Jamie Thomson of Guardian.co.uk recently conducted interviews with members of the "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, SLAYER, MEGADETH and ANTHRAX — about thrash's undying popularity and the recent Sonisphere festival shows featuring all four acts. A few excerpts follow below.
On thrash metal's enduring appeal:
Kirk Hammett (METALLICA): "It speaks to the core essence of the human psyche, bro. It's true. There's a beat and an energy that speaks to you no matter what cultural background, what age, what demographic. If you hear it and you make a connection, you're done man, you're in for life."
On the large crowd attandances for the Sonisphere festival shows featuring the "Big Four":
Kerry King (SLAYER): "METALLICA draws people out of the caves; everyone comes to see them. The rest of us are just icing on an already killer cake."
On the early days of thrash:
Scott Ian (ANTHRAX): "We were the underdogs, and we looked at the bigger bands and thought, 'We're true metal. Not you.' It's so fucking stupid when I think about now, but I totally get the mindset that we were in."
"Kids might grow up listening to BON JOVI or whatever, but then they get to 15 and they just don't want that any more — so they start listening to ANTHRAX and METALLICA. And that was our mission, to stop kids from going to the dark side!"
On thrash metal's enduring popularity:
Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH): "There's probably people still putting out glam metal and somewhere there's a bunch of girls with fake tits buying that shit, but for people who really like heavy metal, thrash is thinking man's music. They try and stigmatize metal people and make them look stupid. When I went to the White House in the '90s [as part of the Rock the Vote campaign], a lot of people thought, 'Well he's not going to be very smart,' and to the contrary, I was very articulate."
On how the arrival of grunge in the early' 90s affected the thrash metal scene:
Scott Ian (ANTHRAX): "When 'alternative rock' came out in the 90s, we were like, 'They're all over MTV, how the hell are they alternative? We're the alternative!'"
On why METALLICA's much-maligned 2003 album, "St Anger", had to be made:
Kirk Hammett (METALLICA): "It kept us from falling apart — we had something to focus on, and it kept us together as a unit. We've always taken chances and a lot of the time we've ended up on the wrong side of the tracks. But we never made a rap metal record, thank God."
On how METALLICA's "Death Magnetic" and SLAYER's "Christ Illusion" became the two bands' most commercially and critically successful records in more than a decade:
Kerry King (SLAYER): "In 1985 to 90, everybody was just slamming great records out. And here we are doing it again."
On the "Big Four" sharing the stage for the first time:
Scott Ian (ANTHRAX): "If you look back over the last 40 years you couldn't find another four bands that could do this. We're all here and we can do it — it's awesome."
On making peace with his past and finally burying the hatchet with METALLICA:
Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH): "Backstage, James [Hetfield, METALLICA's frontman] and I were talking, and hugging each other, and apologizing for the things we've done to each other in the past. And Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] and I were talking about going out for dinner. Who would have thought that would ever happen? But here we are, kicking ass and taking down names in the name of heavy metal."
Read more from Guardian.co.uk.
June 15, 2010 (dinner in Warsaw):
June 16, 2010 (pre-show photo call in Warsaw):
Photos below by Andrew Stuart/Future Grandpa