From Master of Puppets to the masters of moppets.
The four horsemen of speed-metal titans Metallica have grown a lot since we last heard from them — as have their families.
Metallica is a band of fathers now,” laughs lead guitarist Kirk Hammett in good-natured disbelief, speaking from the band’s HQ in San Rafael, Calif. It’s not so much about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll as it is about school, diapers and rock ‘n’ roll.”
No kidding. Three of Metallica’s members — outspoken drummer Lars Ulrich, 45-year-old Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo, the newest recruit — either started or expanded their clans in the past few years, closing the gap with singer-guitarist James Hetfield, who has three school-age kids.
But even though they’re more concerned with being good fathers than bad mothers these days, Metallica haven’t totally forgotten their wild youth. Their latest offspring, the Rick Rubin-produced studio album Death Magnetic finds the band rejuvenated and reconnecting with the sprawling, dynamic complexity of their ’80s glory days.
Critics and fans are already hailing it as a welcome return to form after the dark days of 2003’s raw, polarizing and solo-free CD St. Anger– not to mention the cringe-inducing documentary Some Kind of Monster, which showed the band coming apart at the seams amid personnel changes, personality clashes, group therapy and Hetfield’s struggles with substance abuse and rehab.
In Metallica’s only interview with a Canadian English-language newspaper, we chatted with the easygoing and surprisingly frank Hammett about the long road back, how fatherhood rocks his world and what it’s like to be stuck between two of the biggest egos in rock.