Metallica‘s frontman James Hetfield opens up about the need for the band’s new approaches in an interview with Metallica’s official fanzine.
Heavy metal legends Metallica have been writing and releasing timeless songs for more than 30 years. Metallica became creative in recent years, with frontman James Hetfield adopting a new method of songwriting. Here is Metallica’s creative era and how the band is now embracing a collaborative songwriting process.
For many years, James Hetfield has been the main inspiration for Metallica’s songwriting. But he recently admitted in an interview that he no longer wants to be the band’s lone composer. Instead, he prefers that every member of the band participate in composition and be fully committed to the final product.
Metallica has produced some of its most thrilling and dynamic songs as a result of this collaborative approach. Hetfield has been also closely collaborating with drummer Lars Ulrich to create fresh concepts and musical themes, but now he is integrating the entire band.
Metallica‘s new creative phase has given the group the freedom to experiment with new musical trajectories and genres. To make new and fascinating music, they are experimenting with new sounds and methods rather than sticking to their tried-and-true recipe.
This can be seen, for instance, in their most recent album, “M72.” With songs ranging from ballads to powerful metal choruses. Metallica‘s new era of creativity and willingness to experiment are on full presentation in this album.
During an interview with Metallica’s official fanzine So What!, James Hetfield reveals thoughts:
Question 1: And true to form of being increasingly candid as he’s got older (and wiser), he comes clean about the creative approach in the band that’s in sharp contrast to the one recently portrayed by former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted during his tenure?
James Hetfield: “We opened up. I was much more ready to open my heart to everyone in the band: lyrically, emotionally, and creatively. I was really an advocate, going out of my way to say, ‘Send in your riffs. We need stuff, c’mon,’ you know?
I don’t want to sit there with Lars [Ulrich] and create the songs anymore. I want everyone to be a part of it and be in it. Can we all show up? Can we all be in the studio together? Can we jam on these things together? Can you speak up and say what you think might be great and not so great? Really wanting to open it up, and there were challenges in that. But I think we got through most of ’em, you know?”
Question 2: But how did Lars take this new approach of “four chiefs instead of just two”?
James Hetfield: “Well, I think we all have fear of change. We all have fear of change or, ‘Wait, this is working, let’s just keep going with it,’ you know? But as an artist, as someone who’s creative, I like those challenges. I don’t like them out in regular life very much; I don’t like changes and challenges. But in the studio, I feel comfortable with it, and I think Lars eventually understood why and where I was trying to go with it. And even if there wasn’t input from others, just having that white space for input was great.
You know, there would be times when all four would be in the studio, and Lars would be looking at me, ‘What do you feel the next part is?’ And I would just be quiet. Just say, ‘What do you guys think? What are you guys feeling?’ It felt really free to kind of just sit back and let the process happen more. And yeah, it did take longer, and we might’ve gone through ten ideas that didn’t work to get to one that did, but if you’re not out there mining for gold, you’re not gonna find any. So there were nuggets that came out of it that were just amazing.”
He also added what he thinks the tones behind of M72 album:
“I’m always, always searching for a better tone, always searching for a better guitar sound. And I end up with stuff I’ve used before because it just sounds the best, and that’s okay. It’s helping me speak. There is the Copperhead guitar, Copper Top, whatever you want to call it, but it’s the copper one that’s a snakebyte that has been painted horrendously thick and shouldn’t sound good at all. The pickups have been painted! It’s got the tone. It sounds great as a main guitar, so that one always gets put down first. I used it a bunch on Hardwired. The So What! guitar got some play, the EET F*** guitar showed up a lot as a second guitar.”
You can watch the interview below!