lördag 25 juli 2009

Grym intervju med Flynn och Hetfield

Rock Hard magazine i Tyskland har gjort en grym intervju med världens två bästa frontmän genom tiderna, Robb Flynn och James Hetfield. Ofta brukar intervjuer blir mycket samma sak som man redan har läst om tidigare men intervjun berör först och främst 80-talet och Thrash metal och båda snubbarna gillar att vara ärliga och prata mycket nuförtiden så detta är helt enkelt en fantastisk intervju. Det är också underbart att höra hur mycket de beundrar varandra. En av de bästa intervjuerna jag har läst på länge. Så jävla bra så jag fick lov att copy-paste:a den till bloggen så att så många som möjligt läser den.


What immediately comes to your mind when you hear the word(s) Thrash Metal? What is your first thought?

James Hetfield: Early 80's, drinking, tackling each other, Ruthie's Inn, complete chaos, fun, no responsibilities (laughs), a lot of brotherhood back then. Just everyone having a great time, and destruction was a very big part of it.
Robb Flynn: For me? I think of Metallica, that was kind of the first Thrash band I'd ever heard, though it wasn't called "thrash" back then. But yeah, Metallica, Exodus and Slayer were the three bands and being from the Bay Area we were just like, "METALLICA!" Then Exodus came along and we were really into Exodus! But at the time I was 14 years old and I was living in Fremont, California so me and my friend would sit in his bedroom until like 2 in the morning on a Saturday night pointing the antenna on our Radio Shack radio towards San Francisco hoping to get a signal to record everything we heard...
James: On KUSF? Ron Quintana's Rampage Radio?
Robb: Yep, KUSF.

How important was Ron Quintana for the whole scene?

James: Huge. He was the underground tape nucleus, I would say. If anything was worth listening to, he would have it or he would soon get it. He was responsible for sending stuff out as well, for us. You know the four track demos that we'd done, the 'No Life 'Til Leather' tape. His radio station, which was a college station you could get away with anything on it, he had this Rampage Radio Metal show which we guested on so many times. It was basically a hang. If there was nothing going on, no parties or nothing we'd just go into the city and invade the station! It was great! We'd spin records, he'd make us do, like public radio announcements, stuff about venereal disease, just whatever, it was a blast!

Do you still have those recordings?

James: No, I'm sure Ron has 'em though. It was a lot of fun, he was really like the Metal network operator, if you needed to know about a band he would know. He was the nucleus at that time, besides Lars who was the other very knowledgeable person.

So since we're talking about the beginnings of the Thrash Metal scene, do you guys have a special soundtrack that immediately comes to mind when thinking about those days or a special song or record that sums it up for you?

James: Well for me, yeah there was a lot of stuff that influenced us to kind of get us into the 'Kill Em All' feel. But when I think of it, besides [listening to] ourselves I think of Exodus, big time. I think of 'Bonded By Blood' the first record. Our manager at the time, Mark Whittaker was also managing Exodus... well he was our light guy, our pyro guy, our driver (laughs) he was pretty much "the guy"! I mean he was our landlord, as well (laughs) he took care of us once we went up to the Bay Area. So he managed Exodus so that's obviously where we got Kirk [Hammett] through that connection. But I would say 'Bonded By Blood' by Exodus was a great soundtrack to destroying your friend's house (laughs)!
Robb: Exodus, I'll agree with that, I'll add Metallica and Slayer and then all the stuff that inspired those guys I got into after. But for sure 'Bonded By Blood', man, I lived and died by that record. Those songs and the fact that [Paul] Baloff was a freakin' madman! I mean, we'd go see them and it was so insane, those shows were so violent! We were still kind of like gangly kids going to Ruthie's and there's all these big dudes there just beating the shit out of each other, running or climbing across people's heads. I remember one of the first times I went to Ruthie's there was a dude running around in the pit and he had a cow's leg bone and he was just bashing people with it in the pit and I was like "what the fuck?!" (laughing) There were guys setting up chairs about fifteen feet away from the stage, then running from the rear of the club and using the chairs to launch themselves on stage, taking out the guitar player... and that was them showing affection! (laughs)

What made the Bay Area scene back then so special to you? Was it special to you? Did you realize it was special back then?

