You've said in the past that for the first albums you had a "gunslinger" attitude.

That went right through Master of Puppets, which was kind of half and half. I can still think of times when I thought, "Well, this solo just has to be the shit." But that was also when I started to slow down and give my solos a little bit more breathing space. The solos on the Metallica album are more my kind of style. Another thing I learned just recently concerns laying back, and pushing on notes, playing certain notes softer and certain notes harder. It's like a real subtle thing that makes a ton of difference. It comes from the blues. It's more like that grooving, swinging thing-the big 4/4 type beat. I remember one time Jason [Newsted] put on a blues recoordand the band sounded like they were about to fall apart at any second. The bass player's playing behind the beat, the guitar player was in front of the beat, and the piano player was like soloing all over. There was something compelling about listening to that type of music. I thought to myself, sometimes when music is played like that, it has the ability to keep the listener on edge. I stored that in the back of my mind. Then when we went into the studio and I was doing my solos, [producer] Bob Rock was aware of that same aspect. He goes, "Why don't you try to incorporate some of that into this little passage right here?" I learned a lot from his suggesting that. Listen to "Sad But True."


How have you been exploring the blues?

Me and Jason jam a lot. Jamming with someone helps your playing a lot more than just playing by yourself in a room. Maybe it is obvious but we just started doing this on tour. A lot of people ask, "What are you going to do on your day off?" I tell them, "Me and Jason are going to jam." They kind of look at us funny. They think, "Isn't that what you're doing gigging, going out and playing?" I go, "Yeah, but when we jam is the time when we pursue our outside musical interests." Me and Jason are heavily into the blues now. Buddy Guy, Albert King, B.B. King, of course the Vaughan Brothers. I just picked up Magic Slim. He rips. He is amazing. He plays a Jaguar. Robert Johnson is incredible. Son House is incredible too. Clarence Gatemouth Brown ...when that guy picks up a violin and plays blues licks on a violin, me and Jason feel like crying all the way home. We're going to form a blues band when we get off the road. We have a lot of songs written. We play anything from jazz tunes to sloppy '50s progressions-you know, those A minor, F, C, G [chords] that every '50s song uses. We play Mississippi Delta style blues. We play slide and Hendrixy stuff. One time we played "Voodoo Child" for an hour. One night when I was really drunk I sang ''I'm A man."


What might attract Metallica fans to the blues?

Check out the mood. Howlin' Wolf wrote some pretty heavy riffs. "Smokestack Lightning" is the riff everyone knows. Back then it was considered punky and dirty and lowdown. It was the devil's music. It's similar to the people we see out in front of our gigs handing out flyers saying Metallica is the devil's music and "666" and all this other crap. Those blues people were getting the same bad rap a lot of people are trying to hang on us right now. If you turned it up and played it aggressively, "Smokestack Lightning" is basically a heavy metal song.


Sort of what Jeff Beck did to "Ain't Superstitious."

Exactly. The attitude is there. Maybe not the types of distortion and types of low end but the basic attitude is there. The attitude of rebellion, anger and not being satisfied with your lifestyle. A lot of those same feelings came across in that music that come across in heavy metal. If someone wants to get into blues and is looking for that same sort of thing, you ...



... in the band and my own guitar playing. I see it here and there. It's a passing thought to me. I don't dwell on it. Alot of it has to do with the fact that we're a high profile metal band now.


That's not it. It was a stylistic change. Are you aware of that?

I guess I am aware of it but I haven't thought about it. Maybe it's short-sightedness. I notice there has been a stylistic change in a lot of other metal bands. The heavy down-picking thing, the palm muting thing, the fast stuff, the minor chords, the flatted fifth type progressions, the tempo changes from half-time to doubletime are real popular right now. Whenever I hear a lot of that I think, "Hey, that's just like this song." A lot of people try to get James' rhythm guitar sound, much the same way that players tried to get that Yngwietype of playing back in the mid '80s or the Van Halen hammer-on thing in the early '80s.Alot of people are trying to get the sound and that attitude that James gets.


The Priest/Ozzy/Sabbath/Dio sound is considered almost passe.

Yeah, you're right. I might be wrong but I have a feeling that heavy metal is going to start getting more industrialized, like Ministry and Godflesh and Head of David. The main guy in Ministry, Al Jorgensen, had a side project called 1,000 Homo DJs. He did a cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" and industrialized it. I listened to that and thought this might be the new direction that metal is going in. At the same time we have the whole Seattle thing, which isn't new. I've been listening to Seattle bands since 1988. I might get a lot of flak for this, but Pearl Jam remind me of classic rock. Nirvana have moments when they are very Sabbath-like. Bands like Tad sound like late '70s hard rock to me. Soundgarden sound Sabbathy but that is a little more obvious. It backs my theory that music has a way of recycling itself and regurgitating out all the bad elements and keeping all the good elements and adding in fresh ideas.


Will Metallica become industrialized?

I don't know; it all depends if I buy a·sampling device or not. We all write music, then we all get together. Once all that music comes together, that's when the change is evident. Our sound is capable of changing within a couple of weeks. It's all depending on what everyone has written over the past two years and how everything has been coordinated.


What's your answer to those who say you sold out on the Metallica album?

That's all bullshit. Sold out! Come on, we just got together and we wrote music that we wanted to make different. We approached it from a different attitude and we were totally taking a chance. Sold out!We could have put out an album just like our first four albums. That would be selling out because that is tried and true success. That's guaranteed success for us. That's what selling out to me is: Guaranteeing your success. We went the opposite route.


Do you anticipate you will not go back to the era when bass and drums played the same riff?

I wouldn't rule out that playing technique. As far as having a whole album like that, I don't know. We've grown musically over the course of this tour. I've seen it with all of us. James is listening heavily to country and western music and playing pedal steel. I've become even more of a Hendrix fan than I've ever been and I'm playing a lot of blues now. Lars has a very open ear now to younger, fresher things that are out on the street. I don't mean this as an insult but Lars used to only listen to bands once they made the Billboard Top 10. He is a lot more open in his listening nowadays. Our musical taste has changed considerably over the course of this tour. Who is to say what the next Metallica record will sound like?

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