Album Sales Hit Historic Low, Falling Below Four Million Total Units Sold

Wiz Khalifa Visits Miami Radio Station

Wiz Khalifa – Photo: Larry Marano/Getty Images


Additionally, the digital side of the industry is struggling as streaming sites chip away at sales, Rolling Stone reported


The record industry has just had its worst week in decades. For the first time since Nielsen SoundScan began keeping track in 1991, album sales failed to reach the four-million-sold mark this week, totaling just 3.97 million. The week’s top seller, Wiz Khalifa’s Blacc Hollywood contributed just over 90,000, but after that, the Top 10 featured three other debuting albums that averaged only 31,000 each, Billboard reports. It’s worth noting, though, that this week’s numbers do not include the post-VMA sales bump for many artists. Those will be tallied on next week’s charts.Falling below the four million mark was inevitable, as sales totaling more than five million records sold have been a rarity so far in 2014. In fact, one of this summer’s biggest sellers was a soundtrack featuring previously available Seventies hits (Guardians of the Galaxy) that sold at the same pace as a Now! compilation. If not for that soundtrack’s surprise success, album sales may have dipped below four million weeks ago. By comparison, during this same week in 2014, album sales totaled 4.88 million.
The music industry has struggled in recent years as consumers have shifted from physical CDs to MP3s, but even the digital side has been hit hard in 2014: Digital album sales are down 11.7 percent for the year, and à la carte downloads are down another 12.8 percent according to Billboard. Illegal downloading has no doubt eroded much of those digital sales, but it’s the emergence of legal streaming sites like Spotify and Pandora that has also chipped away at overall sales. Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” had 544,000 digital sales this week partly because the track isn’t available on Spotify, forcing fans to download the song (or watch it on YouTube, where it has already accrued 46 million views).
While the music industry has struggled to capture even five million units sold per week in 2014, things look slightly more optimistic in the months to come thanks to new releases from bona fide album movers like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett, Lil Wayne, Foo Fighters and Pink Floyd. Those albums, and Adele’s eventual LP, will help resuscitate things. However, if current trends continue, 2015 promises to be an even gloomier year sales wise for the music companies.
Maybe yes, maybe not.

Four Myths About the Bowe Bergdahl Swap That Must Be Destroyed

Don’t believe everything you hear when it comes to the return of the highest profile American POW in a generation.

A video still shows the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (right) to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan. AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video Read more: Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook

A video still shows the handover of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (right) to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.
AP Photo/Voice Of Jihad Website via AP video 


June 5, 2014 1:55 PM ET

The return of U.S. prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Guantanamo-held Taliban of varying importance has become the most important foreign policy story in the country this week. As a result, there has been a lot of great reporting on what the swap does and doesn’t mean, how it happened, and how it could affect the war in the future.

Read Rolling Stone‘s 2012 feature on Bowe Bergdahl, written by the late Michael Hastings

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of reporting that is either sensationalistic, simplistic or straight-up inaccurate. In trying to grapple with how the U.S. conducts matters of war, peace, and international law enforcement, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Below are four examples of things everybody seems to know, which just happened to be either incorrect or far from certain.

MYTH: This sets a dangerous precedent that the U.S. will negotiate with terrorists

In the first minutes after Bergdahl was released on May 31st, various media and political elites took up the all-too-predictable rallying cry that the U.S. doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. The claim – in this context – is absurd for at least three distinct reasons. Though the White House recently said the Taliban is on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists by executive order, the Taliban is not actually on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The distinction may be somewhat academic, but confusing or conflating the Taliban with Al Qaeda (as John McCain recently did on CNN) is bad analysis and bad policy. The Taliban is primarily a local political and military organization, and has demonstrated little or no interest in attacking U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

Second, the U.S. – and many other countries – in fact do negotiate with terrorists and other unseemly figures and organizations. This prisoner swap is far from unprecedented, and as President Obama said, this is what happens at the end of a war.

Third, as the Kabul-based journalist (and Rolling Stone contributor) Matt Aikins pointed out, “It’s a war, not a hostage crisis, dummies.” In a war, it’s generally better not to give an enemy an incentive to kill your side’s captured soldiers – which would be the perverse outcome of taking a strict “don’t negotiate” stance.

MYTH: These five Taliban are the hardest of the hardcore

Just as predictable as the first myth, this one will be even more difficult to destroy. Despite the 13-year occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. media and political establishment continues to see the country primarily through the black-and-white lens that George W. Bush so clearly laid out: “Either you’re with us or you’re with the terrorists.” One needn’t defend the Taliban to acknowledge that political and military allegiances in Afghanistan are often tenuous and shifting, and clear distinctions between friend and enemy are even more fraught in that country (especially under U.S. occupation) than in more conventional conflicts.

