PUSHEAD: WHO JOINED THE BAND FIRST, KIRK OR CLIFF?
JAMES: Cliff. We saw him play... I think Slagel put this gig together in LA, it was two in the morning Monday night at the Whiskey. I think 20 people showed up. There was Trauma, Violation, and one other band. We all went down, saw Cliff play and said, 'Yeah, that's our guy!'.
DID HE HAVE ANY IDEA WHO YOU GUYS WERE?
J: No. So we kept coming up to S.F. to do gigs every once in a while. The scene was way better up here, just the overall vibe. People could get into what we were doing as opposed to L.A., where they were just hanging out, posing with their drinks and cigarettes. We kept bugging the shit out of him when they came down to shoot a video in L.A. and we went and bugged him there too. Finally he said, 'Yeah, cool.' Things weren't going well in his band either. He could see the direction they were going, kind of more poppy type. And he said, 'Yeah, I'll join the band if you guys will move up here.' Well, hell yeah, we were into it, we were sick of L.A.
WAS DAVE MUSTAINE STILL IN THE BAND AT THAT TIME?
WHEN DID YOU GET RID OF DAVE AND FIND KIRK?
J: That was when we hooked up with Johnny Z. Johnathan Zezula, Megaforce... and crazed manager. He wired us $1,500 from Jersey and said, 'Get yourself out here.' We said okay.
WHY DID HE WANT YOU OUT THERE? TO PLAY OR RECORD?
J: To record. We were going to get away from home for a bit and see what the scene was like out there. Now that I think of it--It was really wild that we did that. All of a sudden just move up to S.F., no place to stay or nothing. Finally, we crashed at Mark Whittaker's pad. It was cool.
KIRK: Mark ended up helping out on the recordings of "Kill 'Em All" and "Ride The Lightning." He was also our sound person.
J: Yeah, he came out to Jersey with us. We just threw all our shit and everything into a U-Haul and started driving....
KIRK WASN'T IN THE BAND YET WHEN YOU WENT BACK EAST?
K: What happened was that on the way to New York they had problems with Dave.
J: Mark Whittaker was also Exodus' manager at that time. And he kept playing live tapes of Kirk.
SO KIRK, WHAT MADE YOU GO FROM EXODUS TO METALLICA?
K: At the time Exodus was having personnel problems, we had this bass player who wasn't really fitting into the direction we were going. The band wasn't rehearsing and we were at a real stale period. I was getting kind of fed up. It's really funny, because one day I was sitting on the can and I got a phone call from Whittaker. He called up and asked me if I'd be interested in flying to New York to try out with the band, because they were having problems with Dave.
DID YOU KNOW THE BAND?
K: Yeah, I saw Metallica twice and then we played with them at the Stone. What was that, the Night of the Banging Head or something?
J: The Ear Spankers or whatever it was. (laughs) That was a great one.
K: Opportunity knocked, so I thought, what else do I have to do but check this out? So, Mark Fed-X'ed a tape out and I sat down with the tape for a couple of days. And then I started to get more calls from Whittaker saying, 'Well, are you into it?'. I said, 'Yeah, sure,' and then he said, 'Well, the band wants you to come out to New York to audition with them.' So I thought about it and I thought about it, for like two seconds, and said, 'Sure, I'll check it out.'
WERE THERE ANY HARD FEELINGS WITH THE REST OF THE GUYS IN EXODUS?
K: At first, but they understood. If any of them would have been approached they would have done the same thing.
J: There was a whole strange period right there, all of a sudden a straight drive out to New York in a U-Haul. There were five of us and we had a mattress in the back to switch off sleeping. Get in the back. Slam. You're shut in. We'd never been out of California and we got there to find out we were having some real problems with Dave's attitude. He couldn't really handle being away from home or something. It was just a bit funky and we knew it couldn't go on like that so we started looking at the other stuff. It wasn't like we really auditioned Kirk. He came in, set up, played and he was there. I don't know what we would have done if we didn't like him. We didn't have the money to send him back. We barely had enough money to get Dave home. He flew back on Greyhound. (laughs) 'When does my plane leave?' Here Dave, bus ticket, one hour, see ya. Kirk flew in like an hour after that. Dave almost missed his bus. That would have been great.
K: It was real weird because I was in the same situation of being out of California for the first time and on top of that I barely knew any of them. The only one I knew was Mark. I took a big chance because there was always the possibility that they might not have liked me or something. I flew out there with all kinds of equipment and stuff and I even paid for it.
J: You were using Dave's stuff too. He couldn't get it home on the bus.
K: Yeah, I was. I used a couple of his cabinets.
YOU PLAYED WITH VENOM?
J: Yeah, a huge thing. Venom gigs, da-da-da!
K: There were about a thousand people there. It was one of the big underground shows.
WHAT WAS THE RESPONSE TO WHAT YOU WERE DOING, AS COMPARED TO WHAT VENOM WAS DOING?
K: It was good, people really liked it. We were still pretty much an under- ground act.
J: It was one of our first major gigs.
K: Johnny Z plugged us a lot, in a lot of New York newspapers....
J: He owned a record store too, Johnny Z's Rock and Roll Heaven, and he was selling the demo and album.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THOUGHT YOU WERE AN EAST COAST BAND BECAUSE THE DEMO WAS AVAILABLE THROUGH THERE.
