The Press Release:
Metallica appeared on SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show today, sitting down with Howard Stern and co-host Robin Quivers for an interview and jam session spanning the length of the legendary heavy metal act’s career.
Front man and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo opened up about everything from the band’s early aversion toward MTV to how they perfected the riff for “Enter Sandman,” the band also performed a Bob Seger cover, an acoustic rendition of a classic “…And Justice for All” track, and a single off their forthcoming album “72 Seasons.”
Metallica Credits Their Big Break to Ozzy Osbourne:
“[Ozzy] was known to bring out bands that were on the verge of breaking. The time before he took us out he took Mötley Crüe out … It was our turn in ’86,” Lars said, crediting Ozzy and his wife Sharon Osbourne for being “kind enough to take us out and give us that shot.”
“The first show was in Wichita, Kansas — there we were in front of 15,000 people in the middle of America and we couldn’t believe it,” Lars continued. “We opened with ‘Battery’ and … ‘Master of Puppets.’ The first couple songs, [the crowd] was kind of looking up going, ‘What is this racket?’ And then 45 minutes later they were all moving their fists and getting into it.”
Hanging with Ozzy and the other A-list people in his orbit, Metallica knew they had finally made it. “We’d been playing in the minors for years, and now we were in the majors,” Lars concluded.
Metallica on not being featured on MTV:
“We wanted to have a video on there. They wouldn’t touch us,” James said of the network, which eventually changed its tune after Metallica’s massive fanbase demanded representation.
As Lars remembered it, the band took pride in not being mainstream. “There was definitely an element at that time of ‘We don’t belong, we don’t fit in, and we’re not part of that cool club,’” he called. “When you douse a little bit of cynicism on top of that, it’s like, ‘Fuck you — we don’t want to be on MTV.’”
All that changed when the band made a music video for their first Top 40 single, “One.”
“There was something dark about that song,” Lars said. “I think it was [late bassist] Cliff [Burton] and a few other people who kind of came up with this idea of doing a video in the spirit of that ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ movie and actually intercutting it with that footage.”
“It was one of those monumental days like, ‘Holy shit. This is real. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of people that want something different than the formulaic stuff they’re being fed,’” he told Howard.
Metallica Breaks Down Creating the “Enter Sandman” Riff:
“It definitely starts with the riff,” James told him. “For me, as a vocalist, I try to insert where the guitar isn’t.”
“You simplify the riff, so the vocal has its place to jump around,” he said.
Kirk told Howard it came to him one night at 3 a.m. The riff was still in its infancy, he explained while playing the original version for Howard. It wouldn’t reach its final form until he took it to Lars, who suggested Kirk tweak the riff just a bit by repeating the first part three times and then adding a “tail.” “Three repeats and then a tail — then you have a workable riff,” Kirk said.
“Lars doesn’t know how to play guitar, and he will arrange stuff,” James said. “He’ll say, ‘Hey, can’t you do something in another key?’ … It’s like, ‘I wouldn’t do that. I can’t pick that,’ and it will be a challenge … So, there’s a lot of pushing of each other.”
“Thankfully, with this bunch of guys, when we go into a song writing situation we leave our egos outside,” Lars said. “There’s that freedom because there’s trust, and when there’s the trust there’s the love.”
How Kirk Hammett Bought the Legendary “Greeny” Guitar:
“I would never pay a couple million dollars,” Kirk told Howard, explaining the previous owner had given him a deal because he was in “financial straits.” “He brought it to my hotel, I plugged it in, and literally within 30 seconds, I said, ‘You’re not getting this guitar back,’” he recalled.
Before Kirk started making magic with it, Greeny had been played by a litany of guitar gods — including Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and George Harrison — and was used to create Peter Green’s “Black Magic Woman,” among other songs.
“I played it before [Kirk] did,” James told Howard. “The guy brought it backstage to show it to me, and I rejected it … I’m a real idiot.”
“And I played it before James,” Lars added with a laugh.
“[We’re] inseparable now,” Kirk said. “It’s literally 10 feet from me, no matter where I am.”
Metallica’s “72 Seasons” arrives Friday, April 14.
The Howard Stern Show, which airs on SiriusXM channel Howard 100, is broadcast live Mondays through Wednesdays starting at 7:00 am ET. The full show is also available on the SiriusXM app.
For more information on Metallica’s appearance on The Howard Stern Show: https://strn.it/zNQeOZ
Video clips below come care of SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show.
How Kirk Hammett Bought the Legendary “Greeny” Guitar
Metallica Credits Their Big Break to Ozzy Osbourne
What Kept Metallica Off MTV in the ’80s?
Metallica Breaks Down Creating the “Enter Sandman” Riff
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PiercingMetal Thoughts: Editorial thoughts are forthcoming.