In a brand new interview with Newsweek, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield spoke about the band's tributes to Ronnie James Dio and MOTÖRHEAD's Lemmy Kilmister on the deluxe edition of METALLICA's new album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", with the songs "Ronnie Rising Medley" and "Murder One", respectively.
"We all have our mentors, and we need them, or at least I do," Hetfield explained. "I need someone who I'm lookin' up to, to either try and chase or learn from. We were asked by Dio's wife, Wendy, to contribute to [2014's 'Ronnie James Dio - This Is Your Life' tribute album]. And that was kind of a no-brainer. We're no strangers to doing covers. So the 'Ronnie Rising Medley' was kind of a combination of all the good stuff we loved from Dio. It's great to challenge myself with singing stuff like that. It helps me grow. And it also helps me push limits that I think I'm stuck in."
He continued: "Lemmy in particular was an icon, sort of a godfather for people who love heavy metal. He was the captain of the ship. And we all felt he was immortal [laughs], doing the hard, hard, hard livin' for such a long time on the road, and just really goin' for it. [Laughs] We knew it would come to an end at some point. But we really didn't expect it. There's certainly no METALLICA without a MOTÖRHEAD."
Hetfield added: "We would get to jam with Lemmy. He was a very friendly guy. We covered quite a few of their songs. You know, MOTÖRHEAD never made it into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, which is a shame. But he did win a Grammy for a song called 'Whiplash' that we had recorded on 'Kill 'Em All'. We were trying to write a MOTÖRHEAD song. He covered our song [for MOTÖRHEAD's 2006 album, 'Kiss Of Death'] that was kind inspired by him, and he wins a Grammy for it. That is very cool."
During a September 2016 Town Hall event at SiriusXM's New York studios, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich stated about the inspiration for "Murder One": "In the summer of 1981, I followed MOTÖRHEAD around on tour. That was what made me want to be in a band. When I came back to Southern California and called up James and said, 'Listen, we've got to give this a shot,' ... MOTÖRHEAD is the catalyst."
Shortly after Lemmy's passing, Ulrich penned a lengthy tribute to the MOTÖRHEAD mainman in which looked back on the influence Lemmy had not just on METALLICA but also on him personally.
"I was down at [Lemmy's] 70th party [on December 13, 2015 at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood], and I got a chance to sit with him for about ten minutes, just him and me. I told him that his obligation to the rock and roll community was to live forever because his birthday party was like a hard-rock class reunion," he wrote in part. "Everybody was there because Lemmy's one of the few people we can all agree on who is just the coolest guy ever. We would all show up. I told him it was his obligation to live forever, because he was the reason we could all get together and celebrate hard rock and celebrate MOTÖRHEAD and see familiar faces because we're all so scattered now. Obviously I could tell that he was in deteriorating health but we had a close bond, one that didn't necessarily need to be reaffirmed or articulated. The less we said the more we knew the connection was there."
Lars added: "Whenever METALLICA played L.A., [Lemmy] would always come and watch us, and whenever MOTÖRHEAD was up here, we'd always go and see them play. We probably crossed paths 50 to 100 times in the last 20 years, and he came and played with us onstage multiple times. It was a bond that deep and it goes back to the crazy summer of 1981.
"I will always appreciate and forever cherish all the great times we had together, but especially those early days. We were so vulnerable, so moldable because a significant part of who we've become, both in the band and as people, is directly due to not just him but all the rest of the people who were inspired and drank from the same bottles and shared the same stories and same space. His spirit will always live in us."
"Hardwired... To Self-Destruct" came out in November. The effort consists of two discs, containing a dozen songs and nearly 80 minutes of music.