PLAYBOY: Did you know they were telling people you were gay? NEWSTED: No. I mean, dude, there was so much, that's like a minor detail. PLAYBOY: Why did they do that and why did you put up with it? NEWSTED: Because it was Metallica, it was my dream come true, man. I was defintely frustrated, fed up and kind of feeling unliked. They did it so see if I could handle it. If you're going to fill the shoes of Cliff Burton, you have to be resilient. PLAYBOY: OK, guys, who was the biggest drinker in Alcohollica? HAMMETT: James. He would drink half a bottle of Jagermeister by himself, as well as drinking Vodka. ULRICH: James Hetfield. If me And James started drinking at the same time, six hours of hard liquor later, I would be passed out. For quite a while, he was embracing alcohol at a different level from the rest of us. HETFIELD: I was. I had to have a bottle of Vodka just for fun. I'm surprised I'm still alive. NEWSTED: That's a tough call. Fist for fist, I think Lars. He can take it to a different place, because he's Danish. They get conditioned real early. ULRICH: [LAUGHS] I had much more of the binge mentality; I'd go every night for three days, then I wouldn't touch a drop for the next four. NEWSTED: James is the only one that ever drank so much he couldn't show up for a rehearsal or for photos. He is the only one who ever actually poisoned himself. HAMMETT: Jason's not so much of a drinker as the rest of us are. He likes to smoke pot. PLAYBOY: People who like fast music usually like fast drugs. Did the band get into speed? HAMMETT: Speed is a bad word in our camp. But speed freaks love us. ULRICH: James is the only one who never really engaged in any kind of drug abuse. Me, Jason, Kirk and Cliff were always experimenting with different things to a higher degree. HAMMETT: Cocaine has definitely been in our lives. You hang out with other musicians, and next thing you know, you have five guys crammed into a bathroom stall. I had a bad coke problem on the And Justice For All tour, but I pulled out of that, because it makes me depressed, basically. I tried smack once. I was so thankfull that I hated it. ULRICH: I tried acid once; I was shit-fucking scared. The only drug I've ever really engaged in is cocaine. It gave me another couple of hours of drinking. A lot of people use it as a way to get closer to you, and you fall for that. I go through cycles where I say, "OK, I'm going to pull away for a while." And then I take six months away. PLAYBOY: Jason, as time went on, did the band stop hazing you? NEWSTED: They actually got tougher as time went on. The second and third years were the most brutal. Instead of fraternity pranks, there were things that cut deep and were based on disrespect. PLAYBOY: What did they do that was disrespectful? NEWSTED: Turning the bass down on And Justice For All. Not listening to my ideas, musically. PLAYBOY: Is Jason even on And Justice For All? HETFIELD: His picture is on it [big laugh]. Someone sent me a joke CD, with a sticker on the outside that says, "And Justice For All - now with bass!" ULRICH: It's the only record of ours that I'm not entirely comfortable with. It became about ability and almost athletics, rahter than music. PLAYBOY: Bands are usually like families, and it sounds like this familiy fights a whole lot. HAMMETT: There are a lot of soap operas and petty dramas that come with being in this band. I find myself playing referee. I've been the buffer between James and Lars, I've been the buffer between Lars and Jason. HETFIELD: Lars' name keeps getting brought up, doesn't it? [laughs] He's usually the instigator, with his mouth. He can be a real ass at times, and pull attitudes. I punched him onstage once - probably our third gig ever. We agreed we were going to play Let It Loose for our encore, and he went up there and started a different song, Killing Time, because it started with drums. I turned back: "You motherfucker!" I couldn't remember the lyrics, it was a complete failure. ULRICH: I started the song I wanted to play. I don't remember why - maybe I felt it was a more suitable encore. And then he punched me. HETFIELD: I remember throwing him into his drum kit a couple of times, throwing some cymbals, cutting his head open. ULRICH: I've gotten into a couple of fights with Jason. HAMMETT: I've never hit anyone in the band. I practice a lot of yoga now, and read a lot of Eastern philosophy. I'm a huge believer in karma: no meat, no beef, no swine, no fowl. HETFIELD: I'm definitely not the smartest guy in the band, so winning an intellectual argument is not going to happen. Resorting to violence used to work. And intimidation. HAMMETT: When James comes at you screaming, he can be intimidating. PLAYBOY: A lot of things have happened to Metallica. Does that mean the band has bad karma? HAMMETT: Quite possibly. Goddamn it, we've been through a lot of things. It has to be karma. I don't know if it's the energy our songs release. People channel the energy of our