Metallica frontman James Hetfield joined an interview with Apple Music and talked about the things that made him fear and insecure throughout his career.
On August 12, 1991, Metallica released their fifth studio album ‘Metallica’ which is mostly known as ‘The Black Album.’ Following the release, the record received widespread critical acclaim and became Metallica’s best-selling album. It also contributed greatly to the band’s success and made the band more famous than before.
As you may know, this year marks the 40th anniversary of Metallica and the 30th anniversary of ‘The Black Album.’ Therefore, the band celebrated this important date by releasing a remastered version of the record.
In an interview by Apple Music, James Hetfield talked about his career in Metallica which spanned 40 years. The host Zane Lowe told Hetfield that ‘The Black Album’ was an essential turning point for the band as it made them so much bigger than before. He then asked Hetfield if his personality affected by this change.
Hetfield responded by saying he already was under the pressure of expectations to be the best as possible. The musician then stated that he felt the need to become what the audience expects him to be, however, he was struggling and not knowing who he is behind the curtains. Hetfield then added he felt a huge codependence and insecurity and revealed that he frequently asked himself who he was.
Lowe commented on this and said Hetfield never wanted the tours to end as when the applause stops, he began questioning who he is. As a response, Hetfield mentioned that he actually starts questioning himself when he leaves the stage which instilled a lot of fear in him.
In the interview, the host Zane Lowe told James Hetfield that:
“James, the work you had to do, to me was an untangling of the identity, the costume you put on that got heaviest when you got most successful. And the ‘Black Album’ is an essential turning point in that where it became. You were so much bigger up than you had been before. I guess your personality had to reflect that, right?
You have to be there for people, in a weird way that trade becomes imbalanced. It stops being an equal trade between fan and artist. It becomes far more one-way. Is that fair to say?”
James Hetfield then responded:
“Very well put. There was such an expectation already on me to not let the team down and be the best as possible. But when you add 60,000 people out there… You need to be what they need you to be because this is what you’ve evolved to be. The man behind the curtain pays no attention, but this guy behind the curtain is just dying, struggling, freaking out, and not knowing who he is.
You know, the word ‘unraveling’ is a great word like unlearning, unlearning all of what happened before. That was a part of me for sure, but it dominated all of me and the parts that weren’t happy about me. You know, this is a huge codependence and insecurity, a lot of that. Gosh, I can’t… I’m no good without these guys. When off tours, I ask myself ‘Who am I?'”
Zane Lowe added:
“Oh, ‘I never want the tour to end, because guess what? When the applause stops, I don’t know who I am.'”
“Well, like any first responder, or football player, or even a soldier, you take your uniform off and you’re a civilian again. You start asking yourself ‘Who am I? I don’t know who I am.’ There was a lot of fear in that.“
You can check out the rest of the interview below.