James: It was very special to me. Growing up in L.A. I knew how special it was, because I had been where it was non-special (laughs). I was in L.A. where the big hair and all the guys looking like chicks and we're [Metallica] there playing and trying to get some attention. So we're playing louder and faster and we're just stinky, sweaty kids trying to rock out, I would have to say the L.A. scene kind of helped develop our style. We were just so anti-it. So when we moved up to the Bay Area, when Cliff [Burton] agreed to join the band, we already knew it from the first time we went there to play, when Brian Slagel [Metal Blade Records founder] said "come play a Metal Massacre gig" up there. Cirith Ungol had cancelled so we ended up getting on the bill at The Stone and that's where Cliff saw us and we hooked up with him. But yeah, the scene, as soon as we went up there we noticed people there for the music, not for the chicks that were hanging out, not for the scene, not for the bar, it was for the music! They weren't hanging out at the bar they were at the edge of the stage waiting, for Metallica. I remember one of my first impressions of the Bay Area was a Metal fan standing there, there was a band that played before us, I think it was Bitch was the name of the band who were a little more Glam-oriented Metal. But this guy was standing there in his denim jacket with his back to the band he had a Metallica patch on his jacket. It was like "dude, this is our fan! We love you!" and it kinda grew from there. We would hang out and get to know the people in the scene and we would go to this place called Strawberry Hill in San Francisco. We'd go buy a bunch of booze and go to this hill in this big park and blast Motorhead, Tank, you name it, stuff that we all loved and just drink and headbang that was our scene. We were like a small little family who had similar problems and similar passions.

Was the scene dying down when you were coming up?

Robb: No not really, I got into it around the time of 'Ride The Lightning' when there was a lot of Punk Rock and crossover bands. My first show was the 'Ride The Lightning' tour at the Kabuki, and then my next show was D.R.I. at The Mab, at a time when D.R.I. only drew burly San Francisco skinheads. Me and my friend Leroy went with these two girls and they were into Punk Rock. So they took us to the show and we thought we had long hair at the time (laughs) so, you know, it'd be cool (laughs). The head dude of the SF skins was this dude named Dagger and the girls we were with were friends of his, and all he did was mean mug us the whole time! So we move into a corner near the door and we see this long haired guy come in, he pays his $5 and as soon as he's in the door, BAM! This skinhead drops him and screams "no long hairs!" and security drag him out. We panicked, we were like "Holy shit, we're gonna die!" (laughing) For the next hour we watched these skinheads just beat the shit out of each other to D.R.I. But it was like an adrenaline rush and surviving it was even better! So soon after we started reading and hearing of these other places these guys [Metallica] were playing like Ruthie's and The Mab and The Stone so we started going to these shows. We'd get rides from our friends older brothers, take BART, or get a ride from my Dad. My Dad was cool about it, he took us to the 'Ride The Lightning' show at the Kabuki. I made him drop us off like three blocks away so none of the other metal heads would see him. (laughs)
James: Yeah, we hitchhiked (laughs).
Robb: Hella! (laughing)

Is it true Machine Head were founded at or during a Metallica show?

Robb: Yep, I asked Adam if he wanted join a side project I was starting at the Day on the Green 1991. I was still in Vio-Lence but that's when I said I was going to start Machine Head and I wanted Adam in it.

When did you first take notice of Machine Head?

James: Well a lot of the early stuff is somewhat blurry, to me. There were a lot of bands that were playing at the time and I don't think I'd ever seen Forbidden Evil, or Forbidden is what they were called after you'd split...
Robb: Yeah, when I left I took the "Evil" (laughs)...
James: So you went on to Vio-Lence then?
Robb: Yes...
James: Well I certainly remember seeing Vio-Lence... they were part of the scene and it was another great gig to go see. The band title say's a lot about the scene at the time, you know? (laughs) It's tough though when a band or a guy like Robb is really trying to make it and he's going through a few different incarnations of a few different bands, after awhile it can get a little confusing. There's quite a few bands that, it's like whoa, "we're exchanging singers or were trading drummers, he used to be the roadie from that" now and it kind of became this game of everyone changing stuff. Eventually the cream rises and once Machine Head formed that was more intense and a lot more powerful, no doubt. I have to say that 'The Blackening' is one of the albums I put on and that's one of my favorites in my computer all the time... sounds weird to say "in my computer" but...

What do you like about it ['The Blackening'] the most?

