It's been literally* forever since Metallica released Death Magnetic. They seemed to be procrastinating heading back into the studio, but I think they've finally turned a corner. Early last month, bassist Robert Trujillo said the band were still "blueprinting" but now it seems they are getting their asses in gear and starting to do actual work.
In a new interview with Groove – The No Treble podcast, Trujillo says the band is carefully working on the arrangements for the new album and sort of explains why they like to take their time:
"I'm having a great time, and we're having a really great time. And it's actually fun.
"We've been jamming on lots of new ideas — frameworks, so to speak. And, you know, James [Hetfield, vocals/guitar] is getting into working up melodies and experimenting on that level. But it's really, like, kind of, you work out parts, a process of elimination, and then you jam 'em out. We jam' em out and get 'em into your system, make 'em a part of you.
"That was one of the cool things that [producer] Rick Rubin had conveyed back when we were putting together songs for the last album. It was, like, 'imagine yourself playing these new songs and you have to prove yourself to these fans in this small little bar or club who you've never seen in your life.' And so he was, like, 'Stand up. Everybody stand up.' We could be in the studio, right?! But it's, like, 'Stand up and perform these songs. Make 'em a part of you,' basically. And it was that kind of motivational speech that really made sense, you know?! At the end of the day, it made sense. 'Cause it's just too easy to sit there and go over your parts. So when I was tracking bass, I was actually standing up and rocking. [Laughs]
"At the end of the day, whether it's riffs, or just arrangement, lyrics… the whole experience of writing a song, especially with Metallica, it's involved, it takes time, it's a process. When I played in the Infectious Grooves, it was a bit different, because we would actually go in and we [would spend], say, four hours a day, five days a week [working on ideas], and we would come out with two to three jams, song formats — blueprints, I should say — and we'd put 'em on a cassette tape. And then the next time we'd get together, we'd be in a studio recording the album. And Mike Muir, the singer back then, would have taken those cassettes and worked up the lyrics and the melodies, and, 'See you in the studio.' Next thing you know, we're playing 'em. And the drums would usually happen in the second take. We always wanted to catch the magic of the first take, or the second take. Now that's very different than what happens with Metallica. But every situation is different. There's different magic that you wanna capture."
"For us right now, we're basically in a kind of scenario where we're nurturing the arrangements. And everything, really, is nurtured. It's like the transitions… trying everything you can try. That's just how it is. And I think that's what makes Metallica's music great and special. Because it's that kind of pride, and, really, you're working on art piece. And it's gotta be right. And what does that mean? That means exploring. James always has a handful of words for one possible word. Maybe this word doesn't work out. Let's try these. It's a lot of work, and it's time-consuming, but at the same time, it's important, and it needs to be done that way, because the end result is what we hear from Metallica, what everybody loves. If it wasn't that way, it wouldn't be Metallica. In the same way that if… I was using Infectious Grooves as an example. You know, that's how Infectious Grooves should make records. It should be this spontaneous energy and capturing that magic on the second take or whatever. But with Metallica, it's a different style and way to achieve a very special goal."
By the sound of this, it seems like Metallica will really be taking their time, so I wouldn't even be hopeful for a 2015 release. I bet we get the new album next spring.
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*not really literally.