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So heavy duty

Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet of Metallica say it loud and clear for Abishai Fernandez.

music Updated: Jan 22, 2009 20:04 IST
Abishai Fernandez

Metallica say it loud and clear for Abishai Fernandez.

Metallica was among the first bands to sue for copyright infringement and downloading. Eight years later, bands like Radiohead have embraced the Internet. Has your stance changed?
Lars Ulrich: We have FLACs and MP3s for sale. For years, there has been a vault on our site from which you can download shows which are 20 years old, for free. Recent shows can be downloaded for a cost.

Earlier there was a much bigger question about “On whose terms?” We said, “It should be about the artiste’s.” All hell broke loose, so we sat on the sidelines for a while. We’ve always been fiercely independent and in control.. at times to a fault. That’s why we exist even today.

Do you think Death Magnetic can compete with the first five albums of Metallica?
Robert Trujillo: Each Metallica album has its own personality. It takes a couple of hearings to get into a really great album.. and that’s true of this one.

I like Death Magnetic but I don’t know how much. We recorded the album as if we were playing a live show, standing up while recording.

The passing away of Cliff Burton must have made a difference to Metallica.
James Hetfield: When you’re with someone you don’t realise that you are fortunate to be with him.. until the day he is gone. That’s the way it was with him. When I see our old footage, I feel we were electrifying on stage. I was in rehab dealing with the loss of my parents and then Cliff died at such young age. All of us in the band miss him.

Next, when Jason joined the band, it was on the heels of grief. We hadn’t recovered from Cliff’s sudden death. We were told to just go out there and bond together and play metal. We were too broken to think twice.

Were there any problems after James’ time in rehab?
Kirk Hammet:
No, I don’t think so. James has pulled it together and he isn’t preachy about his alcohol addiction. He hasn’t forced his opinion on the rest of us. A sober James Hetfield is four times the man now than what he was before.

Wasn’t it a shocker when Jason quit the band after 14 years and pursued his solo career?
James Hetfield: It was, but deep down, we knew it was coming. When you’re part of a family and you move out, it’s like cheating. Jason countered it by saying that I did stuff outside the band which wasn’t true.

We didn’t see eye to eye on several issues. This got to Jason. We still respect Jason as a brother and as a musician.

Lars, you once said that you modelled Metallica on Iron Maiden.
Lars Ulrich:
For me, Iron Maiden has always been an obsession. I’ve always packaged Metallica like Maiden, especially in terms of our Tee-shirts and our vibe with the kids.