From the Archive: James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett of Metallica Discuss Their 1997 Album, 'Re-Load'

Here's an interview with Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica from the December 1997 issue of Guitar World.To see the Metallica cover, and all the GW covers from 1997, click here.

Inside a wood-panelled Sausalito, California, studio called The Plant, Metallica frontman James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich gaze reflectively at a dust-covered relic sitting in the corner of the room."

This thing's been in the closet for 10 years," says Hetfield. "It was the second guitar I ever owned, and it was the only one I had when we recorded Kill 'Em All." He picks up the cheap, white Flying V copy and begins to pluck out southern rock licks in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd. "It still plays pretty good," he beams.

In truth, the guitar has seen better days. The paint across the top has eroded, as if spattered with acid, and the headstock has been snapped in half and glued back together. Below the toggle switch, the words "fuck it" are crudely etched into the wood, and the neck is scratched and worn. But like an antique with blemishes that reveal its history and character, the battered Flying V is a perfect symbol of Metallica's tooth-and-nail struggle for recognition in the early Eighties. Seven albums and many millions of dollars later, recognition isn't a problem, but Metallica are still struggling to grow and evolve.

At the moment, the band members are letting down their already shorn hair following an intense studio session for their new record, Re-Load. The ringmaster for the session is Bob Rock, who also added his crisp production to the last two Metallica studio albums, and who is presently under the strain of an impending deadline that looks like it will never be met. "Bob really chewed me out the other day. He totally screamed at me," gripes Hammett. "He does that about once every record. I think the first time was well documented on one of our home videos."

Considering how much pressure they're under, Metallica seem surprisingly relaxed . When he's done widdling on the Flying V, Hetfield hands it over to Ulrich, who flips it over, exposing a rendering of a giant, extended middle finger, and an ugly notched gouge that runs across the back of the instrument. "That's from the bullet belt James used to wear!" laughs Ulrich. "He used to beat the shit out of that thing when we were on tour for Kill 'Em All. That was back when he just didn't give a fuck."

In many ways, Hetfield still doesn't give a fuck. Since their formation in 1981, Metallica have gone from being a batch of reckless, long-haired speed demons to a bunch of anally retentive, methodical musicians who have forsaken sheer velocity for experimentation. Like last year's Load,Re-Load is a departure from the galloping metal anthems and thrash 'n bash barnburners of yore. But while Load embraced boogie-blues licks, swaggering rock rhythms and swirling melodic hooks, Re-Load is more experimental.

Many of the songs are over seven minutes long, and the band favors intricate, sprawling arrangements over instantly memorable hooks. Rest assured, Metallica haven't lost their penchant for crunching distortion and surging power; they've just couched it with more textural and dissonant embellishments.

"Fixer" features an ominous, droning bassline, undulating guitar licks and a riff that sounds like a cross between "Leper Messiah" and an ancient Indian mantra. "Memory" starts as a mid-paced grind that slithers with serpentine guitars before shifting into an unsettling Hebraic-sounding chant by guest vocalist Marianne Faithful I. And "My Eyes" is a shuffling ballad in the style of Tom Waits or Nick Cave, replete with tattered acoustic strums, violins and hurdy-gurdy. Then, of course, there's the B-bender guitar-saturated revamp of the "Black Album'"s "Unforgiven" called (appropriately enough) "Unforgiven II."

"Over the past few years we've all really developed our own personalities and our own points of view," says Hammett. "In the new songs, you can hear how those four personalities play off each other. We just throw it all into one big melting pot, and when you pour it out, this is what you get." He pauses to puff a Cuban cigar he smuggled back from a recent show in England, then continues. "The only band that comes to mind that has evolved along the same lines as us is Led Zeppelin . From Led Zeppelin to Coda is a world of difference. I'm not comparing us to Zeppelin, but just in terms of pure evolution, the similarities are there."

GUITAR WORLD: Why did you call this record Re-Load after releasing one last year called Load?

