Be­cause the UK has gone ’tal­lica wild this week, we thought it best to head over to France to sam­ple the band’s World­wired… tour early, be­fore count­ing down their 25 best jams


Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: NICK RUSKELL pho­tos: paul HAR­RIES

‘ Ileft my heart in San Fran­cisco,’ goes the song, a love let­ter from croon­ing lounge lizard Tony Ben­nett to his favourite city. Coin­ci­den­tally enough, Kirk Ham­mett, a son of Frisco him­self, has a sim­i­lar story about one of his own favourite places: Lon­don.

Ex­cept it wasn’t his heart he left there, it’s not a ro­man­tic tale, and we doubt Tony meant it quite so lit­er­ally or as blood­ily as this.

“I had to have an emer­gency ap­pendix re­moval in Lon­don,” laughs Me­tal­lica’s gui­tarist.“we were do­ing press there, and I was bent dou­ble in first I thought it was a han­gover, but it was just get­ting worse and worse. I called my wife and said,‘i’ve got re­ally bad in­di­ges­tion or some­thing,’ and she told me to go and get an elec­tric blan­ket and put it on my stom­ach. But what that did was, it cooked my ap­pendix! So I called down to the front desk and said, ‘I need to get a doc­tor.’ He came and said,‘you’re re­ally, re­ally bad.we can’t call an am­bu­lance be­cause it’ll take too long. I’m go­ing to have to take you to the hospi­tal my­self.’ He took me to St Thomas’ hospi­tal in his car, and I had to go straight into surgery there and then and get it re­moved.”

One lucky fan even got the thrill of think­ing they’d won a piece of gen­uine Me­tal­lica of­fal (“We gave it away as a

con­test prize, but it was just a sausage in a jar!” hoots Kirk). But as manky as this story is, it’s just one of many anec­dotes the men of Me­tal­lica have about their spe­cial re­la­tion­ship with our green and pleas­ant land. From the in­flu­ence and in­spi­ra­tion drawn from early Bri­tish metal heroes and get­ting Ker­rang! on im­port be­fore they were even signed, to head­lin­ing Don­ing­ton for the first time and us­ing the UK as a prov­ing ground for not one, but two new bassists, via low-key, gold-dust ticket shows that have taken their right­ful places as ma­jor chap­ters in Me­tal­lica lore, the band are as at home in Lon­don as at their HQ in San Fran­cisco. Hell, it was (in part) a teenaged Lars Ul­rich’s “pil­grim­age” here in the sum­mer of 1981 that so­lid­i­fied his de­sire to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic, rather than ten­nis, af­ter spend­ing sev­eral weeks punt­ing around with the cream of the New Wave Of Bri­tish Heavy Metal move­ment like Di­a­mond Head, Iron Maiden and Motör­head.

We’re talk­ing about all this not in a Lon­don boozer (de­spite Kirk’s pro­fessed love for “Bri­tish bit­ter and Carls­berg Spe­cial Brew” the first time he vis­ited the UK), but in Lyon, France, at the start of the Euro­pean leg of their globe-strad­dling World­wired Tour. But they’re com­ing. Oh yes, Me­tal­lica are com­ing.and this will be their first proper UK tour, in proper venues, since 2009. No fes­ti­vals. No tiny, se­cret, one-off things. Just Me­tal­lica, the UK’S biggest are­nas, and tens of thou­sands of fans go­ing apeshit on a real al­bum tour.tonight, as a chargedup James Het­field bel­lows “Me­tal­lica loves you, Lyon!” from a 360-de­gree, in-the-round stage, above which ap­pear some of the most eye-melt­ing vi­su­als this band have ever had, it gets the stan­dard gi­ant roar in re­turn. But you can’t help feel­ing that when he does it in Lon­don or Manch­ester, he’s go­ing to be hit with a bill for fix­ing the roof. Get ready, UK: Me­tal­lica are com­ing home…

When you put the word ‘An­glophile’ to Lars Ul­rich, he turns it over in his mouth like a good wine, even­tu­ally smil­ing and nod­ding in some­thing of agree­ment.a favourite place of his to stay is Clar­idges, the old-fash­ioned Lon­don ho­tel where the door­men still wear top hats and the dress code stip­u­lates “No ripped jeans, vests or base­ball caps”. He lists Oa­sis’ Def­i­nitely Maybe as a favourite record, and Glas­ton­bury as a favourite fes­ti­val (“It’s un­like any other fes­ti­val. I like to go and just lose the world for a few days…”).