J: Pissed us off. YOU HAD AN ADDRESS IN S.F., PEOPLE HAD HEARD YOU WERE FROM L.A....IT WAS LIKE, 'WHERE ARE THEY FROM?'
J: Yeah. And the fan club was in Oregon.
K: Billboard still thinks we're a Danish band.
WHEN YOU WENT TO NEW YORK YOU RECORDED "KILL 'EM ALL" WHICH TOOK EVERYBODY BY SURPRISE.
K: We got a half a star in Sounds Magazine. (laughs)
I BET IF YOU SENT IT TO THEM TODAY THEY'D GIVE YOU FOUR STARS.
K: Yeah, we got five stars, for "Master Of Puppets."
J: We didn't give a fuck at all.
K: We thought that whatever we did, there'd be people who would approach it with a lot of hesitation, because it was so different back then.
DID YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A HEAVY METAL BAND AT THAT TIME?
J: Yeah. None of us were really into the punk stuff, except maybe the Ramones or the Pistols. We were not real hardcore punk fans.
K: That's the thing that a lot of people don't know, when we first started we weren't heavily into punk. It was very, very slight. Motorhead and the Ramones.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO PLAY THE RIFFS THAT MUCH FASTER?
BUT YOU WERE EVEN FASTER THAN MOTORHEAD.
J: We'd just keep practicing and the songs would get faster and faster and the energy kept building up and it sounded more backbuster.
K: When we write something, from the time we write it until the time it actually comes out, it's a lot faster on the album. And then from the time it's cut on vinyl to the time we're actually playing live, it's even faster. I think that's what happened in the beginning. We wrote stuff thinking that we were going to play it at a normal speed and just naturally speed it up.
J: It's always faster, hella shit's going on live. Booze and freaks dinking around, just the excitement.
K: The adrenaline flow.
SO HERE YOU HAD THIS NEW FORM OF METAL, WHICH I GUESS NOW IS CALLED SPEED-METAL, OR WHATEVER.
K: I hate that word. I hate any sort of label like that.
LABELS ARE THE ONLY WAY PEOPLE CAN CLASSIFY SOMETHING. SOME PEOPLE HATE HEAVY METAL BECAUSE BANDS LIKE JOURNEY ARE PUT INTO THAT CATEGORY.
J: If someone has a shitty opinion of heavy metal they're not going to be impartial anyway... 'Metallica's heavy metal? Oh, I hate them already,' and they don't even know what we sound like.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE BEFORE "KILL 'EM ALL" SALES TOOK OFF?
J: Until "Master Of Puppets" came out. (laughs) K: It sold pretty steadily. It wasn't selling in enormous number but it sold...
J: All our albums have sold steadily. When it first comes out all the hard- core fans will buy it. But then it doesn't drop off, it just keeps steadily hanging out in the same place.
K: After we got back from the "Kill 'Em All For One" tour, we played some gigs sporadically in the Bay Area, we started writing new material for "Ride The Lightning" and then we played the Halloween gig. We put out the "Jump in the Fire" EP and got ready to go to Europe. It was our first European tour and when we got there we were pretty surprised at the response, because the original "No Life 'till Leather" demo was circulated a lot through Europe. Throughout Holland, Denmark, Germany and stuff.
J: Yeah, hundredth generation tapes... you could barely hear what the hell was going on, but they were into it.
K: So we had a following with the demo and then "Kill 'Em All" came out on the European label and did better than it did in America. There was more of an audience over there waiting to see us.
ALL THESE BANDS STARTED FORMING AND EVERYBODY WOULD SAY, 'METALLICA'S MY MAIN INFLUENCE.' HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?
J: It was real cool. If people are influenced by you--you must be doing something right. It must be something original. A lot of bands, like Van Halen and Black Sabbath, when they started out, hella people copied them after that.
IT'S BEEN SAID THAT METALLICA SORT OF BROKE THE STAGNATION THAT EXISTED IN AMERICAN HEAVY METAL.
K: Yeah, I guess we were inspirational at the time.
DID YOU WANT TO BE THAT WAY OF DID IT JUST HAPPEN?
K: It just happened that way--it wasn't intentional. We thought: this is cool, we can get more things happening now in the metal scene. We broke open a lot more roads of communication.
WITH THE UNDERGROUND SUCCESS OF "KILL 'EM ALL" AND A COMING TREND OF NEW BANDS IN THE METALLICA GENRE, WERE THE ATTITUDES OF CERTAIN BAND MEMBERS AFFECTED IN ANY WAY?
K: At that time the success wasn't really that major. We were still an under- ground band, but with a lot of people copying us. I think the musicians took to us first. They took to us saying, 'Hey, this is cool, we gotta listen to this and be like this.' At that point we were still pretty much underground.
J: We were definitely confident of what we were doing. We weren't really threatened by any bands. There were no attitude problems like, 'Oh wow, we invented it.' We just kept moving on in no special, different direction. Well, like "Kill 'Em All" material was written at least a year and a half before it was recorded, so those were songs we'd been doing for awhile.
ON "KILL 'EM ALL" WE FIRST HEARD WHAT WE MIGHT CALL THE "CHUNKA-CHUNKA" RIFF? WHERE DID THAT RIFF COME FROM?
J: Well I was always into the riffy stuff. Diamond Head, Sabbath...
K: The stuff that moves around real heavily--it takes you from one part to another with no bullshit in between. It's like a well crafted movie, from scene to scene.
J: We come up with a lot of riffs on accident. We'll just be goofing around on guitar and... get a tape deck quick!