JAMES HETFIELD: These records belong together, and they should have come out at the same time, but the songs weren't all done. We're putting this one out a year later, now that we've had time to finish it, but we want them to be twins.

KIRK HAMMETT: We were gonna do them both as a double album, but we didn't want to spend that long in the studio. Also, if we did a double album, it would have been a lot more material for people to digest, and some of it might have gotten lost in the shuffle.

The artwork for Load featured a photo by Andres Serrano, who blended his own sperm with cow's blood to create the shot. Will Re-Load feature another picture by Serrano?

HETFIELD: Yes. I hate it, but it has got to match. It's matching hatred. [laughs] I'm not a big fan of the man and his perversions. There's art and then there's just sick motherfuckers, and he's one of them. The thing is, they belong together. I don't care if the guy blows donkeys. The art has got to match.

HAMMETT: I'm really into Serrano. I really like his picture of [a man about to have sex with] a [naked] dwarf [from his History of Sex series]. That's one sexy dwarf. I also like his picture of a guy who has two nipple piercings tied up to a dick piercing, and they're all stretched out. Is it pleasure or pain? It's up to the viewer to decide.

The Serrano motif will probably disappear on Re-Reload, huh?

HETFIELD: Re-Reload. I like that. We could call it Wee-Wee-Load and use a photo of piss and something [raises his right buttock and farts]. Did you get that on tape? I heard this radio show the other day that was playing this interview with Elton 'John, and right in the middle of talking, he just farts. They kept playing it over and over. It was really fucking funny.

How did you decide what songs went onto Load and what went onto Re-Load?

