The Story of the Big Four: “Am I Evil?”

The Big Four of thrash—Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax—are set to play New York City’s Yankee Stadium on September 14. It will be the second time ever that all four groups have shared a stage in the United States. To mark this occasion, Revolver and Guitar World are celebrating the event with the Big Four Weeks leading up to the event. For the next month or so, leading up to the show, our websites will be giving fans eye-popping exclusives (like the Big Four trading cards from the September/October issue, which we unveiled last week), previously unseen backstage video, and excerpts from our interviews with the bands on a regular basis.

This installment is an excerpt from Revolver’s special issue devoted to the Big Four, which you can buy right here. This section recounts how it came to be that all of the bands perform “Am I Evil?” onstage together at Big Four concerts, beginning at their Sofia, Bulgaria, gig last year. It features interviews with Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Charlie Benante, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, and Megadeth’s David Ellefson. So, without further ado, here is the inside story.

REVOLVER Famously, most of you got up onstage and jammed on Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil?” last year in Sofia, Bulgaria. How did that come together?
LARS ULRICH I think that we felt we should try and see if we can get everyone together. Also, there was the whole worldwide satellite thing. It seemed like an obvious place to share, there was just such a good vibe going on. We wanted to let the fans get a chance all over the world to share in that good vibe.

SCOTT IAN I think I was sitting in a bar with [Slipknot and Stone Sour vocalist] Corey Taylor somewhere a night or two before we actually did it, and I got a text from Kirk [Hammett, Metallica guitarist] saying, “Hey, in Bulgaria we’re thinking about doing ‘Am I Evil?’ with everybody, so let your guys know.” And I wrote him back, “Yeah, of course. We’re in.”

ULRICH The reason we picked “Am I Evil?” is because obviously playing a Metallica song would’ve seemed a little selfish. All of the musicians would certainly share that thread in Diamond Head in terms of influence. It’s probably difficult to find a band that’s more responsible for, or at least indirectly responsible, for thrash metal. And “Am I Evil?” is just a great, anthem-like song that also has the quality of not being super complicated. So it just seemed like the right kind of vibe to share with everybody for five minutes that wasn’t necessarily going to send people back to the rehearsal room for days on end. [Megadeth frontman Dave] Mustaine and a bunch of these guys obviously knew the riff, too, and it just seemed like a logical choice.

CHARLIE BENANTE The first message I got about it was—I think Kirk sent it to me—“You’re gonna play guitar.” That was the first message I got. And it was like, Fucking killer. That would be great. And I think other people thought, How is the drummer gonna be playing guitar when the other drummers are doing nothing? So all of a sudden a snare drum got put in my lap. And I was like, OK, I’m OK with that, too.

DAVE LOMBARDO I love jamming. I do it all the time at home in Hollywood. So I had a blast doing it, I wasn’t going to turn down this opportunity when all my other friends were up there. It was like, All right, let’s go.

The Big Four, from left: Slayer's Dave Lombardo, Metallica's Robert Trujillo, Slayer's Jeff Hanneman and Tom Araya, Anthrax's Charlie Benante and Joey Belladonna, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson, Anthrax's Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano, Slayer's Kerry King, Metallica's James Hetfield, Megadeth's Shawn Drover, Anthrax's Frank Bello, Metallica's Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett

What do you remember about rehearsing the song?
DAVID ELLEFSON
It was great. As soon as I walked into the rehearsal room, [Metallica bassist] Robert Trujillo was like, “Hey, Junior, glad you’re here.” And he hands me the bass. He was like, “Here, you jam.” And I was like, OK, I guess I’m the bass player in this little endeavor right now. So I played, and that was fun for me to sit there and be that guy. Lars was the drummer of course, and so we were kinda hanging by each other, because he and I have gotten along really well over the years. And I look and I see [Megadeth guitarist Chris] Broderick, [Metallica vocalist-guitarist James] Hetfield, Mustaine, Scott Ian, [Anthrax frontman] Joey Belladonna, and everybody standing there. And it was one of those classic moments. I remember as I kid, I would flip through a guitar magazine and see a classic photo of Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, and, like, Keith Richards all being in the same room together. To me, that was our moment. It was just these guys who have never all stood in a room together before. And especially with their guitars on, creatively working on something together.

