Hetfield: 'Some Bands Have To Die'

The Metallica frontman says there are too many rock bands, but the strong will survive and keep the genre alive. Is he right?

Ultimate Guitar

James Hetfield says the lull in rock popularity is all part of natural selection, and in the end the strong acts will survive.

The Metallica guitarist explained his Darwinian view of the music business at a press event for their Orion Music Festival when he was asked if rock is dead.

He said (via Ultimate Classic Rock):

"[Rock] dying and popularity are two different things. If it's not popular, fine. I kinda like it that way".

"I love being the underdog. I love being the thing that's not liked. I love to build it up again. That's part of the mission in life for me." A fitting comment, considering their unpopular "Lulu" collaboration with Lou Reed last year.

"There's too many bands out there. Some have to die off so the strong survive."

Meanwhile, a stream of Metallica covering the Deep Purple song "When A Blind Man Cries" for "Re-Machined: A Tribute To Machine Head" has been posted online:

YouTube preview picture

Do you agree that a lot of bands need to die off? What do you think of the Deep Purple cover? Let us know in the comments.

172 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "I love being the underdog." But you're one of the biggest artists of all time?
    I think he's refering to the genre more than Metallica. At least in my case, an example could be that every time I've attempted to put on metal at private parties instead of electronic music(which honestly drives me insane), the response will be overtly negative, and in that way I in conjunction to my music feel like an underdog.
    haha i can get away with blasting metallica at the parties i go too
    How did they start? Amidst Hair Metal, which was popular because, while played in heavier ways, its' core was Pop. Thrash Metal was the opposite of that and making their way to the top wasn't easy.
    And what do you think got them to that point?
    My Last Words
    Dave Mustaine. Yeah bring on all the nega-votes!
    Niggadeth - P-ce Sellz, Yo... But Who'z Buyin That Shit, Bro?
    Captain Chaos
    Oh man I went to FYE about 3 years ago for peace sells and the black dude was is it spelled PISS sells and I couldn't stop laughing.
    Really? Mustaine got them to that point? Contributing to not even half of "Kill 'em All" and a 'whopping' 2 of 8 songs in "Ride the Lightning" got them that success and made them a household name? (which by the way, they weren't even on anyone's radar screen until at least "Master of Puppets" anyway!!!) GTFO!!! If anything, it's the other way around, as in, Mustaine/Megadeth wouldn't have 90% of the fans and success that they have if it weren't for Mustaine's "former lead guitarist of Metallica" label...otherwise they would have been just another Testament or Manowar!
    My Last Words
    Addition to my previous comment: Ah, so Marty Friedman/chris poland is just the lead guitarist from the band from that guy that used to be in metallica ?
    hey bro, its not like mustaine contributed anything to some of the best metal albums and songs released to date, then went on to create his own band that also released another thrash anthem.....oh wait....i think he did do that.
    I agree with you. Besides, Mustaine is a complete idiot nowadays...
    Dave helped them out and the one that we are really fogetting is Cliff Burton. Without them 2 guys James and Lars would be bagging my food at Walmart. I enjoy Hearing Megadeth play because Dave is a awesome player. You can tell he has something to prove and plus he was in the shadow of Metallica. Megadeth stayed aggressive Metallica went pop.
    Cliff set the standards for bass playing. There is a couple of bass players I know that can come close to Cliff. Flea and Les Claypool. Metallica knew if they didnt have Cliff in the band they wouldnt go anywhere. That is why they moved to San Francisco to get him in the band. All I can say is this. the first 3 disks Metallica put out were pure magic. After that they sucked and continue to. TO MY LAST WORDS Risk was suppose to be poppish remember that is why the disk was called Risk. He was taking a risk. Now I love his muisc more since Dave came back in to the Death fold.
    Flea and Les Claypool are the only other good bassists you've heard of? Oh, I get it. Your 14th birthday was last month. Well anyways, have a magical day.
    Hey i'm a guitar player not a basshead. Today bass players you can't hear them unless you crank the bass on youe stereo. Fles, Les, and Cliff their bass is out more. The only other bass player that you can hear is the guy from Korn