James: It's solid, every song, it's very good sonically, very pleasing. The guitars are crunchy yet in your face and there's enough hooks and melodies to keep you going and the riffs... ugh! What blows me away, and what I'm kinda jealous of every once in a while is the solos, the dual solos they're doing are off the charts cool. Also all the other singing, there's more than one guy that can sing in the band... I've been trying hard to get the other guys [in Metallica] to sing a little and it's like well, maybe it's better that you guys just play good (laughing)! You know we don't have to be like Alice In Chains or the Beatles doing four part harmonies, but I need a little help man, come on! (laughing)

Robb, what do you like most about 'Death Magnetic'?

Robb: I just love the spirit, it seems like they're just letting the music pour out of them which is how I interpret [is the way] it happened before. It just seems like they just went "let's take this riff and just fucking ride this, and let's put this part here and this is cool" you know? Something I noticed early on were they always had these slight time changes, like extending something to where it's four and a half or five and a half, it wasn't always just a straight 4/4. So there's all those little details that make their songs so interesting, the structures. It's obviously great to hear the Thrash stuff again... but I've also always been a fan of the melodic stuff they've done too. I just think it's a killer record, it's an honest record, I don't think they're trying to recreate the past so much as just letting the past flow through them.

I would like to talk about the first European tours you did, how as it coming to Europe for the first time and finding out how many people were already into Metallica? Was it mind blowing or was it expected?

James: Well a lot of the earlier touring we did we had some interaction with people from the UK, we played with Raven in the UK and we also did some shows with Venom, who were completely out of their minds. So we learned a bit of the slang and the way the people were and the way they viewed life... and obviously I learned the smells of Europe through Lars! (laughs) I learned his views on music and attitude towards life, I learned a lot from Lars. So yeah, I knew a little about the vibe but once you get there, I mean from the way buildings are put together or the way the streets are chaotic (laughs). I mean, they're old horse trails that are turned into roads! I come from the West where there are grids and you know where you're at. I remember after we'd recorded 'Ride The Lightning' we did the tour with Tank, and that was like a dream come true. My girlfriend at the time and I were huge Tank fans and I was on the side of the stage headbanging, every night. But yeah, I remember struggling through all of Europe, staying in little closets, you know those rooms where you open the door and there's the bed, you can maybe get your bag in there (laughs). All kinds of funny visions. I remember looking out the window and seeing someone's bag hanging out of their window in the courtyard / alleyway and thinking "that looks like Kirk's bag" and it was. He'd gotten crabs and had the bag hanging out the window trying to get rid of them (laughs)! Things like that, very cool memories. Festivals, doing the Heavy Sound Festival, seeing all these other bands, just walking around meeting bands like Ostrogoth and Tokyo Blade, you know bands from the early 80's and just thinking "this is sooo cool, I wish all my friends from back home could come over here and be a part of a festival like this."

How about you Robb, what was it like the first time here?

Robb: The first time I toured Europe was in 1994 on the Slayer run. I had no idea what to expect and our first show was in Dublin, Ireland. I remember we opened up with "Davidian" and every single person in the crowd screamed "Let Freedom Ring..." up until that point we'd never had that before, ever! We ended up outselling Slayer on merch that night, so it was like, "Europe is amazing!" (laughing) you know? But yeah we had fun, it was crazy and since it was our first tour we didn't have a legit bus, it was like this half bus, half van thing and it was the middle of the Winter and no heater. When we played these Eastern Bloc countries, man it was so fuckin' cold. You'd wake up to take a piss and the bathroom was on the lowest part of the bus floor above the wheels, and it was so cold you'd go to take a pee, and your pee being warm and all, would hit this frozen toilet bowl and you'd be standing there in this fucking pee steam cloud! (laughs). But the crowds were nuts, the people were so passionate and so into new bands and new music. It's also the first time we were ever mobbed. You'd wake up in the morning and there'd be like 100 people outside of the bus waiting for autographs, and all I want to do is drink some coffee and take a dump (laughs) but of course you take care of them. Like I said it was with Slayer and we were Slayer freaks so we got to watch Slayer every night, for like 85 shows. It was amazing.

Would you say that thrash Metal was your way to rebel against society or were you not thinking that far?