K: Yeah, just goof around and build on it.
WOULD YOU ADVISE OTHER PEOPLE TO DO THE SAME THING?
J: No! That's the way we do it. Don't do it! (laughs)... That's the way it works for us, we can't just sit down and say, 'O.K., we have to write, let's go.'
DO YOU WRITE THE MUSIC FIRST OR THE LYRICS FIRST?
J: Both first. We come up with song titles and riffs first.
K: We come up with a basic concept first.
WHY DOES THE STUFF ON SAY, "KILL 'EM ALL" HAVE MORE OF A VIOLENT EDGE?
J: We came up with that title because we couldn't have some of the other titles we wanted and that pissed us off. The record company said, 'No you can't,' so Cliff said, 'Those record company fuckers, you know, kill 'em all.'
K: We were all pissed off because the record company said we couldn't call our record this because it wouldn't sell as many albums.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO CALL IT INITIALLY?
J: "Metal Up Your Ass."
K: An independent company wouldn't let us call it "Metal Up Your Ass."
J: We wanted it to be with the toilet and the knife, that we have on shirts now, which get twice as much exposure. Ha ha.
WHY THE VIOLENT EDGE, WAS THERE ANY REASON FOR IT?
J: Pissed off.
K: It was just the frame of mind...
WHERE DOES THE PUNK EDGE COME IN? ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE ARE PHOTOS OF YOU GUYS WEARING GBH AND DISCHARGE SHIRTS...
K: Well, what happened was we were playing this music no other metal bands were playing and then all of the sudden one day we heard a punk band that was playing as fast as we were. We said, 'Hey, this is cool.'
YOU HAD NO IDEA THIS PUNK SCENE EXISTED?
J: Not too much. Punks would come to our show and say, 'Hey, have you ever heard of this band or this band.' 'No. Give me a tape, let's hear them.' We started getting into it that way.
WHAT IS THE FIRST BAND YOU HEARD FROM THAT SIDE?
K: Discharge, for me.
J: It was either Discharge or GBH.
DID THAT CHANGE THE WAY YOU DID MUSIC ONCE YOU HEARD THAT?
K: It changed the way we played.
IT OPENED YOUR MIND?
J: Yeah, it did, we started getting into listening to stuff from different moves. Instead of just going, 'Ho, we're going to play some metal now.'
K: When we started listening to punk stuff then we started listening to other things too--I hate to say this but, The Police, or...
J: Kirk listens to the Police. (laughs)
WHY DO YOU HATE TO SAY IT, ARE YOU EMBARRASSED?
K: No, I'm not really embarrassed, it's just that a lot of people won't understand that. What I'm trying to say is that we started listening to music other than heavy metal, we broadened our musical horizons.
UP UNTIL THAT TIME YOU WERE LISTENING TO METAL-TYPE BANDS?
J: The metal scene was so small back then that everyone was just fighting for metal. There were hardly any bands, so we had to make a mark.
DID YOU LISTEN TO WHAT THE PUNK BANDS WERE SAYING OR JUST THEIR RIFFS?
K: Everything. It all helped.
J: It opened up a lot of shit. It gave us, I think, some more heavy topics to write about.
K: It was a truer gut feeling I think, on James' behalf.
OBVIOUSLY THERE WAS A CHANGE BETWEEN "KILL 'EM ALL" AND "FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE," IN WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO SAY.
J: Yeah. Plus, all that stuff on "Kill 'Em All" was written so far back. We had a lot of time to explore new material.
"KILL 'EM ALL" WAS PRETTY RAW AND AGGRESSIVE. WHEN "RIDE THE LIGHTNING" CAME OUT IT WAS MORE POLISHED.
J: It was because we had more studio time. We were producing it. We had no experience whatsoever in the studio when we were recording "Kill 'Em All." Our so-called producer was sitting there playing with his dick, checking the songs off a notepad and saying, 'Well, we can go to a club tonight when we're through recording. Is the coffee ready?' He had nothing to say about any of the songs. I don't think he'd dare say anyway, because we'd have said, 'Fuck you, that's our song.' But production-wise, helping with sound or anything, he didn't contribute. So right away we had a bad reflection of what a producer was.
DID YOU CHOOSE THIS GUY AS A PRODUCER, OR WAS HE CHOSEN FOR YOU?
K: He was chosen by the record company and our then manager Kevin Seed.
SO YOU HAD A RUDE AWAKENING AS FAR AS PRODUCTION GOES?
J: Yeah, it was pretty brutal. Then next time we went in, to record "Ride The Lightning" we said, 'Fuck that, we're going to do it ourselves.'
WERE YOU ABLE TO PULL IT OFF?
K: We pulled it off. We had a good engineer.
J: We had a budget to stick to. It was fairly big but not enough to where we could go to the studio we wanted and get the producer we wanted. So we just said, 'We practically did the last album ourselves so let's just go with the best studio and get the best in house engineer.
K: ...Who knew the sounds, that was really important.
SO WHERE DID ELEKTRA COME FROM?
J: Down the street.
K: We changed management, and our new management thought that we should have a major record company behind us.
AND HE KNEW HOW TO DO THAT?
K: He had a reputation in the business for knowing what he was doing. Anyway, he thought that we should have a major record deal, so the word was out that Metallica was looking for a major record deal and we had about three or four different companies wanting to sign us.