    Hey, Cliff Burton was great, but do you really think he was the factor keeping Metallica from bagging groceries? Come on people, you know Hetfield was the driving creative force for all their best stuff.
    Your on crack dude. Listen to anything that has Cliff on it. It's pure magic. Fade To Black, For Whom the Bells Tolls, Master Of Puppets, Orion, To Live is to Die, Creeping Death. The playing Call Of Ktulu. The add Mustaines The Four Horsemen, Jump in the Fire, Phantom Lord and Metal Militia on Kill'm All, Ride the Lightning and Of course Call Of Ktulu. So if these 2 guys werent in the Metallica would not be in the place they would be. Sorry that is my opinion and as a guitar player Dave is better than Kirk
    Yes. I'm on crack because I don't agree that the bass is the main reason those songs are excellent. Yeah, obviously the bass is incredible on the first three albums, but he didn't write the songs, he just added a layer to the awesomeness that would have been there regardless. If you really believe that early Metallica could not have succeeded without Cliff, then I would be checking you for crack, dude.
    You REALLY don't know what Cliff did for this band do you. The guy was more than their bassist, he was the only trained musician in the band besides Kirk, and he isn't a driving force besides solos on the albums. Cliff would literally re write and re define parts James came up with, and taught James most of the musical theory he knows. If you don't believe me, go read 'To Live is to Die' a biography on Cliff Burton. It's ALL stated in there in great detail. So, yes. James IS a driving force in this band, but those riffs, and those songs wouldn't come out nearly as musically articulate and strong as they did if Cliff wasn't around. Learn you facts before you decide to take sides sir.
    Well, I'm not a huge Metallica fan, but I do like the first three albums considerably more than the others. Whether Cliff was the primary factor in that, I don't know, but he was definitely a big one.
    Cliff did actually write a large part of the songs, especially most of to live is to die, the greatest metal song ever...but mustaine can suck a dick
    Yeah, well explains why they did Lulu, they just wanted to see if they could do something that would hurt their popularity and still keep on going
    Meh, that makes no sense at all. If you watch the interview video he said it in a funny way anyway, and came out of a another question we don't get to hear. The only problem with the enourmous amount of bands in the world is that we may reach a point where we write a riff and other 20 bands will write or already have written something really similar.
    "The Metallica guitarist explained his Darwinian view of the music business at a press event for their Orion Music Festival when he was asked if rock is dead. " Darwinian? Wonder if Dave Mustaine will "SLAM" James Hetfield in a new interview for referencing that heathen.
    some bad bands need to die. and other good bands with frequent lineup changes should die. megadeth for example. Im a huge megadeth fan and I know many people will bash and likely ill get thumbed down to hell but Ill explain my point. megadeth is barely a band. its 1 guy with 3 other disposable guys. a band should have an identity as a band. megadeth, sadly, has too many of those. at this point, megadeth would make more sense as a mustaine solo project with a touring lineup. another band I think should die is Sex Machineguns. youve likely never heard them. this band has made some of the best thrash style music Ive ever heard. but theyve had like 16 different members in the last 12 years. metallica is a good example of a band with its own identity. each member has a style that can be recognized throughout all of the metallica era, even trujillo has similar style to both previous bassists. this is a band that should still exist as long as they keep making good music and playing amazing gigs. this is just my opinion and not meant to bash anyone. just tired of seeing lineup changes in so many good bands. having to memorize lineup eras to a band isnt a good sign of a solid band.
    Veronique Vega
    Agreed. Megadeth had a really solid lineup in the early 90's, but after Menza and then Friedman left... MD45 ftw!
    ZOSO <(")
    megadeth is still one of my favorite bands. but i agree that they went don a couple notches when menza and friedman left
    To me, Megadeth is Megadeth as long as Ellefson's in, without him it's just Dave solo.
