James Hetfield says Metallica is made up of “average” musicians

“When you put us together, something happens. Something really happens"

James Hetfield has claimed that the individual members of Metallica are “average” musicians.

In a new interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine, the Metallica vocalist said “I know individually, we’re all really average players.”

He went on to claim that something special happens when the four of them team up though. “When you put us together, something happens,” he explained. “Something really happens.”


Last December, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said he wasn’t “qualified” to play with Rush at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.

At the first show – which took place at Wembley Stadium on Saturday September 3, paying tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer – Ulrich joined AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and the Foos’ surviving members to perform a pair of the former band’s hits: ‘Back In Black’ and ‘Let There Be Rock’. Then, in LA, he joined Sebastian Bach, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler and the Foos to perform ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Supernaut’.

“I mean, I love Rush,” said Ulrich. “But if they had said, ‘Come up and play ‘2112’ with Alex [Lifeson] and Geddy [Lee], I’d go, ‘I think there’s somebody more qualified to do that than me.’”

“Straying outside of the Metallica world is not the most comfortable thing,” he continued. “I think a big part of why we just love staying inside the Metallica universe is because there’s that safety in numbers, and we just support each other and have that thing.”

Lars Ulrich of Metallica
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs at Lollapalooza at Grant Park on July 28, 2022 in Chicago CREDIT: Scott Legato/Getty Images

Elsewhere in the interview with Cigar Aficionado, Hetfield said: “Early shows were really difficult— I was so shy. I didn’t want to talk. I’d have the other guys in the band introduce the songs. [Now] I feel so comfortable up there, it’s so weird. Sitting down one-on-one with someone is a lot more anxiety ridden than standing up in front of 10,000 people, 20,000 people.”


“As we get older, we would love to continue to play all the places we’ve been before but it’s near impossible to keep up the pace we’ve had in the ’90s. We are very self-critical and hard on ourselves and have very high standards. So we do take care of all aspects of bringing the best show visually and sonically to the people that enjoy our music and continue to come to see us live.“

Metallica are set to release their new album ‘72 Seasons’ next month and head out on the first leg of their world tour.

The tour will include two nights in each city, promising a “no repeat weekend” of two different sets and two different opening acts. Support across the tour includes Architects, Mammoth WVH, Five Finger Death Punch, Ice Nine Kills, Pantera, Volbeat and Greta Van Fleet. Tickets are available here.

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