Metallica's Hetfield And Ulrich Discuss 'Master Of Puppets'

James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich talk about their decision to play the "Master of Puppets" album in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

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Metallica's James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich recently spoke to Masa Ito's "Rock City" TV show in Japan about their decision to play the "Master of Puppets" album in its entirety to celebrate its 20th anniversary.

A couple of excerpts from the interview follow, according to Blabbermouth.net:

Hetfield: My gut feeling is? I think 'Master of Puppets' represents a certain time in history. It was kind of the end of the Cliff Burton era in Metallica, which is sad, but also very important. And maybe 'Master of Puppets' was the record that a lot of the early fans identified with. 'Cause after that Jason [Newsted] joined the band and then the popularity became bigger. And then the 'black' album? It was different after 'Master of Puppets'. So I think there's still an innocence about it and just a real 'fuck you, world' attitude to it still. And we weren't, I think, very influenced by all of the 'bigness' of Metallica. Plus the songs ? they have that energy, that fire; they're still youthful, but we were still growing, and the songs got grander and bigger, and [we added] more character to the songs. I think every song on that record is really good and it stands up to time.

We had played almost all the songs live before, 'cause they were all, I guess, songs that needed to be played live. 'Orion' was the one song that we never really did live, and that seems to be one of the most fun ? maybe because we didn't play it live, but? It's very emotional, even though there's no words to it, and having Rob Trujillo in the band now playing some amazing Cliff-style? it sounds better than ever. But I would say the songs themselves remind of an innocent Metallica. The word 'innocent' in a? what kind of way?! Not stupid, but in a not tarnished, not ruined by fame. [Laughs] Even though we've tried our hardest to not be touched by popularity, it's impossible to not feel the effects of it. So the honesty and the innocence of 'Master of Puppets' ? still sleeping, living at the studio; still roughing it and still having that fire. And only Metallica on our minds ? just Metallica. Now it's different. There's family, there's a lot of things that are important in our lives. I think 'Master of Puppets' was? that was all we ever though about ? ever.

When we were going to play over in Europe, especially in the U.K., a lot of importance was put on 'Master of Puppets', and they did a CD ? Kerrang! put together a CD of all these other bands ? Avenged Sevenfold, Trivium, Bullet For My Valentine, a lot of the new metal bands ? paying tribute to 'Master of Puppets', and that inspired us to do our own tribute. But also, hearing those bands do our songs, it put a little fire in our ass to get back into it and really not be so lazy about playing. Not that we're lazy, but you kind of take for granted that, you know, we've been doing this for 26 years. We're good at this. Yeah, we are, but we can be better. And it helped us step up another level. I think what we were going to do was play 'Master of Puppets' live maybe just at Donington, or just at the indoor shows. But my idea was, hey, we've done the Download/Donington festival five times, six times. Let's do something different instead of the 'best of.' So we did it the whole tour, and it felt really good. It was a long set, but very inspiring, and it felt good to play from beginning to end the whole album.

Ulrich: It's been fun. It's been really interesting writing the new record and going back and listening to 'Master of Puppets' ? reliving it, re-learning it. Over the course of the years, we started playing some of the songs a little bit differently, and we went back and we played all the songs exactly? well, more or less? the same arrangements as on the album. We put a lot of parts back in that we had taken out over the years. And it's been interesting to write new songs while having 'Master Of Puppets' kind of [on our minds] because I think it's definitely affecting us a little bit. Some of the new stuff has the same kind of? it's challenging like some of the 'Master of Puppets' stuff and maybe some of the stuff is a little bit inspired by some of it. We've been joking, obviously, in the beginning when we were trying to re-learn all the songs, if we had known 20 years ago that we would be playing the songs 20 years from then, maybe we wouldn't have made the stuff so complicated. But we kind of re-learned it, actually, faster than we thought. When we played the first show in Germany at Rock am Ring, we were very surprised about how effortless it felt, and how natural it felt to be playing the whole record, and obviously the way the fans were responding to it was very positive. They were even more surprised than we were that we could still play it, and still play it well and still feel like we were in control of it, 'cause some of the stuff is kind of complicated and nutty, but? We're all in very good shape and we've been in very good physical energy for most part of the year, so it's been fun.

