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   Metallica Interviews & Articles Hit Parader Magazine Jan. 1999


Metallica may be one of the most influential acts of the latter part of the 20th century, but they still can't help returning to their Garage Days. This holiday season saw the release of the third album in the Garage Days saga, along with a home video and DVD (digital video disc).

This new package is kind of the best of Garage Days and then some, as the newer, bigger, better CD package (all the other Garage Days albums have been on vinyl) offers rarities and cover songs from the band.

"I will not tell you what's going to be on there, and there will not be anything that you'd expect, guaranteed," bassist Jason Newsted teased during Metallica's U.S. summer tour. "There will not be punk music from like Sex Pistols or Diamond Head or things like that. It's not going to be like that; it's going to be far more obscure -things you wouldn't expect from Metallica."

This installment of Garage Days is the latest in a series that began in 1984 with the rough and ready outing titled Garage Days Revisited. Frontman James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and then bassist Cliff Burton (who died in a tour bus accident in 1986) truly enjoyed putting the project together because it was a break from what had already become a career with such groundbreaking thrash and burn albums as Master of Puppets, Kill 'Em All and ...And Justice for All. Instead of the responsibility of putting together an album of powerful, thought-provoking tunes, Garage Revisited was just the band banging out songs that they used to jam in their garage before Metallica reached the levels of international obsession they now command.

Garage Days Revisited was a good release. So much so that this form of unpressured music making was continued after Jason joined the band with another collection of easy to beat up tunes on 1987's Garage Days Re-Revisited.

Both vinyl collections featured songs by obscure bands like Diamond Head groups that were influential to Metallica, but had little lasting impact on life as we know it. Both of those records are long out of print, which is why Metallica has decided to release the next album in what is becoming a tradition of low pressure, good fun releases. The new Garage Days collection, which found its way into stores just before Thanksgiving, includes songs from two previous Garage Days releases, and also features a new batch of B-sides and cover tunes, including Am I Evil?, Blitzkrieg, Helpless, The Small Hours, The wait and Crash Course in Brain Surgery, among others.

"For the new Garage Days project we did a bunch of cover songs and released them with the original $5.98 EP that came out in '87, because that album has been deleted since what... '89", informed Kirk. "It has been out of print for a while so we're re-releasing it along with these new cover songs and also all the other cover songs we have ever done. All the other B-sides. So it's going to be just a big collection of cover songs."

Metallica has been needing new musical entertainment. It took them minimal time to record 1998's Re-Load, since most of that disc had been recorded at the same time as their 1997 release, Load.

Things have changed -the Metallica of our youth, and the band's youth, has gone. The musicians are well into their 30s at this point. The black on black attitude is comfortably familiar, but the long hair has been chopped to an easy to manage level. Facial hair is now the rebellion of choice, coupled with various body piercings.

The thrash metal they pounded out in tight little clubs and megaseat arenas that made you bang your head a million miles a minute has slowed to a more manageable beat... so much so that for the first time in Metallica's history, they've begun incorporating an acoustic set into their live show.

"It's something different that we haven't done before in front of people in America -acoustic stuff," revealed Jason. "It went over really well on the first leg in the Pacific Rim. We needed to do it -we wanted a change. Playing acoustic is really fun for us, and it's important to keep touring fun."

Ask any band and they'll tell you. The road can definitely get old. The cheering crowds are fabulous, but the travel and the impersonal hotel rooms, sometimes you want more...
"When you go to Chicago and you play Rosemont Horizon for the eleventh time, I wouldn't say it was fresh and exiting," confirmed Lars. "But, there's always something that you can focus on to inspire you -some new face in the crowd. There's always some new place you can channel some energy from, that's the most important thing."

On the road, you do whatever you can to give a new twist, and that might be playing acoustic, changing the set around or synching the fireworks badly. Metallica enjoy the spontaneity of roaming the countryside, and they don't like doing the same thing time and time again. An easy way to vary things is to change the set list around.

"Once you've done 20 or 30 gigs, it kind of has a tendency to settle in and sometimes it can get a little too comfortable," offered Lars. "But we can always throw some variety in because we have so many songs to chose from. We pride ourselves on the fact that we cover all the different bases.

There's always some obscure song from somewhere that we can dig up and pull off that we haven't played for 10 years. And for kids who see us a lot, they're excited to see what kind of weird stuff we're going to pull out. We never really subscribed too much to touring on a new album and the idea that we've got to play 10 of the new songs and two old songs. We try to do a comprehensive set list that covers all the songs spanning our entire career from Kill 'Em All to Re-Load -with a few acoustic numbers thrown in for good measure, since acoustic seems to be the vibe these days."

For added variety, the period during the band's last tour offered Lars and James something completely different -parenthood. In June, James and his wife, Francesca, became the proud parents of an 8 lb, 4 oz, baby girl, Cali Tee.

This baby, who was nearly two weeks overdue at the time, was born at 11:13 AM, June 11th. Lars and his wife, Skylar, followed suite soon after, having their first child in August. Don't expect parenthood to change either Metallimember much.

"I would love to have my children experience all the things that I do and to not think that daddy sits on the couch and drinks beer for a living," James offered. "I want them to know what really goes on out here. I think that they should be exposed to the life that I have as soon as possible."

The offspring brought strategic breaks in Metallica's touring schedule, there was a break in June so James could have his child, and then another space in time in August, so Lars could be there for the birth of his first child. Childbirth was old hat for Skylar Ulrich as she's amedical doctor currently doing her residency in New York. Skylar, the former girlfriend of writer/actor Matt Damon, was also the inspiration for the lead female character in Good Will Hunting -actress Minnie Driver played a doctor named Skylar. Apparently Skylar broke Damon's heart when she ran off and married Lars. Indeed, angst is very thoughtful and contemplative drummer is trying not to get angsty about.

"I don't know how parenthood is going to affect me," admitted Lars. "I try and not preplan a lot of that stuff. Instead of wasting my time freaking out about it now, I'll just see when it happens. It'll be a beautiful thing and I'll adjust my life accordingly."