James Hetfield: I wasn’t 100% into Metallica’s Load and Reload era

James Hetfield in 1996
James Hetfield in 1996 (Image credit: Getty)

Metallica vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield has admitted that he wasn’t “100%” into the band’s Load and Reload era in the mid-90s.

He reports that the material was the vision of drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett and he went along with them because being willing to compromise is part of being in a band.

And reflecting on the records, which were released in 1996 and 1997 respectively, Hetfield says that although they “didn’t pan out as good as I was hoping” he has no regrets.

When asked if he thought compromises have to made from time to time to be accepted by the mainstream, Hetfield tells Clash magazine: “It is interesting, because we have created our own mainstream, is what I believe.

“We’ve been extremely honest with ourselves, including the compromising part. There always has to be some kind of compromise – especially when you’ve got four guys in a band. You’ve got two guys that are really driving the thing – Lars and myself – and when we don’t agree, there has to be a compromise.

“But, as far as doing something that doesn’t feel right, I’m sure there’s been a few times that it’s happened. The Load and Reload era, for me, was one of those. The way that was looking, I wasn’t 100% on with it, but I would say that that was a compromise.

“I said, ‘I’m going with Lars’ and Kirk’s vision on this. You guys are extremely passionate about this, so I’ll jump on board, because if the four of us are into it, it’s going to be better.’ So I did my best with it, and it didn’t pan out as good as I was hoping, but, again, there’s no regrets, because at the time it felt like the right thing to do.”

Hetfield says he’s willing to compromise “for the integrity of the band to go forward” but adds: “As far as the mainstream goes, I think we’ve been so honest and open about what we want and what we don’t want.

“This is our fucking party. You’re invited! Everyone’s invited!”

Metallica will head out on the next leg of their WorldWired tour in support of their latest album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct early in the new year. Find a list of their 2018 tour dates below.

Metallica 2018 WorldWired tour dates

Feb 01: Lisbon MEO Arena, Portugal
Feb 03: Madrid Wizink Center, Spain
Feb 05: Madrid Wizink Center, Spain
Feb 07: Barcelona Palau Sant Jordi, Spain
Feb 10: Turin Pala Alpitour, Italy
Feb 12: Bologna Unipol Arena, Italy
Feb 14: Bologna Unipol Arena, Italy
Feb 16: Mannheim SAP Arena, Germany
Mar 27: Herning Jyske Bank Boxen, Denmark
Mar 29: Hamburg Barclaycard Arena, Germamny
Mar 31: Vienna Wiener Stadthalle, Austria
Apr 02: Prague O2 Arena, Czech Republic
Apr 05: Budapest Sports Arena, Hungary
Arp 07: Stuttgart Schleyerhalle, Germany
Arp 09: Stuttgart Schleyerhalle, Germany
Apr 11: Geneva Palexpo, Switzerland
Apr 26: Munich Olympiahalle, Germany
Apr 28: Krakow Tauron Arena, Poland
Apr 30: Leipzig Arena, Germany
May 02: Oslo Telenor Arena, Norway
May 05: Stockholm Ericsson Globe, Sweden
May 07: Stockholm Ericsson Globe, Sweden
May 09: Helsinki Hartwall Arena, Finland
May 11: Helsinki Hartwall Arena, Finland

The A-Z Of Metallica

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.