    Megadeth has two original members of four, why would they quit being Megadeth? Especially when "Megadeth" is a synonym for "Dave Mustaine". The fact is, line-up changes are not a bad thing. If you're making the same style of music, you're the same band. I think Metallica should have thrown in the towel around "Load" era and called themselves something else, because they weren't METAL anymore. Mustaine has been much more Metal throughout, and so Megadeth is still a name that implies the music that they play. New bands/New Names = New sound, NOT new line-up.
    We don't need LESS bands, we just need BETTER bands. So many people start bands in some half-assed attempt just to look cool and get laid. Thats fine and all, but Rock music wont be popular again until people stop simply milking the cliched personas, and actually focus on the music. Hole yourself up and hone your skills at your instrument and songwriting. Be creative and original.
    The 80's have come and passed, and don't consider any of this generic metalcore/ nu metal garbage rock. Have you heard Mastodon, or Baroness, or The Sword, or or or or or... Even At the Drive-In is back up and running. Dude, there's so many good damn bands it'll make you shit bricks. Nobody's wanting to go out and search for them because we've become apathetic to that process because of things now being more immediate, turning us lazier. And if you think about it, nobody wants to perpetuate Rock the way we want it to because we've been there, done that, and perfected it. They'd be held to standards way too high to reach again in that exact fashion, so they try something else; artists are being creative and original by taking aspects of what we want and making it there own. Don't get all romanticized, look towards the future with what we really have now. We have some major talent, and I think people have been too busy romanticizing the past to notice.
    New, good bands are hard to find though. I often go on YouTube and just look t what's popped up in my feed, and end up ten or twenty links down the line listening to a band I really like, having found some other good songs on the way. Good bands aren't hard to find, I just wish more people would go searching.
    "If its not popular, fine. I kinda like it that way" - I couldn't agree more. Even though I haven't been a huge fan of Metallica's music since the Black Album I think I'll always be a James Hetfield fan.
    There's two other factors Hetfield doesn't mention. One is the fact that media distribution is totally different than during Metallica's reign. You can buy a single song without having to buy the whole album now, stream a song on a program like spotify, or just watch it on you tube. an unsigned artist can net millions of views on the internet thereby creating a fan base from people all over the world before he or she is given any support by a record label but they might not be a household name. The 2nd thing is that genres' popularity are always in a state of flux. At one point in the US rock, rap, folk, country, jazz, blues, pop - all of them have had there stay at the top as the most popular genre of music. Now electronica is in the mix as well. Trends come and go all the time, between 10-20 years ago, boy bands were all the rage then they were hated on and now (unfortunately) they're making a comeback. Rock will be fine because the people who like it and want to play it won't let it fade away. If it's not the most popular genre now who cares? They had a good reign from the 60's, split time with disco in the 70's, were kings over new wave and fledgling rap in the 80's and was the sound of a disenfranchised youth in the 90's. Not a bad ride.
    bands who follow a trend should die!! be original,
    People who are saying Metallica should die have obviously never seen them perform live.
    'James Hetfield says the lull in rock popularity is all part of natural selection, and in the end the strong acts will survive.' Translation: 'Metallica have decided to call it a day.'
    also if you listen to some of the things going on harmonically and rhythmically you get about the closest thing you'll ever hear to metal music being played at a party, I think dubsteps is basically doing what metal was doing twenty years ago minus the "but look how much skill that takes to play" factor. and if anyone brings up how there's so much genericness in dubstep songs then compare some of your favourite 80s metal to the 70s progressive rock that inspired it, chugging on the low E string for five minutes isn't as creative as you think it is (sorry if I over generalized and there are plenty of exceptions but metal music as a whole could use a bit more harmonic variation.)
    Why all of the negative votes for comments about Metallica calling it quits? They have been around for over 30 years, and put out some amazing records. If they quit now, they would be leaving on a high note, kind of like REM did.
