METALLICA’s JAMES HETFIELD Reveals New Band That ‘Surprised’ Him And Brought A Smile To His Face

James Hetfield 2023

During his recent appearance on “The Metallica Report,” a podcast that provides weekly insider updates on all things METALLICA, frontman James Hetfield was asked about any new music that has caught his attention in recent months.

James said: “As far as new music goes… Let’s see. I flipped through Sirius [XM] a bunch. I mean, it’s just so easy to go on to your playlist and listen to the same stuff over and over. And if I’m not listening to the radio of some sort where someone else is in control, I’m not learning new stuff so much. I don’t like getting caught in that rabbit hole: ‘If you like this, you might like this.’ And then sometimes that works. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s a computer telling me what I might like.

“But listening to the radio, I guess the newest thing that I was surprised by and really made me smile was CATEGORY 7, a band that’s kind of a collaboration of few people. I was listening to it, I’m going, ‘That voice is awesome. And it sounds very familiar.’ It was fricking John Bush [of ARMORED SAINT], our singer that we never got. And so John Bush is in a band with a few other well-known people out there, Phil Demmel from MACHINE HEAD, [bassist Jack Gibson from] EXODUS, a few other people in this band, kind of a — I don’t know if it’s a, whatever, supergroup of metal guys, but they all wanted to form a band and start playing.

And Brian Slagel [Metal Blade Records CEO] has signed him. So I heard one song on the radio, and that’s it. And it was great. It was really good. And I’m glad that John has kind of gone out on his own and done his own thing. And he was so, so, so tied to ARMORED SAINT and then the ANTHRAX thing. Yeah, it’s exciting.”

Alongside Bush, Demmel, and Gibson, CATEGORY 7 includes former ADRENALINE MOB guitarist Mike Orlando and OVERKILL/SHADOWS FALL drummer Jason Bittner.

The self-titled debut album of CATEGORY 7 is set for release on July 26 through Metal Blade Records.

During the early 1980s, METALLICA invited Bush to join them as their lead singer. After the release of Kill ‘Em All, James Hetfield had doubts about his own singing capabilities and preferred focusing on guitar. Personally, Hetfield approached Bush and asked him to join METALLICA, but he declined the offer to remain loyal to ARMORED SAINT.

Back in 2021, Hetfield revealed that other singers who were being considered for the frontman position in METALLICA included Jess Cox of Newcastle, England’s TYGERS OF PAN TANG and John Bush.

“A lot of those early memories were celebrated with a band called ARMORED SAINT, who were a fellow L.A. band back in the early ’80s,” Hetfield recalled recalled.

“When we were getting started, obviously John Bush was a singer we got to know really well. [We] really, really tried to get him into the band as a singer, it didn’t work out. He was dedicated and very in love with what he was doing with his brothers in ARMORED SAINT. And we absolutely respect that.”

METALLICA did ask me to join, but I said no for all the right reasons,” Bush later said in an interview. “People must think that’s crazy, but you have to remember the scene then. METALLICA was nobody. ARMORED SAINT was hot; you have to remember that. Also, I was very tight with the [ARMORED SAINT] guys, back to elementary school in fact. ARMORED SAINT was getting interest from all kinds of places, and we had a lot of people starting to turn up at shows.”

METALLICA came to see SAINT at a gig in Anaheim, at The Woodstock in 1982. I heard they were interested in asking me to join, which they did later. The thing was that METALLICA was this new kind of thing, and nobody back then. I don’t care what they say now; nobody could have predicted what would happen. I didn’t know the guys either, so there was no real interest. It was great to be asked — in fact, a lot of people asked — but ARMORED SAINT was really strong.

“Some time after Kill ‘Em All had come out, I heard the same thing again, but I never understood that because James was singing great then and he was doing a great job. I understood the lack of confidence back in ’82 but not for Ride The LightningJames owns that record.”