Metallica: 'Metal Is Struggling in the US'

"The States has gotta step up and want their music," says James Hetfield.

Ultimate Guitar

Metallica frontman James Hetfield wasn't too optimistic while discussing the state of metal music in the US, confirming that the band's Orion festival won't be held again, even dubbing it a financial disaster.

Telling KTBZ-FM how much better the situation is in Europe and South America, James noted: "I don't know what's happening the States. The States has gotta step up and want their music. I'm not sure what's going on in the States as far as rock and metal goes and concert-wise, but there's not really any willingness to get a big show out there and make it worthwhile to actually get out there and play. You see other bands gathering up six different bands just to go out and play."

"It's pretty tough in North America," Hetfield added (via Blabbermouth). "Right now, it seems like metal is struggling a little bit in the States. Obviously, the Orion [Music + More] festival that we had tried to do the last couple of years has really not been..."

The frontman then opened up about the festival's actual state, adding, "Gosh, it's been a disaster financially, and it's not able to happen again because of that. So it's a bummer. So, you know, we're doing what we can to keep being alive here. And I hope to get out and play in the States. It seems like forever since we've been out and about."

During a separate 97.1 the Eagle Rocks radio chat, James discussed the immense amount of riffs reportedly accumulated for the new effort. As the singer/guitarist described it, not all of them are exactly top-notch. "Well, that is a gift," he explained, just to jokingly add: "Finding a good idea in it all is also a gift. When you walk into a studio and you've got 800 riff ideas, they're not all good, believe me. [laughs]"

In related news, guitarist Kirk Hammett touched on a slightly different matter - a guest appearance on the new Exodus album. Chatting with 107.7 the Bone alongside band leader Gary Holt, Kirk seemed quite interested in laying down a guest solo or two. "What a great idea!" he enthusiastically said, adding he's "totally down" for doing it.

