Skip to main content

Hetfield asked how to sing like Chris Isaak

James Hetfield asked how to sing like pop star Chris Isaak before recording the iconic Black Album, producer Bob Rock has recalled.

The frontman had been inspired by Isaak’s trademark hit Wicked Game, and wanted to match the vocal emotion in his own performances.

Rock tells Talk Is Jericho: “He said, ‘Bob, I’ve never really sung before – I’ve just kind of yelled.’ He played me a Chris Isaak record and said, ‘On Nothing Else Matters and The Unforgiven, I want to sing. How do you sing like this?’”

The solution was “a great vocal sound” so that Hetfield didn’t have to double-track, the producer explains.

“I said, ‘What you hear in Chris Isaak’s voice is the nuances when he sings. He isn’t doubled, he’s actually performing. You perform.’

“We set it up so he had a great sound and then he sang. Every day he got better and he got comfortable with it. He became a great singer.”

Metallica’s Black Album, launched in 1991, remains their biggest-selling release. They’re currently working on the follow-up to 2008’s Death Magnetic – despite guitarist Kirk Hammett losing 250 riffs for the project. They return to the UK to headline the Reading and Leeds festivals in August.

Martin Kielty

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 (opens in new tab), a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories (opens in new tab) 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.