HETFIELD: Re-Load has all of the crappy ones. [laughs] That's the obvious thing to think for the non-thinkers out there. But really, these aren't the rejects, they're just all the songs that weren't finished when we released Load. I think there's a little more extremeness on this one, but there are some big-time, epic heavy riffs, too. They're not pop singles, that's for sure.You describe Re-Load as a continuation of Load, but it also seems like a musical progression . It's definitely more diverse and experimental.HETFIELD: Living with these songs for two years, the four of us came back with very different ideas of what they should evolve into. The good news was that we still liked them, and we wanted to put them out. But we wanted to come up with some newer sounds. We had recorded guitar tracks for a lot of these songs already, but they sounded a little dull; so we re-did them . We really stretched the limits of what a guitar and amp can do, which was fun.HAMMETT: We've grown as musicians since the release of Load, and technology has brought us new things to try in the studio. Also, we've just come off a great tour, so our chops are up.Your backs are up against the wall at deadline time yet again. Why can't you guys ever turn in your homework on time?HAMMETT: This happens every time. We spend 60 or 70 percent of our time on the first 20 percent of the album, and then the last 30 percent on the last 80 percent of the album. It just felt a bit more like a crunch this time because we didn't have a lot of time to begin with. We started recording in July, and we had to get it out by November. The songs were already written and the drums were already recorded, and on paper it sounds like a total cake walk, but in true Metallica fashion, it didn't work like that.HETFIELD: We had to do a lot of editing. We've got Pro Tools [a hard disk recording, editing and mastering system] in there twisting songs around as well, which I don't entirely agree with. It's no secret that there are some drum fix-ups that happen on the computer, and that takes lots of time. Personally, I think the problems could be solved quicker by just playing better. There are some cool loop things and strange sounds you can create through the computer, and you can sit and fuck with that shit all day, but we're not gonna have some fucking computer sitting with us on stage, that's for sure.How did you put together the riffs for Re-load? HETFIELD: Kirk had a little more freedom on this one. His only instruction was to not play what I played. We wanted a point-counterpoint kind of vibe. And we're really splitting the guitars now to get some real different things going on. Some of the songs evolved through different sounds. You sit with a different guitar and a different amp for a while, and it makes you play differently. You start writing a different kind of song, which is really exciting.In the past, Metallica was basically a musical dictatorship run by James. That changed a bit on Load. Did you write a lot of the material on Re-Load, as well, Kirk?HAMMETT: Yeah. I started writing a lot more after the "Black Album" tour. That tour was so fucking long, and after every show I'd sit in my hotel room and play guitar, and occasionally come up with a bit of music and throw it on tape. At the end of the tour, I had eight hours full of music. The best ideas ended up on Load and Re-Load. I just started writing stuff more suited to what the band was doing now. I always try to contribute music as much as I can.Is choosing guitar parts a very competitive, stressful process?HETFIELD: Sometimes. There's always a main riff that the song is built around, but the counterpoint guitar is totally up in the air. Whatever could happen, happens. I'm not there when Kirk is doing his stuff. I think it's easier for him to let loose without me looking over his shoulder. It's a little too intimidating when I'm there. A lot of times it's still hard to let go. You think, "I want to be there every day. This is my song." But you gotta let go sometime.Is there anything that didn't work on Load that you tried to avoid on Re-Load? HETFIELD: No, not at all. There wasn't anything that we didn't dig on Load. Maybe some of the mid-tempo songs like "King Nothing" are difficult for me to make exciting vocally. I really grab ahold of the more extreme stuff -- the faster stuff, the heavier, the more broken-down, mellow stuff. The middle of the road stuff is not too inspiring.There's no real right-hand speed metal riffing on Re-Load. Is there a reason why you've strayed away from that technique?HETFIELD: It's not exciting to us anymore. If I wrote it, then we'd use it. No one's writing that stuff, and when you write, that's really telling your story on how you feel. On "Fuel" there's some pretty quick down-picking, just kind of moving around with root-notes, but that about it. It's a little more exciting for us now to figure out more fucked-up chords, things that grind, dissonant bits.HAMMETT: I still like playing that speed metal stuff live, but we've already proven to the world that we can do that, and we have nothing to prove in that department anymore. I would like to think we save precious CD space for things that we've not done yet.There were rumors circulating that Re-Load would be a return to your unadulterated metal roots. Where did people