But what does the record mean? It's difficult to just highlight that record. You've done enough interviews with me to know how I feel about most of our records. I like most of our records, I have respect for all our records, certainly. I understand that people think that 'Master of Puppets' is a big highlight, but for me, it's just one of many records, and one of many records that fit a puzzle. I don't think that there could be a 'Master of Puppets' without the record before it and the record after it, and that goes for all of them, so it's difficult for me to single that record out as a special achievement, but I understand that for a lot of people it's a very special record, and I'm OK with that. But it's been a very positive experience. We've never done anything like that before ? we've never played a whole record, we've never really celebrated a record ? and I think we were a little bit hesitant about doing it, because I think we're scared of dating ourselves. We still consider ourselves to be younger than we are, and in our own minds, we feel that we're still much more part of the current generation than the previous generation. Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and AC/DC, they're still our heroes and they're still our idols, and so I still feel much more? I feel like I have much more in common with Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold and those bands than I do with Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, because they were my heroes. So it's difficult? When we did this whole 'Master of Puppets', I think we got a little scared of, maybe we were part of the older generation, you know what I mean? But I think it's been OK. And it's actually been a lot of fun to do it. Maybe we'll do it with every record as it hits its 20th anniversary. Who knows?!"

Watch video clips of James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich's appearance on Masa Ito's "Rock City" at YouTube.com.