The first time Lars Ul­rich came here, it was for mu­sic. Me­tal­lica weren’t even a band then; they hadn’t even met one another. But it was dur­ing that hol­i­day in 1981 that the young Lars re­alised that start­ing a band was def­i­nitely go­ing to the top of his ‘to-do’ list. Al­ready a big mu­sic fan, he’d read about bands com­ing out of the UK in the Bri­tish weekly mu­sic press he’d get on im­port in his lo­cal record shop.

“The week­lies were re­ally im­por­tant,” he ex­plains, loung­ing on a sofa in one of the arena’s many back­stage rooms. “Ker­rang!, Sounds, Melody Maker… that’s where you’d hear about a lot of new bands, and what was com­ing out. It was a good source of in­for­ma­tion.there would be ad­verts where you could or­der records on im­port, too, which was im­por­tant, be­cause a lot of those records didn’t come out in the States.”

It’s dif­fi­cult to over­state the im­por­tance on the bud­ding Me­tal­lica of the New Wave Of Bri­tish Heavy Metal – a phrase Lars and his fu­ture com­rades read in the pages of Sounds, coined by fu­ture Ker­rang! founder Ge­off Bar­ton to group to­gether the swell of new metal tal­ent com­ing out of the UK in the early 1980s. Lars had spent that sum­mer of ’81 ab­sorb­ing a lot of it first hand, hav­ing been to see Stour­bridge met­allers Di­a­mond Head and hit­ting it off with them so well that he ended up crash­ing at one of their houses, spend­ing the fol­low­ing weeks hang­ing out with them and go­ing out to shows.when, af­ter his re­turn to the States, he’d de­cided to start a band of his own, it was in the vein of bands like Iron Maiden, Priest,venom and – most no­tably, if you lis­ten to some of the riffs on Kill ’Em All – Di­a­mond Head. It was even a bit of NWOBHM merch that first brought Lars to a la­bel’s at­ten­tion.

“The first time I met Brian Slagel from Metal Blade was out­side a show where he was sell­ing fanzines,” re­calls Lars.“i was wear­ing a Saxon shirt, and he came over and started speak­ing to me be­cause he’d never seen any­one in a Saxon shirt be­fore. He didn’t re­ally know any­one else who knew who they were. So we got talk­ing pretty quickly and found we had a lot in com­mon.”

Bonded over their love of Barns­ley’s finest, Brian agreed to put Lars’ band on one of his la­bel’s com­pi­la­tions (de­spite not re­ally hav­ing any recorded mu­sic or, ac­tu­ally, a solid line-up yet).

Quickly, the Amer­i­can metal un­der­ground took to Me­tal­lica. But it was on their in­au­gu­ral trip to Lon­don in 1984 that they made their first re­ally big splash, when they played two nights at the Mar­quee Club, at the end of a jaunt around Europe with Venom. Kirk Ham­mett re­mem­bers, pre-tour, he’d seen de­monic Venom front­man Cronos “take a bite out of a glass and chew on it”.there would be no glass eat­ing on tour, but the Mar­quee shows were im­por­tant for a num­ber of rea­sons. First, um…

“We also all went down to Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket and bought black stretch pants,” re­mem­bers Kirk, to­day (sadly) not wear­ing stretch pants as he re­laxes in the band’s ‘Tun­ing Room’ where they jam to get in the zone be­fore shows.“a cou­ple of us bought leather jack­ets, the time, peo­ple in Lon­don still had full-on mo­hawks and ar­chi­tec­tural hair de­signs. I dis­tinctly re­mem­ber this one guy who had

James Het­field’s pen­cils had a short life-ex­pectancy

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