J: Pusmort, or some shitty thing like that. (laughs)
K: We looked at each one individually and it seemed from what we saw that Elektra was better. Even though other offers were financially better, Elektra had a reputation of leaving complete artistic freedom with their acts. They had acts in the past, like the Doors, the Velvet Underground, the Stooges...it was a pretty liberal label. The had a reputation for trying out new things that were pretty experimental at the time.
J: Right then there were hella bands being signed, snatched up on major labels. All the major labels were saying, 'Oh, metal's like the new thing, get in on the money right now.' They're still doing it. Elektra only had Motley Crue and Dokken and all these other labels had many more. We'd be say third on the list of so-called metal bands with Elektra, so we'd get at least some support. Instead of signing with Atlantic where there were ten metal bands and we'd be hanging out somewhere waiting for our chunk of money when it came down. 'Here's a few bucks, go buy a hamburger, or whatever,' that type of thing. There wasn't a clutter of metal on that label so we figured we do something to get some support.
DID YOU GET ANY OF THIS "UNDERGROUND BAND SELLING OUT TO THE MAJORS" STUFF?
K: Yeah, we got that.
HOW DID THAT AFFECT YOU?
K: It didn't affect us at all. We basically didn't give a fuck. We were going to stick to our guns.
J: Some of the shows we're playing now people will come up to us and go, 'Hey, get me backstage and everything.' 'Sorry, man there's nothing I can do, it's really tight.' And they'll say, 'Oh, he's a rock star now.' You just want to... hey, man it's no rock star shit, it's just... you just find out who your friends are after awhile.
K: A lot of people just don't understand it. There's not enough room for everyone we've ever spoken to....
J: They try and throw a shitty guilt trip on you....
K: They just see the opportunity to like... 'Hey man, check it out, I know this guy in Metallica, I can do something good for myself. Since I know him I can get put on the guest list, get backstage and hang out with him.' What they're basically doing is trying to take advantage of you, and when you see that and say, 'No way man, you're just trying to take advantage,' they go for the predictable response of, 'Wow, he's a rock star, he doesn't have the time of day. He's too big for his friends, he doesn't know who his friends are....' If they really knew you they wouldn't say shit like that, they would understand it.
J: Then there's people who say, 'Yeah, they're a popular band and now I don't like them.'
DO THOSE NEGATIVE FEELINGS THAT PEOPLE HAVE BOTHER YOU?
J: A little bit, yeah. It makes them look bad.
I NOTICED THE OTHER NIGHT, WHEN THE SHOW WAS OVER, BOTH OF YOU GUYS HOPPED OFF THE STAGE INTO THE PHOTO PIT AND WENT THROUGH SHAKING PEOPLE'S HANDS...
J: Yeah, since we can't flip out into the crowd anymore. Maybe we'll do that when we headline again. But during the Ozzy support thing it's too brutal. Ozzy's people... I mean, if I jumped into the crowd they'd freak...
YOU'RE WALKING ON THE SUCCESS OF A NEW RECORD AND IT'S LIKE EVERYWHERE YOU SEE, 'HERE'S ONE OF THE GUYS IN THE BAND AND HERE'S THE BAND.' HOW DO YOU GUYS SEE YOURSELVES NOW?
J: All of these people tell us, 'Wow, we don't like you anymore because you're not an underground band, so automatically you guys are shitty because you're popular and on a major label and have some money.' Which is bullshit, because we'd be doing the same shit if we were still hanging out with Megaforce. Writing the same material and hanging out with the same people. They'd probably think it was great if we were still with them. Elektra hasn't said one fucking word to us about the songs we've written except, 'We like 'em.'
DOES THE PRODUCER YOU HAVE IN THERE WITH YOU SAY ANYTHING?
K: We're the producers.
ON THE RECORD YOU HAVE... WHO'S FLEMING RASMUSSEN?
K: He's the engineer who helped us out with production. He doesn't write the songs. He didn't mess around with any of the song writing at all.
J: He didn't say, 'Slow down it sounds muddy.' He'd go, 'Okay, it's muddy, let's clean up the sound a bit.'
ONE THING I CAN'T UNDERSTAND IS WHY YOU WENT TO DENMARK FOR FOUR MONTHS TO MAKE A RECORD. DOES IT REALLY TAKE THAT LONG?
J: Sometimes it does....
K: You have to live with it, and that's brutal. If you make mistakes in the studio and it goes to vinyl, you have to live with that mistake for the next year and a half to two years. We just don't want to do that.
J: It wasn't that we were making mistakes and shit in the studio, it was getting sounds together. Lars was being way too fucking picky. Like, the snare would always be going out of tune, this much out of tune, 'Okay hold on,' so he'd bang for another hour tuning the snare and then go in and bash.
DO YOU GUYS EACH DO YOUR PIECES ON YOUR OWN, OR DO YOU GO IN AND DO BASIC LIVE?
J: Me and Lars will just go in and play it.
SO YOU DON'T DO A BASIC LIVE TRACK? WHEN YOU GO INTO THE STUDIO FROM PRACTICE YOU JUST PLAY THE GUITAR TRACK AND EVERYONE ELSE KNOWS WHERE TO COME IN?
HOW MANY TRACKS ARE YOU RECORDING?
J: Depends on the song. I think the most was fifty-two.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH FIFTY-TWO TRACKS?
J: Back-up vocals, dub overs...
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU OVER-DUB YOUR VOCALS?
J: The main vocal verse is doubled, I double it.