53 comments sorted by best / new / date

    euan_soad
    I would love to see the whole of ...And Justice For All... live. That would be mind-blowing.
    Caution: Hot!
    i think playing whole justice would give me heart kick, ya know, i like that album. it chills me inside! METALLICA ROCKS!!!
    silveribanez07
    also, what is wrong with you NirvanaFan101? anyone who thinks that the 'black' album is better than master of puppets deserves to be slapped upside their head. musical performance, solos, and lyrics are ten times better on AJFA and MoP than on the black album
    FullBaked
    silveribanez07 wrote: also, what is wrong with you NirvanaFan101? anyone who thinks that the 'black' album is better than master of puppets deserves to be slapped upside their head. musical performance, solos, and lyrics are ten times better on AJFA and MoP than on the black album
    +1 lars says he relates to trivium and a7x... so sad. i bet if metallica back in the day saw these bands, read their lyrics, they would go out and kick some ass!
    recliner33
    maybe 20 years from now metallica will be playing the entire set to st anger at their concerts. I can't wait ,Hahahahahahahaha
    Aussie Ghost
    Sounds like a good idea. Maybe if the did ...and justice for all and ride the lightning as well that would be just as good. But Robert is really going to be the make or break here for them. Puttets is a really bass influenced album so if rob can do a good job this will be awesome. Hes a good bass player so i have no doubts he will
    Aussie Ghost
    silveribanez07 wrote: i agree with Biohazard, metallica should revert back to the stuff from Kill Em all, as well as ride the lightening, and justice for all, and master of puppets. it's great to hear that they have reflected on their 'glory days' before the loss of cliff. maybe now they'll go back to being metallica instead of 'gaytallica'. don't get me wrong, i love metallica, but they have needed to wake up for a while now.
    Easy to say from a third party perspective. But its not that easy to go back to old stuff after frigin 20 somethin years. Everyone 'wants' them to go back to their best but it just wont happen, accept it and move on
    Nor'Easterbass
    euan_soad wrote: I would love to see the whole of ...And Justice For All... live. That would be mind-blowing.
    "justice", the song, would be soooo long tho. they've said that they hate playing live cuz ppl start to yawn around minute 7. lol.
    Slap_Bassist
    I'd love it if they played all of their instrumentals in one concert (preferably one I'm gonna be at lol) It'd be great to hear Pulling teeth, Orion, Call of Ktulu and cliff's tribute, To live is to die!! now that, would be a rather mind blowing experiance!!
    RIP-DIME&CLIFF
    It WOULD be F***ing unreal to c Tallica Play the entire Ride the Lightning and Justice Album, i would so much love to c them Perform To Live is to die.....but i will admit it would be Hard (emotional) song to play.....TALLICA FOR EVER
    Biohazard
    also, Kill em All live would be amazing! haven't heard Hit the Lights live!
    Spizzle17
    while the Justie album would be great i would love to see Ride The Lightning and Kill 'Em All live. Trapped Under Ice, Escape, for the first time ever lol. and u cant forget Pulling Teeth! that would be ****ing AMAZING. I know Rob can do it since he does play like cliff. which i find alittle creepy but awesome
    Horvat
    Man I hope they re-do Ride Th Lightning. That would be a kickass... I'm weary about their new album. I hope they don't follow the current trend - metalcore. Hopefully they will at least partially go back to their roots. Sure, they don't have to do another MoP, but at least return to a kind of Black Album-type sound. At least .
    metaldeth
    and u cant forget Pulling Teeth! that would be ****ing AMAZING. I know Rob can do it since he does play like cliff. which i find alittle creepy but awesome
    you can't replace cliff and i think pulling teeth should be left alone, it was totally made by cliff and i think that should be the song, that cliff should only play. im sure we will all hear it when we get to heaven
    dennis_hs
    70% of the Kerrang tribute is utter crap!! Only once even worth mentioning is Machine Head, Trivium and Chimaira ..
    ghavelus
    you can't replace cliff and i think pulling teeth should be left alone, it was totally made by cliff and i think that should be the song, that cliff should only play. im sure we will all hear it when we get to heaven
    mmmm you mean in hell...
    smithfor ak0
    FullBaked wrote: silveribanez07 wrote: also, what is wrong with you NirvanaFan101? anyone who thinks that the 'black' album is better than master of puppets deserves to be slapped upside their head. musical performance, solos, and lyrics are ten times better on AJFA and MoP than on the black album +1 lars says he relates to trivium and a7x... so sad. i bet if metallica back in the day saw these bands, read their lyrics, they would go out and kick some ass!
    Lars says he relates to them, because he dosen't see himself as an idol, but more as of an influenced artist, He states he relates to a7x and trivium MORE than bands like priest and maiden, Because he was INFLUENED by them. The thing is, he dosen't SEE Metallica as The Band that influenced others, even the he realized that metallica did influence hundreds of bands.
    operation ktulu
    they need to go back to thrash like puppets, ride the lighting, ect. dont get me wrong i like their other stuff to but that stuff was tons better
    metal_head_9191
