Metallica shakes it up

Metallica's (from left) Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo and James Hetfield.
Metallica's (from left) Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo and James Hetfield.PHOTO: AEG LIVE

The heavy metal band will perform in Singapore as part of their tour for an upcoming album

Legendary heavy metal band Metallica are returning to Singapore on Jan 22, just four years after they played to 40,000 fans at the Changi Exhibition Centre.

Their only stop in South-east Asia will see them performing at the smaller capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium as part of the tour for their upcoming album Hardwired... To Self-Destruct, that will be released on Nov 18.

This will be the third time here for the band from San Francisco that formed in 1981. Even before the album is released, the band - made up of lead singer and guitarist James Hetfield, 53, drummer Lars Ulrich, 52, lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, 53, and bassist Robert Trujillo, 52 - are already on tour in the Americas. They have hit cities such as Puerto Rico and Mexico City, with shows in Colombia, Guatemala and Costa Rica to come.

It is a warm-up of sorts before they arrive in Asia for a six-show run in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and one other Asian country, starting in January.

Speaking to The Straits Times via telephone from Quito, Ecuador, the band's co-founder Ulrich admits that preparing for a record release is different from how it was just two or three decades ago.

  • BOOK IT / METALLICA WORLDWIRED TOUR 2017

  • WHERE: Singapore Indoor Stadium, 2 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: Jan 22, 8pm

    ADMISSION: Standing ($288, $358), seated ($158, $228, $248) via www.sportshubtix.sg, all SingPost outlets or ticketing hotline 3158-8588. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday at 10am.

"Twenty to 30 years ago, there was a right way and wrong way to do things, but now it's just what suits you the best because it's a whole new game out there," he says.

"It's almost like the music business is the Wild West now; you kind of roll the dice and hope it all works out the best way possible."

While it took 20 years for the band to return to Singapore in 2013 after their first show in 1993, the decision to return speedily this time is a reflection of how the band of 35 years is adapting and keeping up with the times.

"There's a tendency to (kick off the tour) in America, Western Europe or more expected places, but we just like to shake it up in Metallica," he says.

The band have also been active on social media platforms such as Facebook Live, most recently live- streaming a question-and-answer session from Mexico City, and sharing behind-the-scenes photos from their music video shoots on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

"We like to stay active on social media. It's fun to do stuff where it instantly shows up all over the world," he says.

Ulrich is pragmatic about having this constant dialogue with fans via social media. "You have to accept the way that the world is spinning," he adds.

They are also dealing with a different beast in the social media sphere - YouTube.

"Now that YouTube is the world's biggest television station, we figured we may as well knock a video out for every song (on the new album)," he reveals.

Mega pop stars such as Justin Bieber and Beyonce have done the same, releasing full-length music videos for all the tracks on their 2015 releases Purpose and Lemonade. The first two videos for the singles off Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, namely Hardwired and Moth Into Flame, have already been released.

The band have been filming the remaining videos for their 10th studio album in between promotions and touring.

Ulrich describes getting the videos done as a "giant undertaking".

He says: "The practicality of shooting 12 music videos is kind of crazy, especially when you're trying to promote your record, and you're all over the place, and trying to make sure it doesn't leak. It's crazy but, at the same time, fun."

The upcoming album, their first in eight years after 2008's Death Magnetic, was written in the last 15 months and has been described as a return to the band's thrash metal roots based off the first two singles. But he eschews such labels saying it is a "varied album with lots of new ideas".

"I don't know if it's the return to anything specific other than it's just the next album in our musical journey," he says matter-of-factly.

With an intense tour schedule coming up, Ulrich says the band remain excited, partly because they have figured out a way to tour the world "in two-week increments".

"We go home every two weeks, see our families, see our kids, clear our heads and recharge our batteries," he says.

"We found that the model works well for us and that way, we avoid the fatigue or the burnout."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Metallica shakes it up'. Print Edition | Subscribe