And I gotta say, James Hetfield was a really gracious host. He made it relaxed and fun and it was cool because we were essentially being invited into the Metallica secret chambers. [Laughs] They made it very relaxing and very easy and very fun.

ULRICH I might have been the tardy one. Everyone was kind of standing around, looking at each other. And I was like, “OK, let’s play something.” So we started playing [Judas Priest’s]Breaking the Law.” We just loosened up and started having fun.

ELLEFSON The funny thing was, everyone had been practicing all day. It’s just one simple riff, and we’ve got everybody backstage at rehearsal set up in our dressing room as well. So Scott and Charlie and Frank and everybody is coming into our tent, and we’re back there jamming and rehearsing and working on stuff as well. It was one of those things where everybody wanted it to be just note perfect. Everybody out of passion was just like, I want this to be the greatest thing ever.

Click here to buy Revolver's Big Four Special issue!


Photos by Andrew Stuart

 

Alert to All Users of the Disqus commenting system: Because of a recent global security issue, the Disqus website recommends that all users change their Disqus passwords. Heres a URL about the issue: http://engineering.disqus.com/2014/04/10/heartbleed.html

 



  • Manveerflora

    fuck yeah

  • Asianguy_19

    yeah i like you all,,THE BIG FOR,,,all metal rules

  • Mudgejohn

    It’s a shame Metallica gets the headlines and all the hypeover the years when Slayer is so much better and heavier Slayer rules

    • MABOYER71

      SLAYER!!

  • Mudgejohn

    It’s a shame Metallica gets the headlines and all the hypeover the years when Slayer is so much better and heavier Slayer rules

  • Metaldan666

    And Chris Broderick???

    • Titus1

      Chris Broderick is a fantastic guitar player..The only post Marty Friedman guitarist capable of doing his solos..He’s streets ahead of Hammet

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.prater1 Jimmy Prater

    i saw the big four in indio, ca and i will say that it was an awesome show, but i feel that ANTHRAX..MEGADETH,& SLAYER ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PLAY LONGER. metallica did not finish most of their songs and the other bands didn’t get to play long enough. i have been a fan since the beginning…bout 30 years ago and in my opinion the other bands could’ve played longer, i mean it’s history we are making and a once in a lifetime thing. i mean ANTHRAX,MEGADETH, AND SLAYER all played much longer at MONSTERS OF ROCK in the oakland coliseum in ca. and that was a kick ass concert. but hey that is just my thoughts thanks
     

    • MABOYER71

      no shit dude why should Metallica get the most time they are badass but FUCKIN SLAYER RULES THE FUCKIN WORLD!!!

      • SLAYERSWINE

        I’m with you.  SLAYER is the band that the real metalheads love the most.  Metallica is the media choice.  

    • Titus1

      I totally agree Jimmy. I don’t see why Metallica get to be headliners if the whole thing is called “The Big 4″. It’s not “Metallica & Esteemed Guests”, it’s The Big 4,therefore no group should have longer playing time. I went to see the Big 4 and while it was great, I couldn’t help feeling I was watching 3 support groups and then the main act,Metallica who were good but the pyrotechnics,the stage and the massive video screen was unnecessary and not true to their origins.I mean, where’s the sense in that?? I’m surprised Mustaine or King ever agreed to such an arrangement..