    silveribanez07 wrote: i agree with Biohazard, metallica should revert back to the stuff from Kill Em all, as well as ride the lightening, and justice for all, and master of puppets. it's great to hear that they have reflected on their 'glory days' before the loss of cliff. maybe now they'll go back to being metallica instead of 'gaytallica'. don't get me wrong, i love metallica, but they have needed to wake up for a while now.
    i agree, kill 'em all and ride the lightning were unbelievable.....it would be awesome to hear those two albums being played live
    silveribanez07
    i agree with Biohazard, metallica should revert back to the stuff from Kill Em all, as well as ride the lightening, and justice for all, and master of puppets. it's great to hear that they have reflected on their 'glory days' before the loss of cliff. maybe now they'll go back to being metallica instead of 'gaytallica'. don't get me wrong, i love metallica, but they have needed to wake up for a while now.
    krymson
    Well, that pretty much sums up why there wont be another master of puppets. And people shouldn't give them shit so much cause atleast they know that the fame has affected their career. Anywase, **** yeah mteallica!
    zebrahead234
    Joey JoJo wrote: The whole of Master of Puppets live was amazing. Now I'd like Megadeth to do the whole of Rust In Piece. master of puppets AND rust in piece live? that wud make me cry with joy I'd love to see AJFA live though. And less off of the Black Album.
    xthpsgodx
    I am not a Metallica fan, and even less a Lars fan, but I found this interview to be very inciteful and interesting. I have heard of other bands having trouble going back and re-learning their old style/songs before, I think it was Kiss actually, I cannot even imagine trying to remember a solo I had written 20 years ago.
    NemesisX
    I think a proper interview like this is good, especially with my favourite band. Well played to them. See? They're honest. Rock on, guys. Just, don't hang around with Trivium too much.. Ohh, please, don't.
    Joey JoJo
    The whole of Master of Puppets live was amazing. Now I'd like Megadeth to do the whole of Rust In Piece. I'd love to see AJFA live though. And less off of the Black Album.
    LakeboDom
    I was surprised when i heard bullet for my valentines cover of Welcome Home(Sanatarium) it was very good.Metallica Owns, If only They could do a tour with Megadeth(which will probably never happen) the tour would sell out in minutes
    true_bacon22
    If they could get back into the Master Of Puppets state of mind they might make an album they might be able to ake an album that is better then decent
    JimmyPage2247
    its cool to see them admitting they know they let the fame go to their heads a bit, i hope this changes their new record....maybe i can listen to it without wanting to shoot myself saying..."what happened to them!?!?"
    A7X_rise
    Damn fine interview. I think they're finally reflecting on what made them to great during that era. Maybe now theyll see that and try to bring that back
    cpt_pimp
    they;re coming to their senses at least... hey, if they play a few shows here and they play their older stuff i'd see them, but i think they've still lost their touch energy-wise onstage. granted, i've never seen them actually live, but i've seen videos and there's a major difference in both
    dimebag420666
    how about kill em all live? hahaha!!!! they could never play that live its to fast for there old hands and kirk never plays the solos from it like the way they sound on cd.
    RyanInChains9
    true_bacon22 wrote: If they could get back into the Master Of Puppets state of mind they might make an album they might be able to ake an album that is better then decent
    flyingjew34
    euan_soad wrote: I would love to see the whole of ...And Justice For All... live. That would be mind-blowing.
    Damn straight! Well, if they thought relearning MoP was hard, it's gonna be a bitch for them to play Justice. That album is so techniquely difficult.
    NirvanaFan101
    Metallica is awesome. Master of Puppets is an okayy album, but Black was WAYYYYY better. And I CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR NEW METALLICA!!!!!
    MetallicAhead
    ah well atleast they know they've let fame effect their music, and they arnt really the band they once wer. but the whole MOP show thing was mind blowing, never heard dissposable heros live, and in my opinion one of the best songs on the album. but i doubt we'l be hearing AJFA live... i mean common that album is insanly difficult with all the mad song structus and all... plus hetfield cant really sing like he could. but it still would be awsome to hear the whole thing live
    juzcook
    "Maybe we'll do it with every record as it hits its 20th anniversary. Who knows?!" *Drool* i would love to hear justice in its entirety, let alone the black album.... the struggle within would be a great way to close the concert off but i doubt thatll happen due t the running time of every album after puppets
    minimanson
    did they neglect to say in the interview "oh, and slayer have been playing Reign in blood and Anthrax have been doing Among the Living, and everyone loves it, so we want to sell more tickets by doing the same"
    Twist of Cain
    minimanson wrote: did they neglect to say in the interview "oh, and slayer have been playing Reign in blood and Anthrax have been doing Among the Living, and everyone loves it, so we want to sell more tickets by doing the same"
    Come on man they dont need to say that cuz its so damn obvious come on. and you know you wanted them to play all of Master anyway so come on.....
    joshua029
    NirvanaFan101 wrote: Metallica is awesome. Master of Puppets is an okayy album, but Black was WAYYYYY better. And I CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR NEW METALLICA!!!!!
    The New stuff should be good. But i would have loved to hear a "Ride the Lightning" tribute....maybe 25th...