James Hetfield says he has “tons of material” written for new Metallica album

Metallica's James Hetfield performs onstage at Twickenham Stadium on June 20, 2019 in London, England
(Image credit: Matthew Baker/Getty Images)

Metallica have been keeping relatively busy in quarantine, sharing an acoustic reworking of their 1988 song, Blackened, releasing the new S&M2 live album and filming an entire concert in secret at a Northern California winery that was broadcast at drive-in and outdoor theaters across the U.S. and Canada as part of the Encore Drive-In Nights series.

But apparently there’s also new music in the works, as singer and electric guitar player James Hetfield revealed during a recent Sirius XM Town Hall interview.

"For us, we're road dogs - we've been out on the road forever - so you're either on the road or you're writing," Hetfield said. "So the obvious thing is, 'Well, we're not on the road. Start writing.' So, [I've written] tons of material. And I'm sure there's lots of musicians out there that are just, like, 'Okay, what can I do? I'm gonna write and just get into that,' which I love doing.”

In a separate interview with Uproxx, meanwhile, guitarist Kirk Hammett stated that he has more than a few new song ideas – hundreds, actually – up his sleeve as well.

"We have weekly check-ins, and the dialogue has been steered towards what we're going to be doing in the immediate future," Hammett said. "And I've been using this time to go through all my musical ideas that I've come up with. In the last three or four years, it's over 600 ideas. 

"It's taken me a couple of months to go through it all. But they've been sent into the big musical idea bank, and we're starting to talk about going through all that stuff, and exchanging ideas, and just starting to get the ball rolling towards creating some new material."

When it comes to recording, he continued, "There's a lot we can do remotely, but I really think that we all need to be together in the same room, to really create some really, really, really great songs and music. The magic really happens when we're all in the same room, breathing the same air, even though that can be deadly."

As for when we might see Metallica out on the road again? Hammett took a cautiously optimistic stance:

“We’re hoping that maybe if Europe can get it together, then maybe we can start playing some festivals in Europe in the summer. But I don’t know. No one knows. Maybe we’ll be taking temperatures. Maybe there’ll be a saliva test, I don’t know.”

But, he continued, “I have to warn you, and I have to warn everyone: It’s going to take a long time, and no one’s going to tour until it’s safe. I can only talk for us. We’re not going to tour until it’s safe for our fans. Until it’s safe for our fans, we’re not going to expose them, or take the risk of anyone getting sick and getting infected. We don’t want to be responsible for any sort of irresponsibility of that type.”

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.