James: Yes. It wasn't on purpose though, it's just what we felt. When Robb talked about the early days of the crossover, when you'd go see Motorhead, you'd see spiked hair, not really the skinheads because they were more closed into their thing. But definitely a lot of punks were into Motorhead and I was not opposed to Punk music, not at all. I remember being at school and wearing a Scorpions shirt and some punk rock glasses, and the Rockers would say "take off those glasses" and the Punks would say "take off that shirt!" (laughs)! But eventually it all melded together, right? But really it [Thrash] was an escape from how my life sucked... it really was. My dad left when I was 13, my Mom died when I was 16, I was living with my brother while I went to the last few years of school and I had to change High Schools and I hated High School! There was nothing but jocks and if you weren't a jock there was no way you were going to have a date or get a chick. So I totally sunk into music and my guitar and the music was speaking for me. It spoke my language, it was my voice. I felt lost, I felt forgotten even. When I hooked up with Lars I was living at Ron McGovney's house, working at a factory making stickers and living off of some of the money I had left from my Mom, life sucked! But as soon as we played, life was awesome. We jammed and it all went away and we just took it from there. Then it became, like we have some strength, we have a mission, we have a little confidence and then we were kind of able to go against what we didn't like. When we started doing gigs, they noticed us because we didn't like what was going on, we didn't like what was being played or the scene or what was on the radio so it eventually turned into that.

Was it the same way for you Robb?

Robb: Yeah, we were getting into Punk Rock and we were getting into Metal. But when we started going to shows it was like I found people I could finally relate to. They were like me, they wanted to drink or get some speed or take acid, they just wanted to rage! It was such a release, I mean I'd be at the front of the stage headbanging for like an hour and twenty minutes and FUCK it was the hugest release! I remember watching him [Hetfield] and he was so pissed off! And we were so pissed off! (All laughing) It was like "Fuck Yeah!!" This guy knows what I'm thinking! Then we started playing instruments and emulating what we heard, especially because it was coming from our own area, we were just filled with pride, there was such a connection. I mean we'd go to a show and James Hetfield was there! This was a guy who we'd heard on a record so it was something we'd never experienced before! It was like Black Sabbath walked in the room or something, like he walked in and then he went into the bathroom...
James: And you followed me! (laughing)
Robb: But from our perspective it was a little different, I mean, when Vio-Lence's debut 'Eternal Nightmare' came out, you know, in 1988, Metallica were on '...And Justice For All' so we were just like snotty kids compared to them, they were almost adults! But yeah, there was a connection and the fact that they seemed so down to Earth, like a Punk Rock band or just so different from the major bands at the time, it endeared me and my friends... we never hung out with them, but you could go up to them and get an autograph or whatever.

That's another thing about the Thrash Metal scene I guess, the musicians were always very accessible and had a lot of the D.I.Y. attitude. Do you still try to live by those ideals in a way or is it just too hard to do it if you're really successful?

James: No, we're extremely involved in what we want to do, I mean do it yourself is Metallica's motto. Do it yourself, think for yourself and carve your own path, no doubt. We've done that since day one and there's been paths we've carved that weren't so great, you know everyone makes mistakes. But there's a dare to fail attitude about us that we can laugh about, and let the people who want to exploit that fact take the piss out of you and rip you down. Go for it! There's at least passion around it because it's oozing from us. We could never just let things drift off and be 'the machine' and let it roll and just let it live off its wake. That's not the artist part [and] that's where I get the satisfaction from, it's always been "we're doing it our way." I think a lot of that attitude does come from the Punk world. [It's like] you're a fan of that band, I know what it's like to be a fan, I'll say hi to you, you know? I might not want to stop eating dinner with my family to take a picture holding your baby or something... but! What I'll do is acknowledge you and say thank you. Because I know what it's like to be a fan and try to meet Lemmy who comes over while he's swimming in his Speedo and signs my autograph (laughs)!
Robb: That sounds like a true story? (laughing)
James: Oh totally! (laughing) And I go "Wow!" The word "rockstar" has become such a horrible word. It's applied to other things, like [TV] shows, about chef's or something [in mock voice] 'well you know he's the rockstar chef', it's a bad connotation and it always has been. When we toured with Ozzy and he's up there in the sparkly robe, that's not the Ozzy I wanted to see, you know? It came from that whole world of LA Glam that we didn't like. You were acting bigger than you were, you were above your fans, you were above everyone else and you acted that way. We never related to that whatsoever.

Same with you guys, right?

Robb: Yeah, like I said that very attitude was a huge influence on us. We admired it, we respected it and we try to carry a similar vibe. Because we were around that and we saw that, it did influence us. We've tried to keep that vibe throughout our career too.

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