, METALLICA guitarist] especially, just stuff that I listened to when I was in high school is the exact same stuff… So when they've got these weird, sometimes rare references, like, 'Oh, yeah. I remember that record. That was awesome,' we could sort of bond that way too. And then from being a guitar player in a band — obviously not a band the level of METALLICA — but just being in a van, going across the country a bunch of times and doing that also made it a little more comfortable for us to hang out and trust each other."

METALLICA's latest album, "72 Seasons", came out in April 2023. The LP sold 146,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. in its first week of release to land at position No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. It marked METALLICA's 12th Top 10-charting album, of which eight have reached the top two.

"72 Seasons" had the biggest week for any rock or hard rock album since TOOL's "Fear Inoculum" arrived in September 2019 with 270,000 equivalent album units.

"72 Seasons" was released via METALLICA's own Blackened Recordings. Produced by Fidelman with Hetfield and Ulrich, it is METALLICA's first full-length collection of new material since "Hardwired…To Self-Destruct".

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