get that idea?HETFIELD: [laughs] I have no idea. Is this a return to our roots? It depends what you think the roots are. Our roots are not giving a fuck, and that's what this is. It's become very ironic to me that a lot of fans started liking Metallica because we didn't give a fuck. But now it's kind of backfiring on some of them. They have to really sit down and try to figure out why they like Metallica.Throughout Re-Load you experiment with metal, blues, psychedelia, country and southern rock. There's even a spoken-word bit on there. Are you trying to redefine the parameters of hard rock?HAMMETT: Not really. We're just slowly integrating other styles and techniques into our music, which is something any artist does, whether they're a musician or a painter or a race car driver or hairstylist. After a while, if you're truly devoted to what you're doing, you'll take on a lot of influence and integrate it into your own style to make things less boring.Do you think some of your old fans will listen to this record and ask, "Have Metallica lost their fucking minds?"HETFIELD: I hope so. I said that myself when Kirk wore black nail polish to the studio one day. [laughs] There's a fucking recklessness to all the new stuff which I just love. In the past, we were pinned down by so many rules that were put there by fans or by heavy metal. It's time to move on.HAMMETT: If people think we've lost our minds, I think we're doing the right thing. These songs have definitely landed in a place we've never been to before, and that's great. I think it's good for people to expect the unexpected from us. At least you're provoking them and challenging them to think.Are you at all worried that some listeners won't get the new stuff in the same way they didn't get Load?HETFIELD: Well, that comes with evolution, really. If you have the balls to move forward, you're gonna lose some people who don't want to move forward with you . We gotta do this, that's all there is to it.HAMMETT: I don't really care what people think. These are our songs, and that's the reality of it. You can either take it or leave it, and if people don't like it, they have every right not to. We've never catered to anyone, so why should we start now?Many critics have accused you of trying to latch onto the alternative rock craze. How do you plead?HAMMETT: That's totally ridiculous. All the changes in our sound weren't made overnight. They were made over the two or three years we spent out of the media's eye. It wasn't like we all had a meeting two weeks before Load came out, and made all these necessary changes to fit in. Anyway, I hate most alternative music. In the mid Eighties, when glam was really popular, did that have an impact on our music? Hell, no. Did alternative have an impact on our music? Hell, no.A lot of metal bands don't ever evolve or mature. They just get stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence. Is that because their fans don't want them to grow and change?HETFIELD: I understand how metal fans don't want metal bands to change. They need a safety zone in their lives. Things are so crazy out there a lot of people need that kind of safety. I'm just sick of safety.Are the changes in your sound symptomatic of your desire to grow as individuals?HETFIELD: Absolutely. When people don't change, they get stuck and they stop Iiving. I'll go back and see friends from high school or back in the old days. I look at them and go, "Fuck, man, you haven't changed one fucking bit. You're still going to that same liquor store and hanging out at the same places. God damn, man. How about taking a risk and moving forward a bit?" If they're content in what that does to them, that's fine. We're a little more challenging as humans. We want to see what can happen.HAMMETT: Also, we're maturing as musicians. We're not afraid to show different aspects of our musical personalities, and we're not intimidated to try new things, whereas in the past we were. We've broken out of that, and we're slowly spreading our tentacles farther out into different realms of musicality.Do you feel more like an adult now than you did five years ago?HETFIELD: I've got some more aduIt confidence, but some more childish actions. Getting an old '55 Chevy and working on it to turn it into a hot-rod to make the cops chase me -- shit like that has become exciting to me. I never did that as a kid. Cops chased me doing other things, but some of the shit that I missed out on as a youth I'm getting into now.HAMMETT: I feel like I've matured more musically than I have personally. But I totally embrace what becoming older has to offer. I find the wisdom that comes with each passing year is a trip. Just living, and knowing that I've made it this far, makes me happy, because I sincerely didn't think I'd ever make it this far age-wise. I was really, really wild in my early twenties and a bit self-destructive. I did a really good job of keeping it from the public eye, but I was really into drugs, booze and all the things you shouldn't do when you want to stay alive.Are you less bitter and angry these days?HETFIELD: We're just as pissed, but we're using the anger and hatred in a different way. We're not battling it so much, we' re more or less laughing at it. There are things that piss me off every day, but they don't affect me as much in the