playboy april 2001
interview
Metallica


PLAYBOY: Before, you had been one of the more popular heavy metal bands. But with the Black Album, you became mainstream.
NEWSTED: Once we hit MTV, better-looking girls started coming to the shows. Just overnight.
HAMMETT: It sounds like a cliche, but girls like melody, they like soft, pretty songs. And if that's what it took to bring them into our little trap, more power to it.
PLAYBOY: Do you think-
HETFIELD: No. I like to not think.
PLAYBOY: Only a few albums have sold more than 10 million copies. Do you think the Black Album is the band's best record?
HETFIELD: There are some songs on there I don't like. Through The Never was a little wacky. Don't Tread on Me, probably not one of my favorite songs musically. Holier Than Thou was one of the sillier songs, more the old style of writing.
PLAYBOY: When Load came out next, you guys had short hair and were wearing makeup and trendy clothes. It was quite a change from the denim and mullets.
HAMMETT: It was just a phase. It was the zeitgeist of the moment. Who knows? We might do something even more complex in the future.
PLAYBOY: Like Hetfield in a dress?
HAMMETT: I think that would be extreme [laughs].
HETFIELD: I let Lars and Kirk take over a little on the image front. I really don't like looking at it now. Our fans go, "What happened to Metallica, the rebel, longhair, greasy biker, fuck-you band?" Now it was U2 or Stone Temple Pilots, or some band relying on an image. What the fuck did we need that for? That was just stupid. Jason and I were really not into it - Kirk and Lars were gung ho. You either laugh about it or you get wound up. I'm doing both, actually.
PLAYBOY: You guys were kind of handsome without the mullets.
HETFIELD: Come on! Mullets rule. Dude, I wanted to have long hair and short hair at the same time.
HAMMETT: I never had a mullet, OK?
NEWSTED: I'm not going to fess to the mullet for more than like three months in 1987.
ULRICH: It was probably only James who had a mullet.
PLAYBOY: Well, it sure looks like a mullett you're wearing on the inner sleeve of Garage INC., Lars. What if James grew back his mullet?
HAMMETT: If he does, I'm going to dye my hair pink. "You can have a funny haircut? So can I!"
PLAYBOY: James, you're progun and proenvironment. Did you vote for Al Gore?
HETFIELD: No. I'm afraid of someone taking my guns away.
PLAYBOY: Then did you vote for Bush?
HETFIELD: No. You have to go into the city to vote. So I'm not going to vote.
PLAYBOY: You describe drinking and performing as therapeutic. Have you ever been in real therapy?
HETFIELD: [Nods] Around the time of Load, I felt I wanted to stop drinking. "Maybe I'm missing out on something. Everyone else seems so happy all the time. I want to get happy." I'd plan my life around a hangover: "The Misfits are playing in town Friday night, so Saturday is hangover day." I lost a lot of days in my life. Going to therapy for a year,I learned a lot about myself. There's a lot of things that scar you when you're growing up, you don't know why. The song Bleeding Me is about that: I was trying to bleed out all bad, get the evil out. While I was going through therapy, I discovered some ugly stuff in there. A dark spot.
PLAYBOY: So did the biggest drinker in Alcohollica stop drinking?
HETFIELD: I took more than a year off from drinking - and the skies didn't part. It was just life, but less fun. The evil didn't come out. I wasn't laughing, wasn't having a good time. I realized, drinking is a part of me. Now I know how far to go. You can't be hungover when you got kids, man. "Dad, get the fuck off the couch!" Well, they don't say that - yet.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever go to AA?
HETFIELD: I wouldn't say I'm an alcoholic - but then, you know, alcoholics say they're not alcoholics.
PLAYBOY: By then, you were spending more time with your father. How did that go?
HETFIELD: It started off really bad. Very mad at him for making the family the way it was. It was never a real father-son kind of thing again.
HAMMETT: James used to be a raging, out-of-control drunk, alway fighting, always getting into trouble. He's a lot more patient now. I think a lot of that had to do with the passing of his father [in 1996, during the Load tour]. After that, he was just a lot more appreciative, thoughtful and compassionate.
