The four members of METALLICA were recently interviewed by the band's official fan magazine So What! about their forthcoming album, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct", due for release on the group's own Blackened Recordings on November 18. A few excerpts follow.
On the musical direction of "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct":
Robert Trujillo (bass): "To me, it's a very relentless album. It might not be a super-dynamic album, I mean like 'Death Magnetic', a lot of these songs, very dynamic. I don't necessarily feel this is supposed to be that. I think this is supposed to be where we are now and what we've been experiencing in a positive way. And there's gonna be plenty more journeys!"
Lars Ulrich (drums): "This record is still very fresh to me, but I must admit that the times I've heard it, there's something about the intensity and the 'continuous slap in the face.' It has this relentlessness. It just keeps going and going, kkkk, just keeps going!"
Robert Trujillo: "You got the old school energy, you've got a little bit of the 'Black Album' energy, you've got all this going on and you get on the floor and start hammering the ideas out, and it grows. I feel when you perform something on that floor, I'm not even saying live in front of a crowd, I'm just saying here at [METALLICA's headquarters in San Rafael, California], a lot of that is like performing, we're physically getting involved. And there is a groove that is very necessary. And I think this album, though it's heavy and it's in your face, there's a lot of groove in there and that makes me really happy."
On the songwriting process for "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct":
Kirk Hammett (guitar): "At the outset, I think the idea was to make an album that was similar in approach to [METALLICA's 1983 debut] 'Kill 'Em All', and that was an album that was pretty much driven by Lars and James [Hetfield, guitar/vocals], with a little help from [former guitarist] [Dave] Mustaine. So the concept was for those two to spearhead that whole creative process again in much the same way as 'Kill 'Em All' was done. And I'm totally fine with that."
James Hetfield (guitar, vocals): "I would say that we're out for the best songs, and wherever the material comes from is where it comes from. We're not trying to be 'exclusive,' it's 'Here's what's best for the band. These are the best riffs we have. These are the best parts and we're gonna put 'em together.' My pet peeve [was] always [that] the songs are too long. I want to play more songs live. I don't want the set to get longer. Let's make the songs shorter so we can play more songs."
Lars Ulrich: "The biggest difference between the bulk of the songwriting on this record and the bulk of the songwriting on the last record is that we were more on our own this time. [On 'Death Magnetic'], [producer] Rick [Rubin] would come every couple weeks and continue to challenge us to 'go crazier.' He used a word, the word 'ridiculous.' I remember he would often sit there and go, 'Make it more ridiculous.' That was the word. I'd never associated the word 'ridiculous' with music, and I remember him sitting right on that couch [points at studio couch – Ed.] going, 'Make it more ridiculous.' And then we'd go in and we'd fucking turn it upside down, put it on its head, all that stuff, and three and six and nine and then some of that stuff. And I would say on this record we almost did the opposite of that. We made it less ridiculous as we went along. We started tightening it a little bit, cutting extra parts out, shortening, making it slightly more linear and making it less 'ridiculous.' I can tell you that the analogy that I just came up with, with going more 'ridiculous' on 'Death Magnetic' and less ridiculous on 'Hardwired…To Self-Destruct', I've never said that to anybody before."
On his approach to guitar solos on "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct":
Kirk Hammett: "I thought it would be great if I didn't work on the guitar solos beforehand. It's a pretty bold and challenging thing because I like to be well prepared when it comes to anything that has to do with music and my guitar playing. Showing up well prepared was my M.O. This time around, I just said to myself [that] in the past, a lot of the stuff that ended up on those albums was what I first played, the very first thing. My subconscious has a feel for what is the most appropriate thing, [so] let the music flow, the creativity flow, the feelings flow, [and] have my subconscious dictate what needs to be done for the music. I put 100 percent of that concept into the approach of doing these solos."
On the fan reaction to the first couple of songs from "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct":
James Hetfield: "I truly don't give a fuck. I really don't. I've embraced the idiocy of the Internet, and the freedom you have to say whatever you want all the time. At some point, you get so desensitized to it that it makes no sense. Just do what you love. How can you go wrong? It always goes back to, 'Why are we doing this? Because we love doing it, and we want to write some music that we like to listen to.' Simple as that. If you like the music, then listen with us."
On the lyrical themes covered on "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct":
James Hetfield: "'Hardwired' is so simple, it is not Shakespeare, I know that. But gosh, are humans really doing the right thing? You know. And in the history of time, we're a little blip. And are we gonna be gone? Are we phasing ourselves out with electronics? Are we becoming this? Are we gonna self-destruct because of our egos and all of the stuff that makes humans human? That whole sentence 'hardwired to self-destruct' came from a friend of mine that was just throwing it out there as a struggling addict. Is that what it's like for us? Is our default just to die? Earlier than we're supposed to. Wreck. Destroy our lives; are we hardwired to self-destruct? And that just caught my ear. 'Moth Into Flame' is pretty literal. These days everyone [has] an obsession with being famous. Being popular. Whether it's your Facebook account or walking around the street, watching someone doing selfies of themselves as they're walking down the street. Like what? What are you doing?"
Read more excerpts from the interviews at Metallica.com.