music. There're better things to think about than that some old son of a bitch is cutting me off in my car or some shit on the news. All that political stuff is shit that you can't change which is not gonna matter in the long run anyway. I think instead of anger, boredom has become more of the theme of the last few albums. Life is about avoiding boredom, really. You gotta seize the day.HAMMETT: I think that anger and aggression are just part of our personalities. It's deep rooted, and that's why it was there in the first place. It was never put on, so you can't just take it off. Life is much easier for us now than it was 10 years ago, but god damn, there are still things in my past that still piss me off. It's too personal to talk about, but I don't think those initial feelings will ever go away.What kind of gear did you use on Re-Load?HAMMETT: The real question is: What gear didn't we use on this record? We have every fucking modern stomp box out there in the studio. We have every brand of amp, so at any given moment, we could be using any combination of things. I've lost track of what we use when and where. Guitar-wise, I've been using my '58 Les Paul, my ESPs, a few old Strats and James' old SG, which I love to death.HETFIELD: There's a basic rack with the Boogie stuff. The old Mesa/Boogie that we've had forever in the studio. There's an amp called The Wizard, that's become a pretty major part of the main, heavy sound. A Vox AC30 has become a really great, exciting middle sound. The Roland Jazz Chorus has always been part of the clean sound, and there's also an old Magnavox amp that I've played. For guitars, lately I got a '59 Les Paul Sunburst that just sounds awesome. I have the same ESP Explorer with the EMG's that my sound was built around. There's a '63 SG that Bob gave me on the Load sessions that sounds awesome for middle sounds and really, really dirty, heavy stuff. I've also got a couple of $100 guitars that have character, but that you really can't keep in tune.A few pedals have come into play. The Lovetones are really awesome. We also goofed around with other textures. We used a Mellotron again, which creates a sad, eerie, not right sound. Also, last time people freaked out, saying that Metallica had gone country. They said there was a pedal steel on the record, which there wasn't. But now there really is a pedal steel on the record, so fuck y'all.James, are you still on a big country kick?HETFIELD: Country music is kind of bugging me lately. I don't like it that much anymore. There's guys I just love 'cause I've met them. Waylon Jennings is such a fucking cool guy. He's got a character and vibe to him. He's a real meaty guy, and his songs mean a lot. But country pop and Garth Brooks bugs the shit out of me. I can't take it. Watching him do that HBO thing made me ill. It's so planned out. Country shouldn't be planned music. It's the spur of the moment, off-the-cuff thing that I dig.There was no wah-wah on Load, but on Re-Load it's back in full force. Why?HAMMETT: A lot of the songs called for it. Some of the solos needed an edge, and the wah lends itself to that. I am a totally dedicated wah-wah freak, and I think I'll die with one underneath my foot. I'll have one thrown in my coffin, and I'll have a wah-wah shaped coffin that will say Crybaby on the side of it.Are there any records in particular that fueled these songs or influenced where you're at now musically?HETFIELD: Always the early Zeppelin stuff. Recently, some guitar tones on real lively stuff like the Rocket From the Crypt records. There's a band called Loudmouth that I've been listening to a lot who have some great aggressive sounds.HAMMETT: My musical tastes change every week. I get stuck on a certain CD and play the shit out of it, driving everyone around me crazy. But the best guitar thing I've heard in a long time is the new Radiohead album. I listen to so much different music. Right now I like Govt. Mule, the Fugees, a lot of bossa nova stuff, a lot of soul. I'm rediscovering King Crimson. I really enjoy the last David Bowie record. I like the new Exodus album, the new Oasis album, Beck. Thelonius Monk. If I could play guitar like he plays piano, that would be the greatest thing in the world.Why did you decide to record "Unforgiven II?"HETFIELD: When I first picked up a Telecaster with a B-Bender, I just started unconsciously playing that song. It sounded really good, and I thought it was something new, but then I was like, "Aw, shit, I know that riff, that's 'Unforgiven.' But it sounded new enough . So I thought, ''Fuck. This could be another song. Well, should we hide the fact that it's 'Unforgiven?' No, let's just make it a continuation." It wasn't like, "Wow, it's worked for other bands. Let's make this song again." The original song had a story to it also, so it could continue.On "Memory" you interrupt a crunchy riff with haunting guitar chimes and an eerie vocal part sung by Marianne FaithfulI. How did that come about?HETFIELD: The song evolved into a "Sunset Boulevard" theme about the twisted movie star who still thinks she's hot shit. We needed a real been-through-it-all voice, and we were trying to think of someone, and Bob Rock suggested Marianne FaithfulI. So we got a hold of her, and she agreed to do it. We met up with her in Dublin, got her drunk, and put her in the studio. She