METALLICA Bassist Talks State Of Metal, RANDY BLYTHE And Most Treasured Music-Related Item

Jina Min of Music Review conducted an interview with METALLICA bassist Robert Trujillo when the band returned to South Africa late last month for three shows — one in Johannesburg and two in Cape Town. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Music Review: Metal is far from what it was 30 years ago — hell, even 10 years ago! What is your take on metal today?

Trujillo: Well, it depends. There's a part of me that feels that there are bits and pieces missing from the ingredient. I think the purity of what metal was in the early '80s and '70s, and even in some sense the '90s, has been lost. Every band back then had an identity and I think today for me, I lose track of the identity. When you go back, you knew if you were listening to LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK SABBATH or UFO. In the '80s, you knew if you were listening to VAN HALEN or JUDAS PRIEST and METALLICA. In the '90s, you had ALICE IN CHAINS, SOUNDGARDEN and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES. There always has to be an identity. For me, I love the experimentation, I wave the flag for R&B and old-school soul music, but I also wave the flag for punk rock. I like it when people mess with the recipe and I'd like to hear more of that. Last night, we went and saw this band and the musicians were amazing and they sounded the best when they played the really traditional South African rhythms. I loved the more South African sounding songs; I really felt it as a musician. It moved Kirk [Hammett, METALLICA guitarist] and I while we were watching, it was really original.

Music Review: Has your perception changed on live shows and mosh pits since the unfortunate event that happened to [LAMB OF GOD singer] Randy Blythe?

Trujillo: Not a whole lot, because the specific thing that happened to him doesn't really happen often. However, it does happen to a lot of bands, it's happened to METALLICA; it happened to SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, it happened to SUICIDAL TENDENCIES opening for METALLICA. The situation with Randy was pretty critical, because when you get the government involved, there isn't a whole lot of control as a person over everything. You don't really know what direction it's going to take you in. You know, it could be one person, who wanted to make an example of him or whoever is in that situation; and that, to me, is just lame, and that is where it gets really tricky. As far as kids moshing, or showing that kind of energy, I think it's normal and it's been going on for so many years. There are shows that have preceeded us that were probably a lot crazier, for sure; I was there! [laughs] There were a lot of people getting hurt and no one was suing anybody back then; there wasn't any of that. I think in other parts of the world, authority gets involved and takes things way out of proportion.

Music Review: What is your most treasured music-related item or memorabilia?

Trujillo: That's an easy one. My hero is a bass player by the name of [the late] Jaco Pastorius. Jaco's bass was missing for 20 years, and it's a long story as to what had actually happened to it, supposedly stolen or sold for drugs; it was a mystery. The bass returned to the world around four years ago, and it was held up by a collector who managed to get hold of it. The family enquired about it and wanted to get the instrument back, because they felt it was theirs and it was nearly impossible because of legal issues and it turned into a war. I have been friends with the family for 17 years and I managed to help them to at least get the bass back into the immediate family. So we got the bass back; I'm the legal owner of the instrument, but we are really all in it together. I'm not a collector of instruments; and I don't like any of my bass guitars more than the other, but that instrument is loved not only by me but everyone else in the world. I'm glad I was able to get it back to our immediate circle. We're making a film, not about the bass, but about his life and that will come out in September. In fact, the film company producing it with me was the very same one that did "Searching For Sugarman", Passion Pictures.

Read the entire interview from Music Review.

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