James Hetfield: Lou Reed taught Metallica to trust ourselves

Lou Reed and Metallica
Reed and Metallica in 2011

James Hetfield says the late Lou Reed taught Metallica to trust themselves when it came to making latest album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct.

Lars Ulrich recently told how 2011 collaborative title Lulu, which remains controversial, offered the band a new perspective on their own creative process.

Now Hetfield tells Metallica fan club magazine So What!: “Having the honour of Lou Reed in our studio, steering the ship and how he worked. He was a true artist.

“That moment happened, we recorded it, he wasn’t doing it again – ‘I don’t think I could do it again, and if I could it’s just going to be confusing. I’ve done it.’”

The frontman says Reed believed in “trusting your craft” and “trusting the moment” and adds: “You can get very analytical, pathologise everything that happens all the time. but that’s what makes art art.

“If you’re the creator, then when you say you’re done, you’re done.”

As a result of learning that lesson, Hetfield says he and Ulrich are prepared to be more experimental in the studio. “I don’t like the word ‘jamming’ – but creating together and seeing what happens? There was not a lot of that in Metallica until Lulu showed up,” he reports.

Asked about the creative balance in the band, after he and Ulrich led the development of Hardwired To Self-Destruct, he replies: “I would say that, between the four of us, there’s an understanding that Lars and I have shared the steering wheel since day one on this. Why deny that? Wy try to chance that? Accept and embrace it, and try new things.

“We’re out for the best songs. We’re not trying to be all-inclusive, where everyone’s got to feel good.”

But he continues: “I wouldn’t read into that too much about the contribution. There are times when someone’s more creative than the other person. It’s always been the best it can be for Metallica.”

Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is the band’s sixth chart-topping release in a row. It achieved the highest first-week sales figures of any rock album in the past three years, and the third-highest debut week figures of all album in the US this year. It hit the number one spot in the US and many other countries around the world – although not in the UK, where pop group Little Mix’s Glory Days forced the band into second position.

Metallica continue to add dates to their WorldWired tour, which is expected to run for at least two years. They’re the cover stars of the latest edition of Metal Hammer, on sale now in print and via TeamRock+.

Hetfield still proud of Lulu

Metallica tour dates 2016-17 so far

Nov 29: Toronto Opera House, Canada
Dec 17: Oakland Fox Theater, CA
Jan 11: Seoul Gocheok Sky Dome, South Korea
Jan 18: Beijing Le Sports Centre, China
Jan 20: Hong Kong AsiaWorld-Expo, China
Jan 22: Singapore Indoor Stadium, Singapore
Feb 03: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 05: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 07: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 09: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Mar 01: Mexico City Foro Sol, Mexico
Mar 03: Mexico City Foro Sol, Mexico
Mar 25: Sao Paulo Interlagos Racetrack, Brazil
Mar 31-Apr 01: Buenos Aires Hippodrome San Isidro, Argentina
Apr 01-02: Santiago Parque O’Higgins, Chile

Metallica’s Hardwired… To Self-Destruct: vote for your favourite track

Freelance Online News Contributor

Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.