definitely had the vibe, and she's quite an interesting woman. HAMMETT: I love my guitar part on that because it sounds like vintage Sabbath. The bit under Marianne is all guitar. I'm basically playing the same melody underneath her vocals, and then there 's the high octave guitar part, which is James.The song "My Eyes" is probably the least metallic Metallica song ever. It features hurdy-gurdy, violin, practically no distortion and a rhythm reminiscent of Nick Cave. What possessed you to do that?HETFIELD: I was going for the re l broken-down, homeless sound -- like a song played on some random instruments found in an alley way, with some lyrics that were haggardly thrown in there. That song had originally been recorded as a metal ballad. We've got so many of those fucking things already, so I finally convinced Lars to ditch the snare and play a tambourine or something that sounded like it was just lying around. Tom Waits really inspired that. He's really good at finding music in any little instrument. Anyway, Jim Martin [ex-Faith No More] has a hurdy-gurdy in his house, and I sat and fucked with it for a while, and I thought, "Fuck, this thing sounds awesome. We've got to put that somewhere." So we brought it in and figured out a melody. Then we hired some guy who could actually play the instrument. We wanted to really create a mood while we were recording.HAMMETT: The weird sound in that song that sounds like a toy piano is actually a guitar played through a Whammy pedal an octave up, and James plays that.You don't all hang out with each other socially the way you did in the early days of the band. Is the stress of being Metallica starting to pull you apart?HETFIELD: No, we're closer than ever in that we've let ourselves go, and we've discovered that we need each other. Going to bed thinking, "What if Metallica wasn't in my Iife anymore" scares the fuck out of me. It's a freaky feeling. One day it might happen, but right now, this is more than a career to us. This is family. A lot of us grew up without real strong families, so we held onto this, and that was why there was this really strong camaraderie in the beginning. But now that we've started to go off and develop our own families, we've realized how important Metallica really is. And I think it has given us a new view on each other, which is a lot stronger than ever.HAMMETT: Thank God we're not as close as we used to be socially, because we'd be driving each other crazy, and we'd be at each other's throats. When you go on tour you share the same breathing space, and that in itself can be very claustrophobic. So for us to be able to deal with that, and still be able to talk to each other and joke around on tour is enough of a feat. When we get off tour, the natural thing for us to do is to pursue other things outside of our professional careers. But because we're able to respect each other's privacy we've actually become more honest and closer to each other. It blows me away that my relationship with the other guys in the band has been the most consistent thing in my life. This band has outlived my marriage and various personal relationships.James, you used to say you were married to Metallica, but now you're actually married, right?HEIFIELD: Yup. I got married in August. It was time. We had a week off, so I got hitched. I've known her for five years, so it's not gonna change anything hugely. But just evolving in Metallica has made me think about evolving in life also. Now it's time to do other things like create my own family. I love kids, and they'II happen one day. There were kids running around in the studio all the time, and they used to really twist my tits, man. I'd yell, "I'm here to record! Get this shit out of here!" Now it's kind of a welcome sight. It gets me going. Bob's got seven kids, and some of the other crew guys have got young 'uns. And it's pretty inspiring.What made you decide you needed to discover lives outside of Metallica?HAMMETT: You have to remember, for the first 10 years or so, we Iived and breathed this band. But there came a point where we realized there are other things in life to explore. So we took the time to be on our own and see what it felt like to walk among society as normal people, and basically live domestic lives. And when we all came back together to record Load, we were all completely different people, but much more for the better. It was a very enlightening experience. I went back to school, and finally had time to spend at home with my family. We have these aspects of our Iives now that we have to be very tender with, and have to guard and protect because it's all very fragile, which means not touring as much and doing more things at home. As much as we love Metallica and all it stands for, we also don't want it to be our demise.What would it take to break Metallica up?HAMMETT: Any number of things. Metallica is a very complicated, fragile thing. On the outside, it's all metal, but on the inside it's very delicate. At this point, it wouldn't really take much. It's probably always been like that though. A band is basically an agreement between four people. That's all it is. If you press the right buttons it can just explode at any second.HETFIELD: I don't know, man. I think it would take a lot to break us up. We've been through deaths, disasters, fans freaking