music - 90 percent of the time it's good, but maybe 10 percent of the time it's bad. I've heard stories of skinheads listening to our music and fucking tattooing song titles on their arms with big swastikas underneath. Maybe it's just personal karma. Maybe the reason James has had so many accidents is because of his own personal karma, and it affects the band. PLAYBOY: How would you describe the change that came after And Justice for All, starting with the Black Album? ULRICH: The earlier records were about brute force, stuff like that. As James became more comfortable, elements of vulnerability and confusion came across, with less banging-on-the-chest type of stuff. Instead of "It's fucked up and I'm going to kill everything in my wake", it was more like, "It's fucked up and I'm really suffering from it." HETFIELD: On the Black Album, when I went to write lyrics, I didn't know what the fuck to write about. I was trying to write lyrics that the band could stand behind - but we are four completely different individuals. So the only way to go was in. PLAYBOY: Of all the stuff you wrote James, what was the song you most hesitated over recording? HETFIELD: Nothing Else Matters. That was a huge turning point. It was sensitive. PLAYBOY: In theme, Nothing Else Matters is kind of like the Styx song Babe. HETFIELD: Fuck you. Fuck you very much [smiles]. I didn't think the band would like it. But they were really supportive about it. HAMMETT: All I could think of at the time was, James wrote a fucking love song to his girlfriend? That's just weird. NEWSTED: At first, it didn't sound very much like Metallica to me. I like the fast heavy stuff. I don't think Metallica should do country. We came pretty close to it on Mama Said (from Load). I don't think that tasted very good to me. HAMMETT: James always wants to be perveived as this guy who is very confident and strong. And for him to write lyrics like that - showing a sensitive side - took a lot of balls. Lars, Jason and I were going through divorces. I was an emotional wreck. I was trying to take those feeling of guilt and failure and channel them into the music, to get something positive out of it. Jason and Lars were too, and I think that has a lot to do with why the Black Album sounds the way it does. PLAYBOY: Before, you had been one of the more popular heavy metal bands. But with the Black Album, you became mainstream. NEWSTED: Once we hit MTV, better-looking girls started coming to the shows. Just overnight. HAMMETT: It sounds like a cliche, but girls like melody, they like soft, pretty songs. And if that's what it took to bring them into our little trap, more power to it. PLAYBOY: Do you think- HETFIELD: No. I like to not think. PLAYBOY: Only a few albums have sold more than 10 million copies. Do you think the Black Album is the band's best record? HETFIELD: There are some songs on there I don't like. Through The Never was a little wacky. Don't Tread on Me, probably not one of my favorite songs musically. Holier Than Thou was one of the sillier songs, more the old style of writing. PLAYBOY: When Load came out next, you guys had short hair and were wearing makeup and trendy clothes. It was quite a change from the denim and mullets. HAMMETT: It was just a phase. It was the zeitgeist of the moment. Who knows? We might do something even more complex in the future. PLAYBOY: Like Hetfield in a dress? HAMMETT: I think that would be extreme [laughs]. HETFIELD: I let Lars and Kirk take over a little on the image front. I really don't like looking at it now. Our fans go, "What happened to Metallica, the rebel, longhair, greasy biker, fuck-you band?" Now it was U2 or Stone Temple Pilots, or some band relying on an image. What the fuck did we need that for? That was just stupid. Jason and I were really not into it - Kirk and Lars were gung ho. You either laugh about it or you get wound up. I'm doing both, actually. PLAYBOY: You guys were kind of handsome without the mullets. HETFIELD: Come on! Mullets rule. Dude, I wanted to have long hair and short hair at the same time. HAMMETT: I never had a mullet, OK? NEWSTED: I'm not going to fess to the mullet for more than like three months in 1987. ULRICH: It was probably only James who had a mullet. PLAYBOY: Well, it sure looks like a mullett you're wearing on the inner sleeve of Garage INC., Lars. What if James grew back his mullet? HAMMETT: If he does, I'm going to dye my hair pink. "You can have a funny haircut? So can I!" PLAYBOY: James, you're progun and proenvironment. Did you vote for Al Gore? HETFIELD: No. I'm afraid of someone taking my guns away. PLAYBOY: Then did you vote for Bush? HETFIELD: No. You have to go into the city to vote. So I'm not going to vote. PLAYBOY: You describe drinking and performing as therapeutic. Have you ever been in real therapy? HETFIELD: [Nods] Around the time of Load, I felt I wanted to stop drinking. "Maybe I'm missing out on something. Everyone else seems so happy all the time. I