PLAYBOY: James strikes us as kind of an enlightened redneck.
HAMMETT: I'll agree with that 100 percent. He lives a certain lifestyle that's easy to poke fun at: He lives out in the country, drinks a lot of beer, has a bunch of guns, goes hunting.
HETFIELD: I eat vegetables, too, man. They're just too easy to kill. Carrots don't get a chance to run. I think animals are there for us. We're on top of the food chain.
PLAYBOY: Maybe you should have a hunting trip with one of the bands that supports PETA, like the Indigo Girls.
HETFIELD: Which one should I kill first? Oh, them hunting with me?
PLAYBOY: Are you uncomfortable with the degree of homophobia in metal?
ULRICH: Totally. Ultimately, why do me and Kirk stick our tongues down each other's throat once in a while in front of the camera? The metal world needs to be fucked with as much as possbile. When the band started, everybody would sit around proving their heterosexuality by gay-bashing and stuff like that. Like, "Oh, fucking faggot." Does that elevate you to some greater he-man status? I never understood that.
PLAYBOY: We've heard James use the word fag jokingly. Does that mean he's homophobic?
HAMMETT: Um, probably. James hasn't had a lot of experience with gay people, and that's a large reason for being homophobic. He needs to be enlightened in that area.
ULRICH: I know he's homophobic. Let there be no question about that. I think homophobia is questioning your sexuality and not being comfortable with it.
PLAYBOY: For the first time in years, there are a lot of metal bands on top of the charts. Most of them are pretty bad, aren't they?
HAMMETT: There's a lot of fucking crap. A lot of regurgitated stuff, too. That Papa Roach song (Last Resort), the main riff is from a fucking Iron Maiden song called Hallowed By Thy Name.
HETFIELD: Limp Bizkit seems a little cartoony to me. I don't like some guy just yelling. Like Rage Against the Machine - it wasn't singing, it was just some guy kind of pissed off, telling you his opinion.
HAMMETT: To me, Limp Bizkit sounds like a second-rate Korn. Korn has a much better vocalist who is somewhat intelligent. A lot of these bands get the right ingredidents, the right formula, and - voila - they have a metal band. A band like Godsmack is just a cross between Metallica and Alice in Chains, with a bit of Korn thrown in.
HETFIELD: Queens of the Stone Age is unique. This band Rocket From the Crypy makes me feel good.
PLAYBOY: Three of you are married, two of you have kids. What has changed?
NEWSTED: Five years ago, the band took priority over all other things. Now, families comes first. I understand that. A family is more important. I'm the only one who's not married, and music still plays the biggest part in my life. I mean, Black Sabbath is my number one band of all time, but Metallica has done more for metal. Metallica is the biggest heavy metal band there has ever been. I want to keep that strong. But Metallica is only one part of my musical life, OK? Those guys will be happy taking six months away from the music. They have other things on their minds. If I even try to go sis days without playing with somebody, I have anxiety-type things happen.
PLAYBOY: It sounds like this sabbatical is frustrating to you.
NEWSTED: Yes. James and Lars started this thing together. They came through all of the hardshpis. And they have serious, written-in-stone feelings about the band, about how it needs to be run. That's very, very hard to swallow sometimes. I guess our understanding is that we don't want to be like other bands, where people go off and do side projects. I have made some incredibly wonderful music with other musicians. It would just floor people - it has floored people. But I just can't release it.
PLAYBOY: James and Lars won't let you?
NEWSTED: It's not Lars.
HETFIELD: We just disagree about side projects. Fans have always viewed Metallica as something they can rely on: We're always there, always strong. We've been the same guys since day one, essentially. The only way you can get out of this band is if you die. When you say Metallica, you know who that is: Lars, James, Kirk and - uh, what's that guy? Jason [laughs]. When someone does a side project it takes away from the strength of Metallica. So there is a little ugliness lately. And it shouldn't be discussed in the press.
NEWSTED: James Hetfield is the heart and soul and pride of Metallica, the protector of the name. I'm not out to disrespect him.

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