out, all that kind of crap. I think we're necessary for each other. It would definitely take a lot.James, a lot of people view you as this gruff, working-class guy who is maybe a bit uncultured. Is that image just a stereotype?HETFIELD: I don't know. I've worn a tie before, but I don't know how to tie it. Someone else did it for me. [laughs] When I looked at some of the Serrano art, Lars would sit there and say, "Wow, there's great movement in this. The color scheme is great," and he'll just go into this art lingo. And I just go, "That looks like a fucking sunset, dude." Dressing up and going to a restaurant, sometimes that's fun. But I think a lot of people judge other people by their clothing, and I hate that shit. You might think someone's important because he's got on nice clothing, but he could be a fucking mass murderer.What do you do for kicks now?HETFIELD: I love hunting. I like hot rods, that's my new passion. I think from the outside I look pretty simple, but there's some complex shit inside. But sometimes you forget about simple things that just make you happy. You're never satisfied, but that's life.What makes you happy?HETFIELD: Finishing interviews. [laughs] When a song works out the way you want it to work out, that's really satisfying. As a musician, you always feel next time something's gotta be better. But that's just how it is. If you're satisfied, there's something that dies in you.HAMMETT: Playing guitar makes me happy. It really does. And there's a big difference between playing guitar in Metallica and playing it recreationally. I love to sit around and play blues, jazz and bossa nova stuff. I also hang out with my dog, and Lars calls me on weekends, and we go out and get drunk. I read a lot. I'm still very much into collecting horror stuff like toys and movie stuff. I playa lot of pinball. That's something I've just discovered, and I love it to death. It's much more soulful than video games, and you can beat the shit out of the machine. You don't have 1,500 levels to go through. It's the luck of the rebound, and I find it really clears my head, especially when I've had a shitty day.Do you still like to play the old Metallica tunes?HETFIELD: Yeah, absolutely. Live, it's great. You always update it, and you throw some new shit in here and there. You look at each other, and go, "I remember why we wrote this fucking song, and I feel it."HAMMETT: For me, it depends what part of the tour it is. By the end of the tour I'm thinking, "Aw, 'Seek and Destroy' again?" In general though, I still love playing all that stuff. I still get off on it, and I think that just goes to show how timely our music is to ourselves.What was your favorite part of the Load tour?HETFIELD: That whole tour was probably the funnest tour I've been on because of the way the stage was set up with all the different mikes all over the arena, and the way we combined the old and new songs. I just loved the crowds. People weren't sure if they liked us anymore, and there was a little hatred in there, which was kind of fun . The fucking cost of that show was horrendous, though.You had people dangling from lighting rigs, and you set a guy on fire during the set. Did anything ever backfire?HAMMETT: A couple times there was pyro that went off when it shouldn't have, like when I was standing right over it. It burned all the hair off my arm once, what little hair I do have there. It was just amazing that no one got seriously injured.HETFIELD: A crew guy really did explode at a soundcheck. He was checking the pyro, and it blew up in his face. He was all right after a few weeks. His face was al l swollen up and red, and I know exactly how that felt because it happened to me once. Swinging from the truss, a guy actually cracked his head open. The whole element of danger was a lot of fun.Were audiences duped into thinking that one of your crew members was really on fire?HAMMETT: Every single night we would get faxes saying," I hope everyone in the band is okay, and I hope that guy isn't badly burned." Or we'd get letters saying, "That wasn't funny. My brother fell off a roof and it brought me back to that point." But what these people don't understand is that it's show business. It's a special effect. It's supposed to move you in that sort of way, and I'm sorry if you just can't survive it mentally. Maybe next time we go on tour we'll do a human sacrifice.

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Jon Wiederhorn

Jon is an author, journalist, and podcaster who recently wrote and hosted the first 12-episode season of the acclaimed Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, an exclusive from Diversion Podcasts/iHeart. He is also the primary author of the popular Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal and the sole author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends. In addition, he co-wrote I'm the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian), Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen (with Al Jourgensen), and My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret). Wiederhorn has worked on staff as an associate editor for Rolling Stone, Executive Editor of Guitar Magazine, and senior writer for MTV News. His work has also appeared in Spin, Entertainment Weekly,, Revolver, Inked, and other publications and websites.