HOW MANY TRACKS ARE THERE WITH GUITARS?
J: Most of the songs had three.
THREE FOR EACH OF YOU?
J: I do all of the rhythms in the studio.
K: It's tighter that way.
J: I did most of the songs with three rhythm tracks. One on each side and one down the middle. Some of the other songs, like "Battery" or "Damage," it got a bit too muddy so it was just the two.
K: We're giving away studio secrets here.
J: Uh oh, erase. (laughs)
IT'S JUST KIND OF FUNNY, I SAW YOU BEFORE YOU WENT TO DENMARK, YOU WERE GONE ALL THIS TIME, AND THEN YOU COME BACK, 'IT'S NOT ALL DONE YET, WE HAVE TO GO MIX.' IT'S LIKE, WHAT HAVE THESE GUYS BEEN DOING?
J: Drinking beer.
K: We played a lot of poker in the studio, too.
BEING IN A STUDIO, BEING CRAMPED UP IN THOSE KIND OF QUARTERS, HAVING HEAD- PHONES ON AND LISTENING TO THE SAME THINGS, EIGHT SONGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN CAN DRIVE YOU UP A WALL. I MEAN, THERE'S A HIGH LEVEL OF PROFESSIONALISM THERE, BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING FOR THE PERFECT ANGLE, BUT IT CAN BE NERVE-RACKING.
J: It was.
HOW COME YOU GUYS DIDN'T BREAK UP?
J: Oh, we did. About ten times... a day. Things towards the end got kind of, 'Ugh, I want to kill somebody.'
K: The tension was there, it was heavy tension. A lot of arguing, but that comes with the territory.
J: I know next album we're not going to spend that much time.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY THE RECORD TURNED OUT?
K: Well, you're happy with it to a point, and then you think, well I could have done that better still.
J: You always think that.
IS THERE A CRITICAL DEGREE YOU GUYS HAVE WHERE YOU HEAR CERTAIN THINGS YOU DON'T LIKE, THAT NOBODY ELSE WILL EVER HEAR, IT'S JUST YOUR PERSONAL THING?
J: Yeah, after awhile it's pretty cool. 'People, check it out, right here I fucked up.' And they go, 'Where?'. Ha-ha, you don't know.
K: Exactly, it's like find the hidden pictures.
J: They've heard it that way so they don't know it's a mistake. You've gotta have that... if it's perfect all the way through it's no fun.
K: There are mistakes on the album, but like I said, find the hidden picture.
J: Def Leppard... two years in the studio or whatever it is.
THEY'RE STILL IN IT AREN'T THEY?
K: Yeah, still in it.
THAT'S YOUR MANAGEMENT'S OTHER BAND?
SO NEXT RECORD FOR METALLICA, TWO YEARS IN THE STUDIO, HUH?
J: At least, we're going to try and beat them.
K: We're going for three.
PUSHEAD: SO THE NEW RECORD "MASTER OF PUPPETS," IS OUT AND IT'S PRETTY CLOSE TO A GOLD RECORD AT THIS POINT, WHAT DO YOU GUYS THINK OF THAT?
James: I'll stick it up in my storage
Kirk: I'll give mine to my mom.
YOU COULD SELL IT AND BUY AN APARTMENT FOR A COUPLE OF MONTHS. THAT'S THE WEIRDEST THING, HERE YOU GUYS ARE, RIDING ON A SUCCESS, RIGHT? YOU'RE ON A SUCCESSFUL TOUR, YOU HAVE A SUCCESSFUL ALBUM, EVERYTHING'S DOING WELL AND YOU DON'T EVEN HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE.
WILL YOU EVER?
J: I don't know.
K: I need a place to store my comic books when I'm out on the road.
J: We've got some stuff, I've got a bed and all that crap, it's just in storage It sucks. I've got an address where I can get mail.
AND YOU GUYS ARE ON ALLOWANCES AND STUFF LIKE THAT?
K: Yeah, we have accountants. Now I get to buy the comics I've been wanting since I was a little kid. I can pay more attention now to my hobbies. When I was younger, I was always into comics and I never had enough money to buy Fantastic Four number 1, which I just got today, because of the cost.
BUT ISN'T THE PRICE MORE NOW THAN IT WAS THEN?
K: Yeah, but when you think about it it's pretty much the same price--what was a quarter back then is a dollar now, it's still at the same distance
ARE YOU BUYING THESE AS AN INVESTMENT?
K: Sure, they're a good investment and I do buy certain comics as investments, but I'm not into this hobby just to make money. That sucks, that's more like a broker or something. I don't buy it as much for the monetary value, though, as I do for just sentimental reasons and from a collector's point of view.
J: I've got two Dennis The Menace that HE gave me I'm going to save them forever.
WHAT IS YOUR REASON FOR GETTING INTO THE COMICS, JAPANESE TOYS AND THE HORROR STUFF?
K: The reason I buy toys and stuff is it's good plain fun. I'll admit it, I used to spend a lot of money on drugs at one point.
J: Yeah, why?
K: Because I thought maybe drugs were fun...
K: Until drugs all of the sudden weren't very fun at all...
K: And it was like a huge illusion. And I thought drugs brought me a certain kind of joy...
K: But, they don't... shut up, James... they stopped bringing me a lot of joy. And around the same time I was buying comics and toys and they were bringing me a lot of, for want of a better word... fun. It's healthier for me and I have something to show for it.
