METALLICA frontman James Hetfield has spoken out about how the changes in the music industry and the introduction of digital technology have affected the way his band conducts its business.
“The consumer world, retail, whatever, the product part of it — it’s a whole different way,” Hetfield told the METALLICA fan-club magazine So What! “But what hasn’t changed is the way we record.”
He continued: “We have a ton of [new] material [for the next METALLICA album]. We’re sifting our way through it. We want the best of the best. That’s what we’ve always done, and as long as it takes is as long as it takes.
“We’re not gonna cater to the consumer now, because we never have.
“We want the best thing at the right time, whenever that time is right. So to put something out every year just because you need to keep fresh or whatever, that doesn’t work for us. And if we fade away or whatever happens, it happens.”
Hetfield added: “We need to do things the way we feel, and at the end of the day, we feel good about. We feel good that we didn’t try to rush this or that just to please others. But that can also fall into ‘the older you get, maybe the less you care about all that shit.'”
Despite the fact that METALLICA goes about making music in the same fashion it always has, Hetfield does admit to paying attention to how technological advancements have affected the world we live in. He said: “The changes around us still interest me. It still interests me that, ‘Wow, this is the way people are getting their music.'”
He continued: “As much as we’ve talked about the landscape of the music business not being what it was, I’m excited about the fact that it’s different. That difference used to really scare me, and because things are changing so fast, I’ve started to feel older because I wasn’t keeping up with that pace, found myself sounding like a grandpa! ‘These kids today,’ you know. But what? My way’s better? No. This is just a different way. So I adapt to it as much as I feel comfortable.”
Hetfield went on to say: “I don’t want to be stuck in the way it used to be, but there’s also a comfort in it that I can’t deny. I love listening to ’70s rock, early ’80s metal. Doesn’t mean I don’t like some new music. I wish I got the same feeling from music today that I did then, but it’s near-impossible. That was my adolescence. That’s when I’d say music is the most important for anyone. The memories that shape my life from between 13 to 28, whatever they say adolescene is, that’s when you’re most influenced by stuff and you absorb it. So, of course, music from then is gonna make me feel good. But it’s exciting to still be doing what we’re doing, and in an environment that is so different. We can put out a song a week. We could put out a whole album. We can do five festivals on each continent. There’s just so much opportunity and a lot of fresh ideas to work off of.”
Hetfield also dismissed any talk of retirement in the not-too-distant future, explaining: “Look, musicians never retire. They just become less popular. People think you’ve retired, but no, I’m still writing. It’s a part of me. It’s what I do on this planet. That’s why I’ve been put here, I believe. And if I stop that, part of me dies.”
He continued: “There’s no retirement. So we do what we do until physically we can’t do it.
“We have always been a live band, but at this stage, in our 50s, it’s physically harder to tour. We’ve all got kids, some of us teenage kids, and we want to do family stuff. That doesn’t mean that ten years from now we won’t be empty nesters and want to just frigging travel the globe. Who knows?”
METALLICA is currently working on the long-awaited follow-up to 2008’s “Death Magnetic” album for a tentative 2016 release.
The new METALLICA CD is being produced by Greg Fidelman, who was the recording engineer for “Death Magnetic”.
METALLICA has spent a lot of time outside the studio in the last year, with activities that included a string of European all-request shows, a week-long residency on “The Late Show With Craig Ferguson”, and a Rock In Rio USA stint.