    I wouldn't really call Lulu a high note. Or actually anything after the Black Album. People still enjoy their music so why not continue.
    Veronique Vega
    I agree that Lulu isn't a high point for the Metallica camp. But Death Magnetic was good. Very good. If they can keep up that level of quality music, I'll be a very happy girl.
    Some bands have to die, eh James? Some bands should take their own advice.
    Saw them live in Vancouver where they filmed their new movie, and it probably was one of the best shows I have ever seen. That's saying a lot coming from me, as I've seen many bands come to town. It was that good. Metallica isn't my favorite band, but in no way should they disappear at this point, as they are still putting on great shows. When they are unable to perform as well, then it will be the time, but not before that.
    With fads like dub step and all this pc generated music the shift will happen and we will be rid of this pop crap and real rock and metal will return.
    Merciless Tengo
    if you think dubstep is a fad, you've got the wrong idea of it, I've been listening to it since 2006 and it's clear that within the past year or two that Ultimate Guitar regulars have become aware of it, they've just don't know what dubstep actually is. Most of the stuff people know as dubstep is like, what Blood on the dance floor is to metal. Also don't be ignorant, computers are more versatile and powerful than any instrument, and the pc doesn't generate the music, it's still composed and arranged. Also, I bet you have no problem using a model amp, modern pedals or even things like the POD? Well, that is definitely no different from using a MIDI keyboard and synth module.
    I'm not entirely sure why this comment has negative votes, it's one of the most valid points I've ever seen on UG. It's like people think that by ignoring dubstep it will just go away. That's not the case, I'm afraid. Although I'm not particularly a fan of it unless intoxicated, you can't ignore the fact that it's a big thing now. Have you people seen how many views Skrillex has on all of his songs on Youtube, even the little known ones? Some of them are hitting 60 million! It's not going to go away. Just deal with it.
    link no1
    "A fitting comment, considering their unpopular "Lulu" collaboration with Lou Reed last year." Nice journalism, I love the part where you try to make everybody think you're witty and cool.
    "I love the part where you try to make everybody think you're witty and cool" Funny, I had the same response to Lulu.
    Metallica is washed up whereas a band such as Tool is still in their prime.
    How can you tell? They haven't done anything worthwhile in 6 years, or 11 if you didn't like 10,000 Days
    Instead of putting out mediocre album after mediocre album perhaps Metallica should quit releasing them and let the label spend money on a band capable of putting out quality material?Just a thought..
    I assume then that you don't work for a major record label. Because that there is a real easy way to waste a shit load of potential income. Also, Metallica are without a label now. You think they need a record label's support to fund their tours/albums/anything? Oh dear.
    Some bands have to die? naah I like variety.
    Some bands have to die to make room for new ones, of course there will be variety. It doesn't mean their old music is rendered obsolete, it just means they should stop performing to make room for newer bands.
    He would have a point, but it isn't the strong who survive in rock, the crap survives just fine as well. You can read about it almost every day on this site.
    I bet if Metallica wrote this song everyone would shit themselves complaining.
    can someone please just bash kirk repeatedly over the head with his f*cking wah pedal already?
    "Some bands have to die." Talk about irony. Metallica should cause they'll just keep embarrassing themselves if they don't stop forcing things. I mean WTF was "Lulu"?
    I'll write something horrible again. I HONESTLY think that Metallica is pretty dead. In terms of creativity - They can put out some standard albums if they wish, but theres nothing exciting anymore. I do however think that they should keep going live. All the time. It's a great band, made great songs and all that. I just think the creative juice has gone.
    To me, Metallica has died a long time ago..Still following the band times to times. Will NOT go to any concert anymore, completely tired of listening to the same old "goods" songs from the 3 albums (listened to them like 10 000 times) and the "newer" songs are just boring to me...Gives nothing. So yes, please Tallica, die or renew yourself.