Interview with James Hetfield at TheAge.com.au

Australia’s TheAge.com.au conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield prior to the band’s September 18, 2010 concert at the Acer Arena in Sydney. You can now watch the chat at this location.

On how the band has changed over the years:

Hetfield: “I would we’ve matured some. I think the main thing is we’ve realized what’s really important and what’s not worth even battling over, and a lot of that has to do with internal band dynamics. Now that we’ve all got kids, we kind of realized how childish we are at times. [Laughs] Things are a lot better. I didn’t think things could get better than our 20s, and then the 30s and 40s — we’re in our 40s now. It’s quite awesome.”

On whether he feels METALLICA is still at the top of its game:

Hetfield: “I think we’ll always think that. [Laughs] What other people tell us might be different, you know?! But I do feel that mentally, and I’d say physically, we’re in better shape than we were years ago. Mentally, for sure — we’re getting along really, really well. Physically, you know — we’ve been road-doggin’ it for 30-something years, and we’ve all got our, ‘Oh, my shoulder tonight,’ or ‘Oh, my throat’ or ‘My back.’ There’s always something.”

On doing this for 30 years without a real break:

Hetfield: “Well, there have been times where we said, ‘We’ve gotta take some time off.’ After the ‘black’ album tour in the early ’90s, we were on the road for almost three years for that album, and we had to take some serious time off from that. But, you know, I understand a lot of the METALLICA fans out there are just, ‘OK, now that the tour is over, great. Now we’re not gonna hear any music for another for another five years,’ or ‘They won’t be back out here for eight years.’ It’s a long cycle for us and we’re trying to get quicker with that, but we go at the pace we need to go at.”

On when he thinks the band wasn’t in such a good state:

Hetfield: “Oh, my God. We all kind of had our… Each individual bandmember had their, kind of, slippery times at different times — whether it was the drugging or the sexing or the drinking… The ‘black’ album was kind of the time when things got a little easier and, ‘Wow, we’re just touring everywhere.’ It was, like, everything just lined up, especially in the United States, where it was just… we could do no wrong. And we got a little complacent and kind of uncaring of that responsibility. It wasn’t horrible things that happened like you read about in other people’s tell-all books, but we all had our personal messes that we went through.”

On going to rehab in 2001 and how it changed him:

Hetfield: “Oh, man… Rehab was… It really was like the college that I never went to. Or, actually, the parents that were a little more teaching… or explained things a lot better about life. What happened in there was getting stripped down to the bone and then being kind of rebuilt in a different way — in more of an adult form. You never know what people don’t know about life and what everyone thinks they know — things your parents teach you or whoever, things that you picked up along the way. Some people pick up some pretty unsafe survival skills. And it was not the country club that you see now on some of the TV. Rehab, the word, is just thrown around like it’s nothing. ‘Hey, it’s the place to be now.’ And that’s really sad, because that’s supposed to be a place where you are able to be yourself and just say, ‘Help’ — surrender completely — and it doesn’t seem like that anymore. It’s kind of sad.”

On the documentary “Some Kind Of Monster” and whether it was a turning point for the band as much as it was for the fans in the way that they knew METALLICA:

Hetfield: “Well, that was a time… I mean, that was a rebirth for me. That was an unbelievable, a very cathartic experience in life. If I didn’t go through that, all the other stuff wouldn’t have happened, really, I believe. But as an artist, we thought it was totally worth taking that gamble or chance or whatever and being… You can’t go wrong with honesty — you can’t. And it’s actually helped us quite a lot on the road, having fans relate to us a lot deeper, to another level. At the [pre-show] meet-and-greets, it’s unbelievable what the fans will say now instead of just the quick, ‘Hey, great, thanks. Hey, cool shirt.’ OK, next. There’s stuff like, ‘You saved my life,’ there’s, ‘My father died and I didn’t know what to do and I heard your music.’ There’s a whole another level that it goes to.”

On what his reaction would have been 30 years ago if somebody told him that 30 years later he would be playing a sold-out Acer Arena in Sydney, Australia:

Hetfield: “I would have said, ‘You bet. You bet I am.’ That was it. I was gonna do it. There was no holding back. There was no… There was another option, but it had to be music — it was, like, that was it; that’s what I’m gonna do. I recall very clearly my brother saying, ‘Oh, so you’re gonna be a rock star and be on stage, huh?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I guess I didn’t know what sarcasm was back then. I was like, ‘Yeah, I am.’ And that was kind of it.”

On what his favorite METALLICA album is:

Hetfield: “It’s tough, because they each have a place in my heart and they all remind me either of what I was going through or what I wanted to have happen in my life. I like ‘Ride The Lightning’ a lot. That was the first album we really had to write for and we had a little more experience. I love the ‘black’ album — I liked the whole process of that. And this last one, ‘Death Magnetic’, really, really surprised me with what we did and the people’s reaction to it.”

On what surprised him about “Death Magnetic”:

Hetfield: “Well, the fact that people embraced it, people liked it. It’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ It still blows me away. I’m up there playing a song that’s nasty, and yelling at people, and there’s an 18-year-old girl going, ‘Yeah!’ What? [Laughs] Where’s your parents? What’s going on here? Or you’ve got some 50-year-old guy out there just headbanging like crazy. I guess he really does like this. We’re not just up here still pretending that we’re good. There’s people that actually like the music and it still blows me away.”

http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=146335

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