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Metallica’s James Hetfield: I’m Really Proud That We Did ‘Lulu’ Album

Metallica James Hetfield
Ian Gavan, Getty Images

Metallica, like all bands, have had their share of missteps. However, there is nothing more polarizing amongst their fans than the collaboration with late Velvet Underground mastermind Lou Reed, Lulu. The reaction to the album took the thrash act by surprise, especially considering how nearly universally scathing the reviews and opinions were. Now four years removed from the experimental effort, James Hetfield has accepted the reaction, but still defends the record with a positive embrace.

The Metallica frontman spoke about Lulu with the band’s fan club magazine, So What!, prefacing it by stating, “We’ve been extremely either bullheaded or lucky or something. We’ve been maybe very jaded in that things have worked pretty well for us. We’re perfectionists. We’re really extremely self-critical. It’s gotten us to where we are, but it’s also the curse. When something doesn’t go right, I come down so hard on myself.”

Taking delight in being able to weather the storm that came after the album’s release, he continued, “Lulu wasn’t accepted as much as we accepted it. I’m really proud that we did it. It was fun, it was an adventure. And there are a lot of bands out there that do adventures that kill them, whether it’s choosing the wrong management or making a bad investment or something like that.”

Acknowledging that Metallica are not like other bands, he pridefully added, “We’ve got this dedication and loyalty to this band that no matter what, nothing can kill us. Whether it’s Cliff Burton [dying in a bus accident], Jason [Newsted] leaving, Some Kind Of Monster, the drama that’s going on now, there’s always something that we stick together with and survive through. So Lulu brought us together even more.” Failure tends to see bands drift apart, but Metallica use it as an opportunity to prove themselves time and time again.

Guitarist Kirk Hammett defended his admiration for the collaboration and ultimately dismissed the negativity surrounding it, stating, “I love that album to death. It’s unfortunate that other people don’t see it the same way as I do, but what can I do about it? I can’t do anything about it. I can just keep on loving it. And if people like it, great. If people don’t like it, that’s great too. It’s only music.”

In a previous interview with So What!, Hetfield discussed another one of the band’s failures: the Through the Never movie. He again accepted fault, but still remained hopeful that one day the film would be accepted and hold a positive place in Metallica history.

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