“We’re All Individually Average Players”

Analyst James Hetfield credits MetallicaThe great success of magic happens as a collective unit, as opposed to the musical skills of the individual members.

“I know individually we’re all average players, but when you put us together, something happens,” Hetfield said in a new cover story for Cigarette Aficionado magazine (as transcribed by Far outside). “Something is bound to happen.”

The singer-guitarist admitted that he wasn’t too comfortable playing with musicians outside of Metallica, adding, “Getting up and jamming with people is like a dream for me.”

Over the years, the members of Metallica may not have been considered virtuosos compared to many of their metal peers – with drummer Lars Ulrich unfortunately bearing the brunt of the musical understatement – but Hetfield makes a good point. It’s really how a band performs as a whole that matters most, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another metal act whose first five albums are as legendary as Metallica’s – except, perhaps, Black Sabbath.

Elsewhere in the interview, Hetfield reflected on his initial period of fear when Metallica first started playing gigs. “The early shows were very difficult – I was very shy,” she said. “[I] don’t want to talk. I would introduce the other guys in the band to the songs. [Now] I feel so comfortable up there, it’s so weird. Sitting one-on-one with one person is more stressful than standing in front of 10,000 people, 20,000 people.”

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He continued, “As we’ve gotten older, we’d love to continue playing all the places we’ve been in the past but it’s almost impossible to continue what we did in, say, the ’90s. We go out for months at a time…We are self-critical and hard on ourselves and have very high standards. That’s why we take care of all aspects of bringing the best performance visually and sonically to the people who enjoy our music and continue to see us live.

Speaking of seeing Metallica live, the band will soon be embarking on a 2023-2024 world tour in support of their upcoming album, 72 Time. Tickets for their upcoming shows are is here.

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