J: Do you think comics saved you from drugs? Spiderman saved me, dude(laughs)
K: I've talked to friends who have made a lot of money and asked themselves, 'Where has all my money gone?,' and the answer was always, 'Well, it all went into drugs and booze and such.' And I asked myself that same question and I have something to show for it, my money went into toys and comics and I got a lot of fun out of it and I'm a lot healthier to boot. They can still bring me a lot of fun.
J: What about comic books about drugs?
K: Those are the best ones.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE GROWING TREND OF OLDER PEOPLE WHO ARE INVOLVED IN SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE SAY IS FOR LITTLE KIDS?
K: A lot of people make the association of comics and toys with youth. They put two and two together, when I was younger I played with toys and they were a lot of fun. But, why should anyone say that should end because you're older? There's absolutely no reason why that should end. I mean, it might appear to be an immature kind of thing to do, but if you think about it, what's so immature about wanting to have fun? People still go to the movies to have fun. It's just another form of play.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU HAVE AN ADDICTIVE HOBBY?
K: To obtain the unobtainable is a real rush in itself, like to see something in a magazine and go, 'Wow, I'd really like to have this...'
WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING ARE YOU PERFORMING A LITTLE BETTER BECAUSE YOU HAVE OTHER GOALS THAT YOU CAN ACCOMPLISH WITH THAT?
K: The musicianship is an entirely different thing altogether. The music comes first and any sort of thing on the side I think of a lot farther down the line I don't go into studio thinking, well, you know, we're going to have to write some great songs so I can buy some great comic books. It does keep everything together because I have a more sound mind and a healthier attitude toward the lifestyle in general. Of course, if my hobby was to get totally screwed up every night and blow my brains out every night, I'd be a crash and burn individual. If my hobby is to collect comic books and have a real sound mind, doing better in health... comic books are inspiring to me There are a lot of ideas that I can find in comic books that I can interpret through music. It's just better in the overall picture to be able to think clearly and to relate my music better. It's real complicated, I never really looked at it like that before
K: Yeah, you could call it an escape It's hard to say whether I really needed an escape I didn't really watch a lot of TV. I wasn't a TV kid, I was more of a comic book kid. You know, you get TV kids and comic book kids. It's as much of an escape as television. Everyone needs that sort of entertainment. I collected that stuff for a long time and then I bought a guitar and got totally obsessed with playing guitar. I kind of backed-down on the comics and played the guitar a lot.
AND NOW THE TWO HOBBIES HAVE KIND OF MATCHED...
K: Yeah, they've come back together, because while I was playing guitar I would walk into a comic book store and see comics that I used to have and say, 'wow, I used to have that,' and I slowly came to realize that I still wanted it so I got back into collecting comics and collecting the things I like the most which are the horror comics. The EC's and Famous Monsters and just the whole horror genre in particular. When I was even younger, I was a big fan of Walt Disney.
IS THERE ANYTHING NEW THAT YOU LIKE OR IS ONLY THE OLDER STUFF GOOD?
K: A lot of the new stuff is real good too. There's a lot more violence in comics now...
IS THAT GOOD OR BAD?
K: I think it's great. It's entertaining. It's making comic books more interesting, because back when I was reading comic books there was a comics code, which is like the equivalent of like a PG rating at a movie The underground comics were a lot more lenient and underground comics are more like an R-rated movie Let's face it, most of the time an R-rated movie is better than a PG-rated movie There's a lot of good stuff out there nowadays, like Mr. Monster, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And there's other stuff like Dark Knight. It's really good because it puts Batman in a more realistic setting. It's Batman, he's middle-aged, he's retiring and he's freaking out because his profession of stopping crime is turning him into a loony case It is like a social statement because he is becoming what he once chased after... you could relate that to something like a song like "Sanitarium"....
METALLICA, IS PLAYING A QUICKER, RAW BUT POLISHED SOUND THAT MOST PEOPLE SAY IS A VIOLENT TYPE OF MUSIC. DO YOU THINK THAT'S THE WAY THE WORLD IS HAPPENING? ARE YOU GUYS REALLY SCREAMING AT PEOPLE, SAYING, 'LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENING.'?
K: Yeah, I think you've got a point there People can relate to that because it's more like the world as it really is. I mean, let's face it, the world is not a pretty place The world is pretty sick. There's a lot of ugly things out there and no matter how much you try and escape you always have to wake up and face the fact that the world is fucked-up and ugly.
IS THAT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO TELL PEOPLE IN YOUR MUSIC?
J: Hell no. I don't want to tell people what to do because I hate people telling me what to do....
YOU GUYS ARE NOW IN A POSITION WHERE SOME PEOPLE TAKE WHATEVER YOU SAY LITERALLY, THEY CAN EVEN TAKE IT THE WRONG WAY.
J: Yeah, a lot.
K: It's happened in the past, people have taken us wrong.
J: And then that's what gives the band a bad reputation. It's utter bullshit.
K: When we're taken wrong and bad things happen, like people get hurt, there's other people who are quick to bring blame, even though it's a personal motivation on that person's part. The person takes us wrong and brings harm to other people for whatever reason. That's fucked up, because a lot of the times it's the person themselves and not us who are really saying the wrong things.
J: All these freak people are trying to build in this huge symbolism between the music they listen to and the lyrics and why they did this...the lyrics I write I write pretty much for myself. I'm not telling people how to think. Like, 'If you don't believe the way I do then you're not a real Metallica fan,' or some shit like that.