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.prater1 Jimmy Prater

    i saw the big four in indio, ca and i will say that it was an awesome show, but i feel that ANTHRAX..MEGADETH,& SLAYER ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PLAY LONGER. metallica did not finish most of their songs and the other bands didn’t get to play long enough. i have been a fan since the beginning…bout 30 years ago and in my opinion the other bands could’ve played longer, i mean it’s history we are making and a once in a lifetime thing. i mean ANTHRAX,MEGADETH, AND SLAYER all played much longer at MONSTERS OF ROCK in the oakland coliseum in ca. and that was a kick ass concert. but hey that is just my thoughts thanks
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/jimmy.prater1 Jimmy Prater

    i saw the big four in indio, ca and i will say that it was an awesome show, but i feel that ANTHRAX..MEGADETH,& SLAYER ALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PLAY LONGER. metallica did not finish most of their songs and the other bands didn’t get to play long enough. i have been a fan since the beginning…bout 30 years ago and in my opinion the other bands could’ve played longer, i mean it’s history we are making and a once in a lifetime thing. i mean ANTHRAX,MEGADETH, AND SLAYER all played much longer at MONSTERS OF ROCK in the oakland coliseum in ca. and that was a kick ass concert. but hey that is just my thoughts thanks
     

  • fuck you

    me cago en todos estos weones de mierda

  • fuck you

    me cago en todos estos weones de mierda

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joey-Miranda/100001052142991 Joey Miranda

    Sonisphere Asia…

  • Heretic666

    The Four Horsemen would’ve been a better choice.

  • Heretic666

    The Four Horsemen would’ve been a better choice.

    • Titus1

      Hmmm..might have created unnecessary attention..everyone would be focused on Dave..unless they did a 4 Horsemen/Mechanix mix..but then again, that would make it a Metallica/Megadeth show.Am I Evil,Die My Darling etc represent the influences on the Big 4 as they were growing up.

    • Invisible Kid

      have you ever heard a song Called “The Mechanix”
      Yeah ..i’ll let you think about it

  • Minddwell

    Where were Slayer during the Am I Evil? show?

    • Astaton81

      sacrificing virgins!!!

    • Maboyer71

      THAT’S RIGHT! I know its not because they are too good, they are better than that what a CLUSTER FUCK! TOTALLY EMBARESSING MOMENT FOR METALHEADS EVERYWHERE! used to look up to all these bands and you can see who really sold out

  • Minddwell

    Where were Slayer during the Am I Evil? show?

  • bonTags

    The Big FOur Cagayan de Oro!!! Slayer Rules!!!!

  • Abdouakon

    ilove 
    The Story of the Big Four: “Am I Evil?”

  • SLAYERSWINE

    Come to Chicago you motherfuckers !!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Mccabe/100000983486532 Jason Mccabe

    dose’t got any better then that, The Big Four. Like james said; all good in the name of heavy metal 

  • Jojoandersonmax

    Fuck you Maboyer71 are you saying that the 4 greatest metal bands of all time sold out ? One of the best nights ever in the name of metal

  • Azzametalpurist

    The big 4 Fuck Yeah Baby let anyone try and tell me any of these guys sold out !!! I don t fucking think so. I think all of these guys have had moments where people think maybe they sold out, that’s a bullshit copout probably just stages where after being in the business for so long they were just struggling with creativity issues FUCK give them a break theyre only human !!!!!!

  • Buc

    This is something no one in the world ever , ever expected to happen in a million years…Just enjoy it !!!!!!!!!

  • franky murphy

    their not the 4 greatest metal bands of all time (SABBATH w/ OZZY) , (SABBATH W/ DIO) then i lock in the beginnings of the thrash era… they (meta , mega , anth , slay) dosed metal up w/ exactly what it needed at that time ”punkish street credibility” cuz it was goin way way too glam and if the big 4 never came on the scene and MTV did exactly what they did do by playin poison viedos 6 or 7 times a day , the occasional wasp video , and motley was all done and they sucked anyway THE GOOD METAL BANDS LIKE ACCEPT , MAIDEN , PRIEST ETC ETC , those videos were saved for a watered down metal show called “headbangers ball” hosted by a goofy guy who fist appeared as a true glam guy that supported the silliest girrllie girl bands of metal?

    no they weren’t metal and thats why we needed the big four !!!!

  • John197021

    the big 4 kicks ass

  • Abdouakon

    slayer and megadatche very cool