If Metallica are a bunch of average players, then I guess we're all just awful musicians. In a new interview with Cigar Aficionado, Metallica frontman and downpicking machine James Hetfield expressed his thoughts on the band being greater than the sum of their "average" parts.
"I know individually we're all really average players, but when you put us together, something happens," said Hetfield. "Something really happens… Getting up and jamming with people is like a nightmare for me."
Hetfield later added that one great example of jamming being a nightmare was when Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones joined Metallica during their 2009 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. "I felt so inadequate. And it’s a head game for me. I’m a perfectionist. And kind of a people pleaser. Most musicians are insecure." And in context this all makes sense – playing with musicians that you jive with elevates everyone involved to a place they couldn't get to alone. But to say the dudes in Metallica are "average musicians" is just not true.
Hetfield also touched on getting over being shy on stage, and the band being potentially too overly-critical of themselves.
"Early shows were really difficult— I was so shy," Hetfield said. "[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, say, in the '90s. We would go out for months at a time…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."