YOU'RE JUST PUTTING OUT AN OPINION...
J: My opinion.
THEN DOES THE WHOLE BAND AGREE WITH YOUR OPINION?
K: I do. I feel that we pretty much stand behind anything he has to say. If we didn't stand behind it we would let him know that in advance So far we haven't so we pretty much stand behind everything James says.
J: We talk about topics, concepts...
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE SUCCESS THAT YOU HAVE FROM WHAT YOU'RE DOING?
J: We're doing it our way, we've always wanted to do it our way, I'm happy with it. We haven't had to conform to any certain standards, record companies or whoever else wants us to do it. They haven't molded us a certain way, we did it all ourselves and that's great. I used to think back, and go, 'Oh my God, I saw us in Circus or Hit Parader or I saw us in that magazine, oh shit, I hate it.'
WHY DID YOU HATE IT?
J: Because it's so widespread, people see you in the magazine, 'Oh wow another band blowing it.' But we're doing it our way. We're saying what we want to say in interviews and they're not twisting the shit around.
DO YOU THINK YOU'LL COME TO A POINT WHERE YOU HAVE TO WRITE A RADIO HIT, OR YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO MAKE A VIDEO?
K: If it happens, it happens by accident.
J: No. We're not worried about that. You start thinking too far ahead and you start fucking yourself up.
K: I don't think we've ever regretted anything we've done
I GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO GO WITH YOU GUYS ON THE BUS, YOU HAVE ALL THESE PEOPLE RUNNING ALL THIS STUFF AND YOU GUYS DON'T EVEN HAVE TO TALK TO THEM BECAUSE YOU TRUST THEM TO DO THIS OR THAT, THEN YOU GET TO THE ARENA AND YOU AND KIRK GO TO THE CLOSET, GRAB YOUR SKATEBOARDS AND HOP OUT AND YOU TAKE OFF. IS THAT LIKE A RELEASE FOR YOU GUYS?
J: There's nothing else to do. Our guys are setting up our shit and...
K: The thing with all these people is, we work with them. Those people don't work for us, they work with us. We're all like a huge bunch of family.
J: We all travel together.
K: We're like a gang. They have their jobs, we have our jobs. Our jobs don't start until 7:30 or so, so we just wait around, skate..
IS BEING ON TOUR BORING?
K: A lot of the times.
J: It depends on where you are, but with a skate, if you're bored you've always got something to do.
SO THE TWO OF YOU GOT STARTED SKATEBOARDING THROUGH BOREDOMN ON TOUR?
K: It just seemed like a real good idea.
J: It's just kind of so we can flip away from all the hectic shit for awhile
DO YOU GET ANY HASSLES OR ANYTHING WHEN YOU'RE SKATING?
K: Yeah, I get hassled by security guards but I just go on.
DO THEY REALIZE YOU GUYS ARE THE BAND OR DO THEY THINK YOU'RE SOME LITTLE ROADIE?
J: No way, hell no. They just think we're freaks coming to watch the shows.
K: I just go to another floor and skate Fuck that.
SO ARE YOU HAVING A GOOD TIME SKATING WHEN YOU'RE AT THESE ARENAS?
J: Hell yeah.
K: The polished floors are really cool.
J: Well, it's best when there's no seats. A lot of the places have got seats.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THIS SKATING THING?
J: Wanted something to do on tour, because there was a lot of idle time when we're not doing anything. And I don't drink as much as I used to so it mellows me
IS THAT GOOD OR BAD?
J: I think it's good.
YOU GOT HURT ONCE DIDN'T YOU?
J: There was a couple of shows where I had to have my ankle taped up. For like a week. It was banged up and twisted and...
SINCE YOU GUYS HAVE STARTED THIS TOUR WITH OZZY, YOU'VE GOT A LITTLE FAMILY OF SKATEBOARDING HAPPENING ON THIS BIG TOUR, CORRECT?
K: Yeah, some people on Ozzy's crew and Ozzy's band.
J: Yeah, guitarist Jake and his roadie are skating together now too. They saw us with our boards and go, 'hey, fuck yeah, that's a good idea.'
AND THE MANAGEMENT'S NOT GIVING YOU ANY HASSLES BECAUSE YOU'RE VALUABLE?
J: We told the management, 'hey, look we're thinking about taking boards out on tour'...I thought he was going to go, 'oh shit, no way, you can't.' He just said, 'well, you break something, you still play.'
K: Yeah, 'You break a leg on your skateboard you play on stage with a broken leg.'
YOU GUYS HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO ADMIRE THE MISFITS.
K: Hi Glenn. Fuck yeah.
AND YOU'RE GOING TO DO A COVER OF ONE OF THEIR SONGS, THAT'S WHAT THE WORD IS...
K: Yep. This is true They're great.
WHAT GOT YOU INTO THE MISFITS? DOES IT GO WITH THE PUNK THING?
J: Cliff turned us on to them.
J: All of his friends were into them and he taped some stuff from his friends.
K: It just grew on us and we started listening to it a lot. I like the Misfits. I liked the songs and then I saw pictures of them and went, 'Wow, this is cool.' The imagery that they used was like some of the stuff I've seen in old horror comics.
JAMES, WHAT ARE YOU INTO, BESIDES TV?
J: Live comedy. I'm into the Bobcat (Bob Goldthwait) and Sam Kinnison.
K: Cliff's into Dawn of the Dead type stuff, stuff like that.
