James Hetfield Explains Why Metallica Doesn’t Have a Lot of Albums, Shares Opinion on Rob Trujillo’s Contributions on ’72 Seasons’

After the release of Metallica’s latest album “72 Seasons,” all four band members have been pretty busy appearing in the media and discussing their new material. Recently, frontman James Hetfield appeared at the “Metal Ambassador” show over at SiriusXM. Asked about “72 Seasons” and reminded of some Black Sabbath-like elements in there as well, James also reflected on the fact that, even after 42 years, this is only the band’s eleventh album. He said (transcript via Ultimate Guitar):

“I know, 42 years, and this is only our 11th album. It goes to show that we put a lot of time and care into what we do, not trying to overthink everything, just let it flow. But then, when you get into that creative process, it’s like, ‘It’s gotta be better’…

As James also explains, songs do tend to get a bit complicated sometimes but, ultimately, it all revolves around one thing — the riff. He continued:

“And the songs can get a little complicated here and there, but it’s really about the riff; the simplicity of the riff. So yeah, there’s definitely Sabbath in there.

In addition to that, James also explained how this was an important album for him to show that he’s evolving as a vocalist, explaining:

“And vocally, trying to evolve as well, without losing the in-your-face growl. So, I think I hit a pretty good balance on that, with the help of everyone else on the team…”

Metallica: Inamorata (Official Music Video)

Going further into the matter of vocals, James also explained there are more aspects to his singing than we might have previously thought. He offered:

“It is pretty interesting when I try to do some vocal stuff; something unique, more vulnerable, [and] everyone kind of steps back, ‘Uh-oh, what’s going on here?’ It’s like, ‘Relax, guys, I know what I do best, but I also want to evolve as a singer.’ So, there’s a lot of give and take in there, the same as with everyone’s skill.”

One of the most exciting aspects of “72 Seasons” was probably how Metallica approached songwriting. Although there’s no denying that Lars Ulrich and James are the ones in charge, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo also contributed a lot. And that’s especially exciting for Rob. James commented:

“The bass — Rob has done a fantastic job. I think, at least in my personal life, the inclusion of others — it really was Lars and I [in the past] a bunch, just going through the riff tapes, ‘Here, this is good, this is not, let’s put this stuff together and we’ll show the other guys what they get to play in the studio.’ But involving the guys from day one, in the studio, in the writing process, has helped a lot with the vibe of this record.

“So, the inclusion of everyone, Rob especially — that guy is so dedicated to this band, man [laughs] – he knows the songs before I do! He is there, and he is so positive all the time; Kirk as well with his kinda out-there, spacy quirkiness, he’ll all of a sudden mine some piece of gold, like, ‘Dude, where did that come from, we’ve got to use it!’

“A lot of inclusion on this record, which makes me feel really, really good.”

In an interview from earlier this year, Hetfield was asked about speculation from some fans that Metallica are breaking up, as well as about him opening up more in the band’s new lyrics. He said:

“Yeah, I think [so], and also out of just sheer fear that I don’t know what else to do with my life. Playing music and being of service, going on tour, playing, writing, creating. Thank God so much for that. Because I don’t know where I’d be. So I *do* care for it, and I need to embrace it and accept it.“

Metallica: 72 Seasons (Official Music Video)

“As far as other people’s worries and concerns and fears about Metallica continuing on or not, you know, I don’t feel responsible for them. But I *do* feel that I’m responsible for what *I* can do, what *I* can put out there. Maybe it seems egotistical to think that there are so many people relying on the Metallica record to get them through the year, whatever it is, [but] I get that it does help people.“

“It’s not up to me, absolutely. And I think most of the feedback around me going to rehab and all of the stuff, people’s theories, people’s ideas… what does that mean? You know, trying to figure me out. *I’m* still trying to figure ‘me’ out. I mean, all that stuff’s out of my control, man.“

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“And I get [that] most of that stuff is out of fear because they want Metallica to continue. So do I. So do I, and I’m doing my best to do that, and that’s why I go away. That’s why I go and reboot. That’s just me. Embracing that part of me.“

“And it also allows me to be more vulnerable – looking the world more in the eye and just saying, ‘Hey, this is how my life is. I wish it was different, I wish it was easy, I wish I didn’t have to do all the stuff, but here’s what I go through. And it brings fuel and meaning and purpose to my craft.’“

Photos: Kreepin Deth (James Hetfield live in Amesterdam 29 April 2023), Carlos Rodríguez/Andes (Robert Trujillo 29.10.2016)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.