So What!: The Good, The Mad, and The Ugly

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9780767918817: So What!: The Good, The Mad, and The Ugly

THE OFFICIAL METALLICA ILLUSTRATED CHRONICLE

From their early days in the 1980s as young, exciting, abrasive, and loud unknowns through their current multimillion-selling album, St. Anger (including the 2004 Grammy-winning title track), Metallica has earned its reputation as one of the most highly regarded and hard-rocking bands of all time. Based on material created for their official fan club’s magazine of the same name, So What!: The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly is a unique Metallica “scrapbook.” Including transcripts of exclusive round-table discussions, journal excerpts, and personal comments scribbled by band members throughout—plus festival reports, fan questions answered by the band, and approximately one thousand rare photos-- So What! celebrates many milestones and memories of the longest-running and most popular metal band ever. The book also gives the honest inside track on some of Metallica’s darker days: their search for a new bassist, insight into singer/guitarist James Hetfield’s rehab, and notes taken during their extended hiatus from 1999 to 2002. The only complete and fully authorized book of its kind, So What! offers Metallica’s legions of fans an all-access pass to the band, onstage, backstage, and beyond.

In the Fall of 1993, Metallica had just finished a 302-date world tour, and sold 15 million copies of the “Black” album worldwide. It was time, Metallica decided, to speak directly to fans through their own publication devoted entirely to an uncensored, inside look at the band. In early 1994 they launched So What! magazine, exclusively for fan clubs members. A decade later, it remains the only place in print to meet and mingle intimately with Metallica.

So What!: The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly, the first-ever official illustrated chronicle of Metallica, draws on the magazine's colossal resources to create the ultimate book for all Metallica fans.

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About the Author:

Formed in 1981 in the Los Angeles suburbs by James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, METALLICA today comprises Hetfield, Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. STEFFAN CHIRAZI first met Metallica in 1984 as a seventeen-year-old rock journalist. Now, twenty years later, he is the editor of So What! magazine. Metallica and Chirazi live in San Francisco.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Metallica ’84 Revisited

The following was the first article written by Steffan Chirazi about Metallica way back in October 1984. It was published in a now sadly defunct English music paper called “Sounds.”

As we trundle through Paris at 12:35 a.m., precariously perched in the METALLICA tour bus, the forehead of bassist Cliff Burton suddenly makes a close but rhythmic acquaintance with the front dashboard. The explanation for this over-zealous behavior is the tape of the Anti Nowhere League which blares out; Cliff is simply showing his appreciation in the strongest possible way.

With Metallica, whether on the road or the stage, there are no pretenses. No demonstrations of cool rock star behavior, no flash tailored garments. Nope, this lot are as basic as you or I, none of this false, haughty ‘we’re famous now’ attitude, more a ‘hello’ ‘ow ya doin’ down-to-earth approach. Indeed it is worth noting the next time you catch a glimpse of Metallica, that Cliff is the owner of the biggest, oldest and scruffiest Levi flares currently in existence.

But enough of this — I’ll serve you up with the basic and important Metallica logistical data first of all. Formed in early ’82 by Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield (drummer and rhythm guitar/vocals), Metallica were completed by lead guitarist David Mustaine and bassist Ron McGovney. McGovney was soon replaced by Cliff Burton, who was good enough to convince the band to uproot to San Francisco from L.A., and the band’s following started to take off in a big way.

It was at this time that it became evident that Mustaine, alcohol, pressure and therefore Metallica didn’t mix, so Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammett, another club circuit discovery. Out came “Kill ’Em All” in ’83 and presto, Metallica have been growing bigger, better and stronger all the time.

So back to the present day, and among the chaos, confusion and plain goddamn fun that surrounds a foreign festival, I managed to collar lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich in the already mentioned ‘headbangin’ heaven’ bus. I always did find it strange how such a fast, heavy and powerful band should suddenly rear its ugly head from amongst the Journeys, Survivors and Kisses of the humdrum, stagnating U.S. rock scene of the time.

“Yeah, well, we got sick of seeing every band in the States trying out this kind of AC/DC, Kiss, Journey approach, and we just wanted to go out and play our way. At first we had to play a few covers because we immediately went for doing gigs, but the important thing was that we were out there playing and playing them our way.”

One gets the feeling from this that there was a conscious rebellion against the American rock scene, although Lars stressed that nothing Metallica does is consciously planned.

“I think that there is some truth behind the rebellion bit, but it certainly wasn’t a conscious feeling. Everything Metallica does is spontaneous, I think if we lose our spontaneity we will be in one hell of a lot of trouble.”

Everything Metallica does may well be spontaneous, but the change from the out and out thrash metal on “Kill ’Em All” to the more melodious, mid-paced thrash of “Ride the Lightning” is surely a planned progression.

“No way. As far as I’m concerned, Metallica really changed with the arrival of Kirk and Cliff. Incidentally, I’d like to say that Metallica bears no grudges against Dave Mustaine and that we thank him and acknowledge his contribution to early Metallica.

