In a new Classic Rock interview celebrating the 40th anniversary of DIAMOND HEAD's "Lightning To The Nations" album, Lars Ulrich was asked about the progress of the songwriting sessions for METALLICA's follow-up to 2016's "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct" LP. He responded: "[It's been] glacial. These are the craziest of times and nothing is letting up. There's a little bit of movement [in that direction], but it's hard to do a lot when we're not together."
This past November, Ulrich said in an interview with Rolling Stone that METALLICA was nearly a month into "some pretty serious writing" sessions for its next studio album. A couple of weeks earlier, Lars told Kara Swisher at the CNBC Evolve Summit that he and his METALLICA bandmates have been working on new music for "the last six [to] eight weeks virtually." But he admitted that they have encountered a myriad of technical issues which have slowed their progress.
"Being a rock and roll band and working virtually is not super easy," Lars said. "Time delays, all these things make it really hard. The main thing we miss is being able to hear each other. [Laughs] So if we're all four in a room together, we can connect with each other and we can hear each other. If I'm playing here in San Francisco, and Kirk [Hammett] and James [Hetfield], our two guitar players, are either in O'ahu or Colorado, there are significant time delays. It's very hard for us to play at the same time. If I'm doing what we call steering, which means that I'm playing a beat and they're playing to me, I can't hear what they're playing, and vice versa. We can't all hear each other in a universal fashion. So there are some significant complications we have. Our recording team and our production team are speaking to software makers all over the world [about] how to crack the code on this. Nobody has quite figured it out yet."
Last May, the four members of METALLICA overcame social distancing to record a new version of their song "Blackened", with each member separated in his own home. The split-screen video was posted to the band's social media channels. That same month, Ulrich told Swedish talk show host Fredrik Skavlan that he and his bandmates were "sending ideas to each other via e-mail and via Zoom and [trying to] make music in these unusual situations."
In August, METALLICA broadcast a show to hundreds of drive-in and outdoor theaters across the U.S. and Canada, as part of the "Encore Drive-In Nights" series. The concert was filmed nearly three weeks earlier, on August 10, at the Gundlach Bundschu winery, about a 30-minute car ride from the band's headquarters in San Rafael, California, and was subsequently edited and mixed by the band's award-winning production team to the highest standards possible.
METALLICA's "Live & Acoustic From HQ: Helping Hands Concert & Auction" was streamed live from the band's headquarters in November. The special acoustic show benefited METALLICA's All Within My Hands foundation.