HOW COME YOU DON'T HAVE COSTUMES?
J: Yeah, we still haven't got our costumes back yet. Ozzy said we couldn't wear them. We've got our red, white and blue sparkly suits. (laughs)
WHERE'S THE MAKE-UP AND THE STUDS?
K: They got rusty and fell off because we sweat too much.
YOU HAVE A WHOLE CONCEPT BEHIND "MASTER OF PUPPETS", RIGHT, IS THAT WHY YOU HAVE THE CROSSES AND THE WHOLE THING ON STAGE?
J: Yeah, I think it's cool, something new. Last year we had our stacks...We're supposed to be playing in the Aldacomet or whatever.
K: It kind of helps the concept of the album too.
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF THE ALBUM?
K: Manipulation. Various forms of manipulation, which can go into entirely a different subjects which we could talk about for hours.
WHY ARE YOU SAYING "MASTER OF PUPPETS"? IS IT SOMETHING THAT YOU'VE FELT HAS BEEN DONE TO YOU OR THAT YOU SEE BEING DONE TO YOUR FRIENDS?
J: Nah, I see it done to different people Some of the stuff...well "Master of Puppets" deals pretty much with drugs. How things get switched around, instead of you controlling what you're taking and doing it's drugs controlling you. Like, I went to a party here in S.F., there were all these freaks shooting up and geezin' and this other girl was real sick.
DOES THAT SCARE YOU?
J: Yeah, hella.
ARE YOU GUYS GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE YOU'RE BECOMING AN ANTI-DRUG BAND?
J: No, because we don't want to tell anyone what to do. If people are into it that's cool, they wouldn't mind about the subject we're talking about. I was at that party and it freaked me out and I'm hella paranoid.
K: We run into a lot of freaks on the road messed-up on drugs, all the time
J: That's what happened at the last show...
K: Yeah, someone O.D.ed at the L.A. show.
J: Three people died.
BUT THAT'S NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY THOUGH...
J: 'Oh, of course it is,' all the mom's say.
K: The P.M.R.C., they don't know about it yet, but if they did know about it they'd raise a fucking all-holy ruckus.
J: "Leper Messiah" deals with how people bow to TV preachers and send all their money away... it's just that we're aware of the fact that shit like this happens.
WHAT'S THE FEELING FOR YOU GUYS WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING LIVE?
K: It's a lot of fun. Just go out there and bash it out, you know, have a lot of fun while we're doing it and if other people dig it, cool.
EVEN WHEN YOU'RE PLAYING THE SAME SONG EVERY NIGHT?
K: Yeah, we still get into it.
J: It's a different feeling every night, different people there It's cool to freak people out too. A lot of people will be sitting there and don't know what the hell... and you just go over and throw a beer on them. And then they go, 'Oh my God, you're gettin' out of control.' Some people who come to gigs are so lame They sit there, they pay all this money to get front row, 'Yeah!,' and they sit down. Like man, what the fuck.
YOU GET NERVOUS UP THERE IN FRONT OF A CROWD?
J: I get nervous every night. Before I go on I feel like barfing my guts out. Not nervous really, just a kind of excitement. Like, 'Oh my God, I'm going to forget this, I'm going to forget the lyrics, I'm going to forget how to play guitar...'
K: Yeah, I'd say it's adrenaline that's building up, a lot of it's nervous energy.
WELL, HERE YOU ARE PLAYING FOR A CROWD OF LIKE 20,000...
J: I don't even think of that. I don't think, 'Oh God, how many people are going to be here tonight?' I just go out there and play.
K: When you go out there and bash it out it brings up a rush of adrenaline Adrenaline is flowing and along with that is a touch of nervous energy. The adrenaline like totally takes over when you get up on stage and start playing and having a lot of fun. Then you forget the nervous energy. But I get nervous...
DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT THEY SIT THERE? ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO AMP OUT?
J: Not really, I like watching that though. It's kind of hard for kids to get a huge pit going when there's all these chairs happening. Kids have fun their own way. That's the way I have fun, so maybe they do it my way. You know, you gotta have some fun. A lot of time they're just sitting there having fun their way, you don't realize that's how they have fun. But, we're not out there goin, 'OK, everybody, give me your cigarette lighters, everybody go like this.'
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE OR ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD TELL PEOPLE?
K: Be honest with yourself.
J: Honest. Get some originality happening and be aware of certain positions you could get stuck into as far as management and record companies.
K: Be aware of the fact that it is a business and you have to have a business-like attitude, because people will fuck you up any chance they get.
LIKE PEOPLE USING YOU?
J: I hate the business side of it all. I go to all of our band meetings or wherever and end up falling asleep.
K: I do too, I have a lot of contempt for it. You really have to pay attention whether you like it or not. There has to be someone in the band who is aware of what can happen and what is happening all the time It's really easy to get fucked over. So easy.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT JAMES AND KIRK HAVE TO SAY FOR METALLICA?
K: Don't lie to yourself. Don't try to be something you're not.
J: Hey, I'm eight feet tall.
K: No you're not.
J: People have to be confident in what they're doing, if they're not then people will step all over them. Confidence in yourself.
IS IT HARD TO SOMETIMES REALIZE THAT YOU GUYS ARE BEING USED?
J: I get pissed-off once in awhile listening to bootleggers out there I
almost fucking slammed one of them, then I realized, shit, I might get arrested
and then I can't play the show. Yeah, you gotta think ahead...at least one