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Metallica have been busy during quarantine. In a March interview on The Fierce Life podcast, frontman James Hetfield revealed that he and his bandmates have written at least 10 new songs over Zoom throughout the pandemic.
The vocalist-guitarist couldn't confirm whether or not the new jams will appear on their follow-up to 2016's Hardwired… to Self-Destruct, but he definitely made it seem like the band were using their downtime wisely.
"Because of COVID, just sitting at home and getting a little bit antsy and just feeling creative at the same time and wanting to get together, I started doing a weekly Zoom with those guys just to check in," Hetfield explained on the Fierce Firearms podcast. "And then I just told them one time, 'Hey, I'm gonna write something. I'm just gonna play something and send it to you guys. You do whatever you want with it and see what happens and layer on to it.' So that's how we did a version of 'Blackened 2020'. I just basically played something. They hadn't heard it before. They played on it. Then it kind of got layered together."
Learning to write and record via Zoom was a common learning experience for artists throughout the pandemic, but Metallica managed to figure out a system that worked well enough for them to bang out nearly a dozen new tracks.
"Lars [Ulrich] and I would get together, or Kirk [Hammett] and Lars, and we would get little bits of time here and there writing," Hetfield said. "It was difficult because of the delay in the sound, so we couldn't actually play together, but we would play to a click track and watch each other play. We had our producer, who was running my computer while I was playing. He was running my computer from L.A., and I'm in Vail [Colorado]. And then Lars had an assistant running his computer from L.A. — he's up here in San Francisco — and we were playing together, and it was pretty bizarre."
He continued, "We started writing. We got about — I don't know — over 10 songs going that way. And then we finally got together. There's only so much you can do on Zoom."
Sounds promising! Elsewhere in the interview, Hetfield admitted that he's skeptical of the COVID-19 vaccine and that he isn't too keen on the vaccine pass system, which would require people to provide proof that they're vaccinated in order to travel and attend some large events.
"I have no clue," he said when asked about Metallica's return to touring. "It's not up to me. It really is up to the safety of everyone—not just the fans, but the crew and us. I'm not sure what that means in the future as far as vaccines. I'm a little skeptical of getting the vaccine, but it seems to be rolling out and people are getting it and I've got lots of friends that have done it."
"I'm not totally sure about it," he continued. "But I hope it doesn't come to a point where you have to have that COVID stamp in your passport or something to go everywhere. But if it comes down to that, then I'll make a decision then. We got vaccinated to go to Africa, so it's not like I've never been vaccinated before. But as a kid, I never got vaccinations 'cause of our religion [Christian Science]. So that was the only time I got one — when we were going on safari in Africa."
Check out the full interview above via YouTube.