want to get happy." I'd plan my life around a hangover: "The Misfits are playing in town Friday night, so Saturday is hangover day." I lost a lot of days in my life. Going to therapy for a year,I learned a lot about myself. There's a lot of things that scar you when you're growing up, you don't know why. The song Bleeding Me is about that: I was trying to bleed out all bad, get the evil out. While I was going through therapy, I discovered some ugly stuff in there. A dark spot. PLAYBOY: So did the biggest drinker in Alcohollica stop drinking? HETFIELD: I took more than a year off from drinking - and the skies didn't part. It was just life, but less fun. The evil didn't come out. I wasn't laughing, wasn't having a good time. I realized, drinking is a part of me. Now I know how far to go. You can't be hungover when you got kids, man. "Dad, get the fuck off the couch!" Well, they don't say that - yet. PLAYBOY: Did you ever go to AA? HETFIELD: I wouldn't say I'm an alcoholic - but then, you know, alcoholics say they're not alcoholics. PLAYBOY: By then, you were spending more time with your father. How did that go? HETFIELD: It started off really bad. Very mad at him for making the family the way it was. It was never a real father-son kind of thing again. HAMMETT: James used to be a raging, out-of-control drunk, alway fighting, always getting into trouble. He's a lot more patient now. I think a lot of that had to do with the passing of his father [in 1996, during the Load tour]. After that, he was just a lot more appreciative, thoughtful and compassionate. PLAYBOY: James strikes us as kind of an enlightened redneck. HAMMETT: I'll agree with that 100 percent. He lives a certain lifestyle that's easy to poke fun at: He lives out in the country, drinks a lot of beer, has a bunch of guns, goes hunting. HETFIELD: I eat vegetables, too, man. They're just too easy to kill. Carrots don't get a chance to run. I think animals are there for us. We're on top of the food chain. PLAYBOY: Maybe you should have a hunting trip with one of the bands that supports PETA, like the Indigo Girls. HETFIELD: Which one should I kill first? Oh, them hunting with me? PLAYBOY: Are you uncomfortable with the degree of homophobia in metal? ULRICH: Totally. Ultimately, why do me and Kirk stick our tongues down each other's throat once in a while in front of the camera? The metal world needs to be fucked with as much as possbile. When the band started, everybody would sit around proving their heterosexuality by gay-bashing and stuff like that. Like, "Oh, fucking faggot." Does that elevate you to some greater he-man status? I never understood that. PLAYBOY: We've heard James use the word fag jokingly. Does that mean he's homophobic? HAMMETT: Um, probably. James hasn't had a lot of experience with gay people, and that's a large reason for being homophobic. He needs to be enlightened in that area. ULRICH: I know he's homophobic. Let there be no question about that. I think homophobia is questioning your sexuality and not being comfortable with it. PLAYBOY: For the first time in years, there are a lot of metal bands on top of the charts. Most of them are pretty bad, aren't they? HAMMETT: There's a lot of fucking crap. A lot of regurgitated stuff, too. That Papa Roach song (Last Resort), the main riff is from a fucking Iron Maiden song called Hallowed By Thy Name. HETFIELD: Limp Bizkit seems a little cartoony to me. I don't like some guy just yelling. Like Rage Against the Machine - it wasn't singing, it was just some guy kind of pissed off, telling you his opinion. HAMMETT: To me, Limp Bizkit sounds like a second-rate Korn. Korn has a much better vocalist who is somewhat intelligent. A lot of these bands get the right ingredidents, the right formula, and - voila - they have a metal band. A band like Godsmack is just a cross between Metallica and Alice in Chains, with a bit of Korn thrown in. HETFIELD: Queens of the Stone Age is unique. This band Rocket From the Crypy makes me feel good. PLAYBOY: Three of you are married, two of you have kids. What has changed? NEWSTED: Five years ago, the band took priority over all other things. Now, families comes first. I understand that. A family is more important. I'm the only one who's not married, and music still plays the biggest part in my life. I mean, Black Sabbath is my number one band of all time, but Metallica has done more for metal. Metallica is the biggest heavy metal band there has ever been. I want to keep that strong. But Metallica is only one part of my musical life, OK? Those guys will be happy taking six months away from the music. They have other things on their minds. If I even try to go sis days without playing with somebody, I have anxiety-type things happen. PLAYBOY: It sounds like this sabbatical is frustrating to you. NEWSTED: Yes. James and Lars started this thing together. They came through all of the hardshpis. And they have serious, written-in-stone feelings about the band, about