Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Metallica's James Hetfield about Cliff Burton: "He's here in spirit"


Metallica frontman James Hetfield posted an interview on the band's official web site, you can read some excerpts below.


He said: "I'm not the guy that will like hang onto something like it's dear to my heart, like, 'Oh my God, if I ever lost this, I would die'. I got a bunch of stuff in storage, you know? And the thing with me is, like when I grew up, I kinda got moved around so it became a case of, 'Where did my stuff go?' I moved in with my brother, then I moved in with Ron McGovney and then this and that and my stuff just kinda… It's like, 'I don't need that, I don't want that,' and so stuff did get left behind. And I kind of just have been like that. I would quickly shred something that Lars Ulrich would probably cut his finger off to get, you know? So the fact that in my storage space there was some stuff… Look, it's one of those things. Back in the day, it was, 'Here's a box. Just throw it all in that.' And you close the box, and you throw it in storage. So there was some pretty cool stuff, pictures that people have given me over the years, that I'd thrown in my suitcase or bag or something, and not thought too much about later."

About if he was surprised when he was digging through the archives just to see some of the stuff that he unearthed, Hetfield said: "Oh, it's so cool. It's so cool. And it's amazing how a piece of paper, celluloid, something even like a ticket stub, a pass, it brings back a memory. It brings back just this nostalgic feeling, like, 'Oh my God, I really miss that time.' You know, 'Gosh, it was so simple and easy and la la la, and look how complicated it is now.' What it does for me is it makes me relax more now and not worry so much."

He continued: "I had some pictures of like trips that Lars and I have taken together. Not so much touring, but, you know, oh, God, we went up to Seattle with Metal Church and just hung out, you know, with Skitchy. There's pictures of me at a beach in Holland, Lars and I hanging out and it was a case of 'I don't remember that and there's these other people around. Who are these people? I don't even know, where are they now?'… And the obvious stuff too... things with Cliff Burton... like, 'Oh my God, that gig, that stage, we have the amps underneath the thing,' and just lots of cool memories, you know? And it just, it makes me grateful that somehow that picture came back into my life. Because I do miss those times. I miss Cliff a lot. I think about him quite often. But it also makes me realize that you know, he's here in spirit. He's not here physically, but there are people that are here physically, and let's have some good times now."

About if he thinks it's fair to say that he is possibly now relaxing into, and allowing himself, to finally grieve openly for Burton after maybe having locked it away for 20 or 25 years, Hetfield said: "Oh, there's no doubt about it. No doubt. We drank a lot. And then when Cliff passed away, it was doubled, you know? Took twice as much to stuff it down. And I never, ever really grieved. Obviously, we've talked about this, where we just went back out, started touring again, and that was supposedly the remedy to shake it off and to get back on the horse, all the clich├ęs. But you know, when I was in rehab in 2001, they said, 'You gotta hang out a couple more weeks because of the grieving. There's your mom and Cliff, the two people that you have never been able to grieve around. You gotta do some work on it.' So we did. And I think just by opening up to the memories, just by thinking about him, feeling his presence, that's how grieving is happening for me over a longer period of time."

He continued: "I miss him more as a person than as a musician, and that's different for me. You know, back in the day, he and I were pretty alike as far as things that we liked and things that we liked to do. I think I learned a lot from him, and I learned a lot after he passed. You know, 'What would Cliff do?' But I think I'm able to be more myself, and he taught me that, you know? He helped teach me that it's okay to be different and to stand up for what you believe in. You don't have to have all the ammo in the world to fight the war, just be you. That's enough."