playboy april 2001
interview
Metallica

PLAYBOY: Did you know they were telling people you were gay?
NEWSTED: No. I mean, dude, there was so much, that's like a minor detail.
PLAYBOY: Why did they do that and why did you put up with it?
NEWSTED: Because it was Metallica, it was my dream come true, man. I was defintely frustrated, fed up and kind of feeling unliked. They did it so see if I could handle it. If you're going to fill the shoes of Cliff Burton, you have to be resilient.
PLAYBOY: OK, guys, who was the biggest drinker in Alcohollica?
HAMMETT: James. He would drink half a bottle of Jagermeister by himself, as well as drinking Vodka.
ULRICH: James Hetfield. If me And James started drinking at the same time, six hours of hard liquor later, I would be passed out. For quite a while, he was embracing alcohol at a different level from the rest of us.
HETFIELD: I was. I had to have a bottle of Vodka just for fun. I'm surprised I'm still alive.
NEWSTED: That's a tough call. Fist for fist, I think Lars. He can take it to a different place, because he's Danish. They get conditioned real early.
ULRICH: [LAUGHS] I had much more of the binge mentality; I'd go every night for three days, then I wouldn't touch a drop for the next four.
NEWSTED: James is the only one that ever drank so much he couldn't show up for a rehearsal or for photos. He is the only one who ever actually poisoned himself.
HAMMETT: Jason's not so much of a drinker as the rest of us are. He likes to smoke pot.
PLAYBOY: People who like fast music usually like fast drugs. Did the band get into speed?
HAMMETT: Speed is a bad word in our camp. But speed freaks love us.
ULRICH: James is the only one who never really engaged in any kind of drug abuse. Me, Jason, Kirk and Cliff were always experimenting with different things to a higher degree.
HAMMETT: Cocaine has definitely been in our lives. You hang out with other musicians, and next thing you know, you have five guys crammed into a bathroom stall. I had a bad coke problem on the And Justice For All tour, but I pulled out of that, because it makes me depressed, basically. I tried smack once. I was so thankfull that I hated it.
ULRICH: I tried acid once; I was shit-fucking scared. The only drug I've ever really engaged in is cocaine. It gave me another couple of hours of drinking. A lot of people use it as a way to get closer to you, and you fall for that. I go through cycles where I say, "OK, I'm going to pull away for a while." And then I take six months away.
PLAYBOY: Jason, as time went on, did the band stop hazing you?
NEWSTED: They actually got tougher as time went on. The second and third years were the most brutal. Instead of fraternity pranks, there were things that cut deep and were based on disrespect.
PLAYBOY: What did they do that was disrespectful?
NEWSTED: Turning the bass down on And Justice For All. Not listening to my ideas, musically.
PLAYBOY: Is Jason even on And Justice For All?
HETFIELD: His picture is on it [big laugh]. Someone sent me a joke CD, with a sticker on the outside that says, "And Justice For All - now with bass!"
ULRICH: It's the only record of ours that I'm not entirely comfortable with. It became about ability and almost athletics, rahter than music.
PLAYBOY: Bands are usually like families, and it sounds like this familiy fights a whole lot.
HAMMETT: There are a lot of soap operas and petty dramas that come with being in this band. I find myself playing referee. I've been the buffer between James and Lars, I've been the buffer between Lars and Jason.
HETFIELD: Lars' name keeps getting brought up, doesn't it? [laughs] He's usually the instigator, with his mouth. He can be a real ass at times, and pull attitudes. I punched him onstage once - probably our third gig ever. We agreed we were going to play Let It Loose for our encore, and he went up there and started a different song, Killing Time, because it started with drums. I turned back: "You motherfucker!" I couldn't remember the lyrics, it was a complete failure.
ULRICH: I started the song I wanted to play. I don't remember why - maybe I felt it was a more suitable encore. And then he punched me.
HETFIELD: I remember throwing him into his drum kit a couple of times, throwing some cymbals, cutting his head open.
ULRICH: I've gotten into a couple of fights with Jason.
HAMMETT: I've never hit anyone in the band. I practice a lot of yoga now, and read a lot of Eastern philosophy. I'm a huge believer in karma: no meat, no beef, no swine, no fowl.
HETFIELD: I'm definitely not the smartest guy in the band, so winning an intellectual argument is not going to happen. Resorting to violence used to work. And intimidation.
HAMMETT: When James comes at you screaming, he can be intimidating.
PLAYBOY: A lot of things have happened to Metallica. Does that mean the band has bad karma?
HAMMETT: Quite possibly. Goddamn it, we've been through a lot of things. It has to be karma. I don't know if it's the energy our songs release. People channel the energy of our music - 90 percent of the time it's good, but maybe 10 percent of the time it's bad. I've heard stories of skinheads listening to our music and fucking tattooing song titles on their arms with big swastikas underneath. Maybe it's just personal karma. Maybe the reason James has had so many accidents is because of his own personal karma, and it affects the band.
PLAYBOY: How would you describe the change that came after And Justice for All, starting with the Black Album?
ULRICH: The earlier records were about brute force, stuff like that. As James became more comfortable, elements of vulnerability and confusion came across, with less banging-on-the-chest type of stuff. Instead of "It's fucked up and I'm going to kill everything in my wake", it was more like, "It's fucked up and I'm really suffering from it."
HETFIELD: On the Black Album, when I went to write lyrics, I didn't know what the fuck to write about. I was trying to write lyrics that the band could stand behind - but we are four completely different individuals. So the only way to go was in.

PLAYBOY: Of all the stuff you wrote James, what was the song you most hesitated over recording?
HETFIELD: Nothing Else Matters. That was a huge turning point. It was sensitive.
PLAYBOY: In theme, Nothing Else Matters is kind of like the Styx song Babe.
HETFIELD: Fuck you. Fuck you very much [smiles]. I didn't think the band would like it. But they were really supportive about it.
HAMMETT: All I could think of at the time was, James wrote a fucking love song to his girlfriend? That's just weird.
NEWSTED: At first, it didn't sound very much like Metallica to me. I like the fast heavy stuff. I don't think Metallica should do country. We came pretty close to it on Mama Said (from Load). I don't think that tasted very good to me.
HAMMETT: James always wants to be perveived as this guy who is very confident and strong. And for him to write lyrics like that - showing a sensitive side - took a lot of balls. Lars, Jason and I were going through divorces. I was an emotional wreck. I was trying to take those feeling of guilt and failure and channel them into the music, to get something positive out of it. Jason and Lars were too, and I think that has a lot to do with why the Black Album sounds the way it does.

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