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53 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I don't think it's the genre struggling; WE are struggling. Not everyone can afford a ticket in the range of $75.00 all the way up to $150.00. I've been going to way more local shows because the tickets are cheaper.
    It seems like its a little of both. tickets are pricey these days. But that being said, what type of show are you trying to put on? If you think you're going to get the same turn out in the states that you get in South America you're fooling yourself. The last big show I saw was Maiden and Megadeth in Nashville a few months back. Place was packed to the gills... but then again Up The Irons!!!
    Agreed. I'm from Sacramento, Ca. Our local metal scene here is awesome. Tons and tons of bands from Sac to the Bay Area. But guess what? Not a lot of metal bands or artists come in this area where it would not be a "financial disaster." Its shame as well, considering that Metallica are from the Bay Area!
    So are Huey Lewis and The News. but they cant afford to put on big shows in there hometowns and hope people will show up. Its not waynes world if you build it they will come.
    Grey Dread
    I'm in Sac, too, and I agree 100%.
    I'm not a big fan of the state of Ca, but their music scene is impressive. All we get in new york is shitty rappers and pop artists who think they are music.
    really depends on who you're seeing though. I mean big bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Metallica are way up there, but then you can still see amazing acts like Skeletonwitch, Otep, and Destruction for like 20-30 dollars.
    I'm actually agreeing with James on this one...partially. Metal has always been an underground genre that has been tried and tested to survive. At the very least, there should be a metal band or two that will eventually not only be original and threatening to the status quo, but catch the mainstreams attention, both in a good and bad way.
    music isnt struggling in the US, The US is struggling in the US and people cant afford that shit right now
    Ok, this blaming everything on the "recession" is getting tiresome. I work at a bank, and I see people pissing away their money everyday (i.e. Smart Phones, Going out to eat all the time etc.), without even a single thought of saving. Not to mention the immense amount of credit card debt that people have. Now I do understand that people have been layed off, I am not that insensitive. For the most part it is people with everyday jobs. The problem with music, at least in the Baltimore area, is that there is no stauration like their was in the 70's through the 90's. Baltimore has literally one rock station, and one station with a broadcast range of literally 1000 feet. So you have new bands competing for air time with 4 decades of music. Obviously national exposure like MTV or VH1 is out of the question, you can't get on that station unless your a pop/rap artist, or you have been knocked up at 16. I'll finish with this. If artists like James Hetfield and Jerry Cantrell are so damn worried about the state of rock/metal, why don't they do somethg about it. They obviuosly have the means to do so. Sorry for the rant.
    yup. Its Airplay, not Fairplay. Can't request music because the stations don't exist. I miss the variety of stations. All of my favorite stations are either Tejano (just not a fan), have become a pop hits program or sadly, cease to exist. It's business. We don't have to like it. Just got to keep the classics alive. Call your stations and upload to Grooveshark (not a plug). It becomes History. S**t, Lemmy said it best in his documentary, He remembered a time before Rock and Roll. HOLY F**KING SH**! What a concept. Is that humanly possible? Very few can vouch nowadays. I do fear that one day, there will be a time where people will say, "I have heard of Zeppelin" and not say, "I just finished listening to Zeppelin". Sorry for the rant. Gonna take a dump now.
    If they want their festival to succeed they should try making it and actual Metal fest, stop having other bands like RHCP and Arctic Monkeys as headliners, their festival was more of an alternative festival, most metalheads don't want to go see AM.
    Arctic Monkeys are freaking awesome, so are the Chilis. But i agree that putting them both on the bill for a metal festival is a little iffy. Not all metalheads like alternative bands (no matter how heavy some of their songs may be). I personally love those 2 bands, have seen each live and are excellent live. But Orion wasnt very unified in that sense.
    That's one sweet show though. RHCP have been one of the best big bands live to see. Not because Anthony is a great singer, or they put on a 3 1/2 hour show like the Boss, but because I've never seen such a big band just spontaneously create jams to see where it goes. They're so in the moment, and it's awesome to see a big band still hold that integrity.
    They should make it like Ozzfest, a place for new bands to get some fans. all they have to do is go to the local bars in a few different cities and invite the bands they like the best. They also invite 2 or 3 well known bands so that they can draw a large and diverse crowd for these local bands.
    You know, it's weird because Metallica was very open about them not making money on the festival until maybe even 10 years down the road. It's sad it won't happen again because as I've said before, it was one of the best weekends of my life. Very well put together and the bands were great. Now come tour the US and help metal thrive once more.
    It's a shame about the Orion Fest because I think people actually really want to go except that the fact it's only in one city puts people off because we can't all afford to travel that far.
    I think that a big part of this genre has been turned into a money-machine if you know what I mean and those who make money out of this music have lost the knowledge of what metal truly was when it first appeared. Sadly I wasn't there to feel the golden period of metal.
    Rex Inclitus
    I've been in this scene since the beginning, it was always underground and most of us were either playing in or watching other bands in small bars every weekend. Judas Priest in their earliest days at El Mocambo, several years later a new generation with Slayer even Mercyful Fate at Larry's a club that only seated around 200 with a stage so small they could only fit half their gear on stage. The Gasworks had countless metal acts in the 70's too. But the gigs being small, were intimate and loud, real loud IMO those were the glory days, not stadiums and mixed venues, metal was all about a small community and a lifestyle disdained by the mainstream masses.
    I think a big part of the increase in the selling of merchandise by bands is because they have to do so to make a living. Why? Because cocksuckers keep stealing music instead of phucking buying it, thus denying the band the income they are fully entitled to. Another part of the $ thing is the world's (disturbingly) increasing interest in consumerism and materialism. \m/
    Rex Inclitus
    Forgot to add, actually talking with the musicians not mention even having beers and partying with them. My brother met Lemmy while partying and took a pic with him, metal musicians were down to earth and approachable unlike a lot of other music genre's ( though one time at the El Mo Scott Ian was being a dick and ignored him )
    If metal scene is struggling in the US then what will happen to us Indians... And my other asian brothers... This sucks real bad...
    i think the difference is americans take everything they can for granted. you get a band like black stone cherry who is getting bigger in europe every year doing things like download and selling out venues, but in america they cant fill a free state fair show in their home state. its unfortunate back here in the states that great artists cant get the same response like they do in european regions. americans would rather gossip about bieber or cyrus drama instead of talking about real artists and musicians.
    If so many immoral, ignint phucking little retards would stop stealing (or "downloading"--nice euphemism, ugh) phucking music and buy the shit instead, then the talented metal artists (who work so damned hard to first develop a very high level of skill, then work more to produce the music) we love wouldn't struggle nearly as much. Buy music. Support the bands, support the musicians you love. \m/
    hit the nail on the head there. This "music sharing" thing is the reason tool only releases CDs and have yet to sign with iTunes.
    Stephen Vaughn
    We actually have a good scene here in Denver. Bands support each other and help each other get fans. And about the Orion festival; there is a reason Mayhem and Vans make so much money and are seen by so many people and it's because they go to more states than ****ing Detroit. Seriously the poorest and most ****ed up state in the union and you wondered why people didn't go? The **** did you expect?
    Just like here in Baltimore, local bands are like a brotherhood. Though unfortuantely that can only go so far.
    Well, if band struggle in the US, why not come to Europe for once? We are happy if we get to see Metallica here in Sweden once every two years! All the big US names are quite rare here. Metallica, Bon Jovi, Van Halen or hell, even G'n'r nor Ac/Dc barely show up here. Time for the big bands over in the US to come visit Europe a bit more often if they are in such a struggle!
    We have the same problem here in the U.S. I would love to see bands like Brainstorm, Primal Fear, Eden's Curse, H.E.A.T. or Issa here, but they just don't play here. If they do it's only in LA or New York. The music scene in the States is terrible and I can't blame the bands. We're force fed crap like Beiber, Maroon 5 and rap everywhere. Bring back good metal to the United States!!!
    I might catch a lot of flack for saying this but if he's making comments about metal struggling in the US, then why does his band stsrt a music festival with more indie rock bands? And making albums like Lulu doesn't help either.
    Its amazing how much you cant get off Lulu. We know it sucks, must you keep bringing it up?
    I just used it as an example. My point is, Metallica evolved and tried to expand beyond metal. That's perfectly fine. My opinion is that they tried to do other stuff and strayed too far from doing what they did best, which was metal. It's not just lulu. The black album, Load, Reload, St. Anger are all examples of them straying from their roots to try to expand because they didn't wanna just be a metal band. So for James to complain about the state of metal, to me, is kinda funny. On another note: I'm just stating my opinion. I'm not trying to troll or offend anyone.
    Team Goon
    I understand what you are saying...they've experimented with too many things that have flopped. They just need to stick with what they do best and that is to make music.
    For f*cks sake, man. LuLu has nothing to do with this, people who loved Metallica still love Metallica as much as they did before.
    Grey Dread
    These fools haven't put out an album since '08 - and they bitch about the state metal is in? LMAO!
    In Australia we have the Soundwave festival every year. Musically, it will never please everybody, but all in all it shows you that metal and rock are very much alive
    yeah soundwave has been awesome for the last few years but this year is headlined by green day. nothing against them but hardly metal
    I agree with James on this. Im from the UK but it seems most of the metal bands income comes from doing European festivals and playing South America. I mean I hear people taking about Maiden but their attendances in the US are only about half of what they are around the rest of the world. Im not sure what the answer is.
    Just because we don't want YOUR music James doesn't mean metal is struggling.
    Was there a point here, or are you just the "cool" guy taking a cheap shot at Metallica