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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.