how it needs to be run. That's very, very hard to swallow sometimes. I guess our understanding is that we don't want to be like other bands, where people go off and do side projects. I have made some incredibly wonderful music with other musicians. It would just floor people - it has floored people. But I just can't release it. PLAYBOY: James and Lars won't let you? NEWSTED: It's not Lars. HETFIELD: We just disagree about side projects. Fans have always viewed Metallica as something they can rely on: We're always there, always strong. We've been the same guys since day one, essentially. The only way you can get out of this band is if you die. When you say Metallica, you know who that is: Lars, James, Kirk and - uh, what's that guy? Jason [laughs]. When someone does a side project it takes away from the strength of Metallica. So there is a little ugliness lately. And it shouldn't be discussed in the press. NEWSTED: James Hetfield is the heart and soul and pride of Metallica, the protector of the name. I'm not out to disrespect him. PLAYBOY: But he could respect you by letting you release the album? NEWSTED: We're getting really close to some things we shouldn't be talking about. I would like him to see that this music is truly a part of me, like his child is a part of him. PLAYBOY: What did James say when you told him that you wanted to release the album? NEWSTED: I won't go there. We have to change the subject. HETFIELD: Where would it end? Does he start touring with it? Does he sell t-shirts? Is it his band? Thats the part I don't like. It's like cheating on your wife in a way. Married to each other. PLAYBOY: So what is Jason supposed to do during the hiatus? HETFIELD: I don't fucking know. I'm not his travel agent. HAMMETT: I just hope we can survive this in one piece without tearing each other's fucking throats out. PLAYBOY: Lars, do you think that Jason should be able to release his album? ULRICH: I wouldn't be able to look him in the eye and go, "You can't put that record out." That's not who I am as a person. That's pretty much all I have to say. I just can't get caught up in these meltdowns. I've got some issues in my family life, with my wife, that are a little more weighty than, like, whatever James Hetfield and Jason Newsted are bickering over. PLAYBOY: What if Jason were to put it out anyway? HETFIELD: I don't know. I would disappoint me a lot. PLAYBOY: How is the record? HAMMETT: It's a great album. ULRICH: It's a nice record, very bluesy, like a poppier version of Stevie Ray Vaughan's stuff. HETFIELD: It's respectable. HAMMETT: I've spoken with Jason for hours on end. I'm upset for him. James demands loyalty and unity, and I respect that, but I don't think he realizes the sequence of events he's putting into play. Jason eats, sleeps and breathes music. I think it's morally wrong to keep someone away from what keeps him happy. That album will always be available in some format - whether it's on Napster or in stores, people are going to hear it. PLAYBOY: Wouldn't it be funny if Jason released his album on Napster? HAMMETT: It would be fucking ironic as shit. HETFIELD: I don't mind being looked at as the asshole in the band. Well, within the band. As long as the fans think Lars is the asshole, that's fine [laughs]. NEWSTED: James is on quite a few records: In the South Park movie, when Kenney goes to hell, James is singing, and he's on just about every Corrosion of Conformity album. That's a shot at him, but I'm going to keep it. I can't play my shit, but he can go play with other people. HETFIELD: My name isn't on those records. And I'm not out trying to sell them. PLAYBOY: You want loyalty and unity in the band, but if you're too much of a dictator, you can end up losing band members. We've got three words for you: Guns n' Roses. HETFIELD: Those are three ugly words[laughs].They were a prime example of egos out of hand. We're definitely not in a Guns n' Roses situation. It would never get like that. I'd kill us all before that happened. PLAYBOY: It's three against one here: You're the only one against letting Jason release his record. Can this conflict be worked out? HETFIELD: Some of us are just going to have to bend a little. PLAYBOY: Or bend over. HETFIELD: My back hurts, so it won't be me. PLAYBOY: Do all these conflicts actually help the band? ULRICH: You've used the word conflict a lot in the last 15 minutes. Ultimately, we have a love and respect for each other that supersedes the bickering. The key thing is, we're fucking still here. And we're the only ones that are still here. For whatever conflicts you keep talking about, we still find a way to exist as a working unit, and pretty much at the drop of a dime go onstage and kick everybody else's ass. PLAYBOY: Is this just the usual tension within Metallica, or is it worse now? ULRICH: That's a great question. It's an interesting time to interview the four of us separately. You're hearing people get things off their chest - almost