“Anyway, as I was saying, it was just before “Kill ’Em All” that we really changed, y’know, and between the two albums there has been a progression, but through what we’ve learnt and seen, not sitting down and really planning as such.

“I mean, we did ‘Fade to Black,’ a ballad right? We didn’t think ‘hey man, let’s construct a heavy ballad, yeah,’ we just all felt it was right and so we did it. Metallica are a feeling not a preplanned package, we don’t deliberate on things for weeks and weeks. Oh yeah, I hate the f**kin’ phrase ‘thrash metal,” says Lars complete with upturned nose and very loud ‘eeuuurgghh’ to match his disgusted expression. I must say I don’t understand his apparent vehemence — after all, Metallica are the best thrash metal band around.

“The phrase ‘thrash’ suggests lack of music ability and that’s one thing we do not suffer from. I don’t know what exactly I’d call us but I hate the phrase thrash, ugghh!

“It’s all down to personal taste, I can see your view but I can also see Lars’ point of view. I guess it’s a reasonably accurate description if used properly,” pipes up Kirk.

I feel that “Ride the Lightening” is ample justification of both arguments, on the one hand providing some good ol’ heads-down thrash and on the other, copious displays of musical ability within it all. On that point I embarked upon the band’s live show. Is that also spontaneous?

“I think it is, yes. We go out there and do it as we feel it, If Cliff wants to headbang whilst he’s playing ‘Whiplash’ then he will, if he doesn’t he won’t. (Wow —Ed). It’s not a pre-rehearsed venture. The only thing we play before we go onstage, is that we’re gonna try and kick as much f**kin’ ass as we can. We do play for ourselves though to a large extent. If people like us we welcome them; if they don’t f**k ‘em.”

“We have a certain reputation,” continues Lars, “inasmuch as we are expected to go out there and whack out with energy and 500mph speed and satisfy this demand; now although that’s real nice, we’d like to think that the same feeling and goodness can also transfer to vinyl. Some bands can only do it live — they fell flat on record whereas I think we really pull it off!”

Certainly, Metallica’s vinyl energy is there in all its glory, but it is their live show which is guaranteed to produce flying hair and air-guitar players and to boost the post show aspirin sales. This live show really does kill, dammit — even lensman Tony ‘Wayne’ Mottram, a person with fussy tastes, is raving the Metallica live cause.

Britain will get to see Metallica during October/November. Initially, the band were going to hit the road for a full European tour, this little affair starting in France starting the whole onslaught. However, the inescapable hassles of business have intervened.

“Yeah, well we’re currently involved in a legal dispute with Johnny Z and Megaforce Records back in the U.S. We’re not under either anymore. Although certain complications have grown, we expect the legal situation to be cleared up very soon. Johnny Z did a great job for us but we felt that we’d outgrown each other.”

This means that Britain will see Metallica headline four to six dates including The Birmingham Odeon and the London Lyceum.

“We also want to release a single for the European tour which could be ‘Ride the Lightening’ but once the legal shit is fully sorted out we’re gonna make things happen.”

Metallica have been making things happen for quite a while in Europe, as is apparent by the amount of patches I saw adorning the jackets of European metallurgists, and by their extremely high record sales across the channel and yonder. Everybody loves Metallica, as was evident at their performance yesterday, where headbanging was a literal affair and not just a few polite nods.

The band will certainly blitz Britain, believe me, the British metal banger having had only one fleeting chance to catch them before, in the hellhole of Soho, the Marquee Club. And let me personally assure you lads n’ lasses, we’re talking bloody big blitzes of pure metal here. However Lars has still left me with a niggling point, that of his refusal to accept the term ‘thrash’ in conjunction with Metallica. The stubborn bugger still refuses to totally accept the phrase, saying “if you were to call us the original, the first thrash metal band, then maybe you’d have some justification, but even then I find it difficult to justify as an adjective for Metallica.”

Well, one point at a time, eh? Primarily, it is patently obvious to all the acts such as Exciter, Anthrax and Slayer are simply by-products of a style of music created and perpetrated by Metallica. These bands are the offspring of the thrash metal Metallica invented. Secondly, justification of the term ‘thrash’ can be found in “Kill ‘Em All” and the latest ‘n’ greatest “Ride the Lightning” and owners of these two platters will undoubtedly offer their own mutual support.

But really, what the hell! At least we have Metallica, and whatever way you want to classify them, these San Franciscan stormers continue to pick their audiences up by the scruff of the neck, violently shake them for 90 or so minutes and deposit them gleefully back into their seats, watching the infatuated faces beg for more. Everyone wants more of Metallica, which makes a statement Lars made “y’know, we’re gonna wake a few people up,” profoundly punctual in its delivery. People are waking up all the time to this particular metal beat... do the sensible thing and wake up with them.

**************

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