During an appearance on episode 11 of “The Fierce Life” podcast in late March, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield confirmed that he and his bandmates have been working on music for the follow-up to 2016’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct album.
“It’s either touring or writing, so COVID chose for us. There wasn’t a lot of touring going on, so we get to write music,” he said.
When asked if METALLICA is planning to release a new full-length album or just a few songs, Hetfield responded: “Well, hopefully a new album. Whatever you call it these days — I guess it’s an album, a CD, a group of songs, a collection, whatever, a stream or however you get your music now. But, yeah, a bunch of songs. We wrote quite a few songs. So we’ll see how many we like first, and then we’ll put ’em out. We’re pretty selfish that way; we like what we write as well.”
Speaking about the METALLICA songwriting process during the coronavirus pandemic, James said: “This time was a little different, for sure. ‘Cause of COVID, just sitting at home and getting a little bit antsy and just feeling creative at the same time and wanting to get together, I started doing a weekly Zoom with those guys just to check in. And then I just told them one time, ‘Hey, I’m gonna write something. I’m just gonna play something and send it to you guys. You do whatever you want with it and see what happens and layer on to it.’ So that’s how we did a version of ‘Blackened’ 2020.
“I just basically played something. They hadn’t heard it before. They played on it. Then it kind of got layered together. Then we started experimenting with writing on Zoom. Lars [Ulrich, drums] and I would get together, or Kirk [Hammett, guitar] and Lars, and we would get little bits of time here and there writing. It was difficult because of the delay in the sound, so we couldn’t actually play together, but we would play to a click track and watch each other play. We had our producer, who was running my computer while I was playing. He was running my computer from L.A., and I’m in Vail [Colorado]. And then Lars had an assistant running his computer from L.A. — he’s up here in San Francisco — and we were playing together, and it was pretty bizarre. We started writing. We got about — I don’t know — over 10 songs going that way. And then we finally got together. There’s only so much you can do on Zoom.”
Asked if he thinks METALLICA will do any touring this year, he said: “I have no clue. It’s not up to me. It really is up to the safety of everyone — not just the fans, but the crew and us. I’m not sure what that means in the future as far as vaccines. I’m a little skeptical of getting the vaccine, but it seems to be rolling out and people are getting it and I’ve got lots of friends that have done it.
“I’m not totally sure about it,” James added. “But I hope it doesn’t come to a point where you have to have that COVID stamp in your passport or something to go everywhere. But if it comes down to that, then I’ll make a decision then. We got vaccinated to go to Africa, so it’s not like I’ve never been vaccinated before. But as a kid, I never got vaccinations ’cause of our religion [Christian Science]. So that was the only time I got one — when we were going on safari in Africa.”