using you as the middleman. Like, James and Jason won't call each other, so they're having a conversation through you. PLAYBOY: You and James haven't talked, either. ULRICH: I haven't spoken to him for a while, that's true. HETFIELD: He hasn't called me. I'm sure he'll say I haven't called him. ULRICH: It's a little bit of the rock star stubbornness. Like, "He's not calling, so I'm not going to call him. Fuck him." HETFIELD: We both need time away; me and that fucking guy have been togheter for 20 years, man. It's an extreme love-hate thing, you know? ULRICH: We've been in this scenario a hundred times before. On the road sometimes, we don't speak to each other for a week. Me and James Hetfield are the two most opposite people on this planet. PLAYBOY: Your wife, Skylar, used to date Matt Damon, and he made her the model for the female lead in Good Will Hunting. A few years ago, Matt described you as "a fucking rock star who's got $80 million and his own jet - a bad rock star, too." ULRICH: He said that before we met. And he's apologized about a hundred times. The first five times I saw him, he would spend 10 minutes apologizing profusely. He really is a sweetheart. PLAYBOY: And you're an art collector, which is an unusual hobby for a metal drummer. What schools do you collect? ULRICH: Abstract expressionism, the Cobra movement, art brut. I own a lot of Basquiat, a lot of Dubuffret, a lot of de Kooning. I have the best collection of Asger Jorn on this planet. I have what is universally considered as one of the two greatest Basquiat paintings; I spent a year and a half chasing it down. Hanging out backstage with Kid Rock is an amazing turn-on, no less so than sitting and staring at my Dubuffet for an hour with a fucking gin and tonic. PLAYBOY: Tell us about the summer 1992 tour with Guns n' Roses, when a pyrotechnic explosion set you on fire during a show in Montreal. How bad were the burns? HETFIELD: It was down to the bone. My hand looked like hamburger. No matter how much water you poured on it, the pain came back instantly. The most painful part was the physical therapy - they would scrape off the skin with a tongue depressor. It was brutal. I was on pills, too, and it still hurt like a motherfucker. PLAYBOY: Speaking of pain, do you ever get headaches? HETFIELD: Are you saying it's too loud? It's got to be loud. You're supposed to feel it all over. PLAYBOY: Metallica toured a lot less than usual last year. NEWSTED: We did maybe 30 or 40 shows, and that's probably the least we have ever done. Metallica usually does from 150 to 250 shows in a year. HAMMETT: I have no qualms about not doing yearlong tours anymore. ULRICH: Ten years ago, we wanted to play as many gigs as possible and have as much debaucherous fun as possible. Now, playing 200 shows in North Dakota is not as stimulating as it used to be. Sometimes it's great being onstage, and other times the show themselves become totally mediocre and you're just sort of floating through them. The older we get, and the shorter we tour, the better we are. PLAYBOY: How much longer can the band go on, given how physical the music is? NEWSTED: It's limited. People won't ever see me weak, won't ever see me just standing there onstage. When the day comes that I cannot perform, I will bow out. That's it. HETFIELD: A gray mullet would look all right. PLAYBOY: Are there any tricks to writing a Metallica song? NEWSTED: About 90 percent of Metallica songs are in E minor, because of James' vocal range is limited - although he's developed by leaps and bounds. PLAYBOY: Any chance Metallica will follow the rap-metal direction? NEWSTED: No. No rap in Metallica. ULRICH: The chances of James Hetfield going in a rap direction are probably between zero and minus one. PLAYBOY: From your perspective as a Metallica fan, Jason, it must be interesting to see James continue to evolve since Nothing Else Matters. NEWSTED: Where there was darkness before, now thers's a lot of light, since James' children entered the picture. The darkness will always be there, because of the damage done, but there's a big bright spot now. HAMMETT: We can't sing about flowers and happy shiny days, you know? PLAYBOY: So, James, will the next batch of songs be happy? HETFIELD: Yeah, I'll start writing about my house and family and dog. Look, there's always got to be some turmoil to write, and now, within the band, there might be some pretty good fuel. PLAYBOY: On the next record, we can expect a song called - HETFIELD: Side Project [laughs]. There's always something that's going to piss you off. Something you'd like to change. Something that confuses you. All I have to do is go to San Francisco for one day - I get pissed off enough for a week. PLAYBOY: You're happily married, the father of two, you've been to therapy. You even wrote a love song. Can you still find the dark spot? HETFIELD: I know it's there, and how it got there. I can visit it and leave again. It's a dark spot you can't wash off.