In a new interview with Cesar Gueikian, brand president of Gibson Brands, Kirk Hammett spoke about how METALLICA has spent its coronavirus downtime and its plans for the coming months. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Because of the unusual situation of the last couple of years, we were able to continue to communicate and be a band. We were able to get together on a somewhat regular basis, create a bubble that we could work in, get tested regularly every two or three days, and go in and function as a band. And in the last year or so, we've been doing that pretty consistently. And it's difficult and it's demanding to have to work under those situations, because when you're in a bubble, you can't really see anyone else. And when we're in the band bubble, it's just the band and 12 people allowed in the building at any given time. So it was a little weird, a little difficult, but we were able to really put all the events and all the feelings and emotions and experiences of the last year and a half into our music. And we're jamming, we're coming up with stuff, and we're really enjoying each other's company. And at this point in time, it's looking like it's gonna be more possible to play live shows, so we're getting to that. We're all very, very excited because we're craving that — we have a real hunger for that. And we're well aware of the fact that we're probably not the only ones in the world who really are craving something like that too. I know that I miss seeing bands live, and I miss playing live. And it's probably the sentiment of a lot of music lovers out there as well."
Last summer, Hammett told Metal Hammer magazine that there was "a lot of material" written for a possible follow-up to 2016's "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" album, which marked METALLICA's first full-length collection of new music in eight years. "I know I have tons, because I totally overcompensated," he said. "You know, last time around, it was a real shock to my system losing all those musical ideas. [Editor's note: Kirk lost a phone with more than 300 pieces of music on it during the creative process for 'Hardwired…'] So, I was very determined to try and make up for lost time. I also felt that, creatively, I have so much more to offer this time around."
Bassist Robert Trujillo added that the songwriting process for the next album could be a decidedly more collective effort compared to "Hardwired…", which was largely composed by guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich.
"I'm not gonna speak on behalf of the other guys, but to me, it feels like this could be a very collaborative [writing process]," Robert said. "And for me personally, I love that. I love that we are in that head space to be more collaborative, and I think that's very exciting for where we're at now, the journey we're about to take, the fact that those doors are opening like that."
"It's taking a couple of months, literally, for me to go through all [my ideas]," added Kirk, who is is not credited on any of the songs on "Hardwired…To Self-Destruct". "I've got a wealth of material, and so, at any given point when we all decide, 'Okay, let's start formulating a schedule to start writing songs and recording it.' I'm ready. I'm there, from day one."
"Kirk has so many ideas," continued Trujillo. "It's funny because sometimes it's literally him in the kitchen and he's cooking, and at the same time he's playing you a riff, or you're sitting on the toilet and he's playing you some ideas. But when we started to understand that [the lockdown] was gonna happen, it was like, 'Hey, let's be creative', you know? Let's just get on it. A lot of times, when there's a band that's been around as long as METALLICA has, you find that one of the biggest problems is, 'Man I can't come up with a riff, I can't come up with any good lyrics, it's just harder to write songs', but that just doesn't seem to be the problem with us. Not taking anything away from any other bands, but sometimes our worst riff might be another band's A-list riff."
"Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 album chart, selling 291,000 copies in its first week of release.