A post from the Afghan Analysts Network actually describes all five talibs and their relative significance in the Taliban, and casts serious doubts on the U.S. intelligence that was used to justify their detention.

“Fazl is the only one of the five to face accusations of explicit war crimes and they are, indeed, extremely serious. One would also want to say that Wasiq was deputy head of an agency which carried out torture – except that torture has always been carried out by Afghan intelligence whoever has been in charge and, indeed, this has been no bar to close cooperation with it by the U.S. and other countries since 2001. There is no or little evidence of criminal wrong-doing against the other three men.”

The same piece from AAN details how four of the five surrendered at the beginning of the U.S. invasion, “in return for promised safe passage home or had reached out to the new administration in Kabul.” In fact, virtually the entire Taliban surrendered within months of the invasion, leaving the U.S. military with a war but not an enemy.

Anand Gopal, who lived in Afghanistan for years and traveled to areas of the country few journalists go, details in remarkable clarity how that happened and then how the Taliban reconstituted itself in his new book, No Good Men Among the Living.

MYTH: Six to eight U.S. soldiers died looking for Bergdahl

Again, this talking point has incredible resonance, because it feels like the kind of thing that really could be true. But as The New York Times has noted, the facts are actually far less clear. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has commented that “I do not know of specific circumstances or details of U.S. solders dying as a result of efforts to find and rescue Sergeant Bergdahl.” And blaming Bergdahl’s disappearance for every death in Patika province during one of the most deadly periods in the war simply doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny. (As an aside, part of the reason we know what we know about Bergdahl’s disappearance comes from the Wikileaks trove provided by Army leaker Chelsea Manning – further evidence of how valuable that leak was and continues to be.)

MYTH: The swap shows Obama’s willful disregard for the law and his embracing of an imperial presidency

This is a tough one, because by virtually all accounts Obama did violate the law by negotiating Bergdahl’s release without Congress’ express permission. That’s a big deal, and a legitimate criticism of the swap – as opposed to the “don’t negotiate with terrorists” line, which is opportunistic, disingenuous and terrible policy. Recent reports from the Associated Press that the Taliban threatened to kill Bergdahl if news of the swap leaked certainly bolster the administration’s claims for the need for secrecy (even if they likely wouldn’t change the legality of ignoring the law).

But the real problem with seeing the swap as an example of Imperial Obama is that there are so many better examples that highlight his expansive interpretation of executive authority. Take, for instance, the extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki in 2011. Though that killing raised considerable levels of concern from human rights groups – and eventually some politicians – the controversy never rose to the level that the prison swap reached almost immediately this week.

Or take an even more troubling and recent example of Obama’s vast theories of presidential power – a Congressional hearing wherein two top lawyers couldn’t give clear examples of what powers the president would lose if Congress repealed the AUMF (the law passed immediately after 9/11 upon which virtually all military action since has rested). The administration seems to be claiming that under Article II of the Constitution, and under an incredibly broad and expansive definition of self-defense, they could continue to carry out drone strikes in Yemen and perhaps even continue to hold people in Guantanamo Bay even if the AUMF were repealed.

That’s all a way of saying: Obama using his claimed powers to free Guantanamo detainees troubles Congress greatly. Using those same powers to detain or kill people, apparently, isn’t nearly as concerning.

Fox News Blast Rolling Stone over the magazine decision to put Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on cover


“Retailers vow not to sell Rolling Stone issue as critics blast decision to put accused Boston bomber on cover”

Published July 18, 2013 /



At least five retailers with deep ties to New England will not sell the Rolling Stone magazine featuring an unsmiling, scruffy Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover.

The picture, which accompanies a story titled “Jahar’s World,” shows the 19-year-old accused murderer with his long, curly hair tousled, reminiscent of the magazine’s iconic shots of rock ‘n’ roll royalty like The Doors’ Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan.

The issue — which hits newsstands Friday — depicts Tsarnaev above a boldface headline, “The Bomber.” The story, which features interviews from childhood friends, teachers and law enforcement agents, promises to reveal how a “popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam, and became a monster.”

Several notable retailers, including CVS and Walgreens, have decided not to carry the issue in their stores.

“CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect,” the Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain said in a statement. “As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.”

“As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.”

– CVS/pharmacy

Other retailers who have said they will not carry the issue include Walgreens, Rite Aid, Stop & Shop, the grocery chain the Roche Bros and Tedeschi Food Shops, a Massachusetts-based convenience store chain.

Other critics of the cover, including Boston Mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, struck fast, accusing the magazine of offering Tsarnaev “celebrity treatment” and calling the cover “ill-conceived, at best” in a letter written by Menino to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner.

“The survivors of the Boston attacks deserve Rolling Stone cover stories, though I no longer feel that Rolling Stone deserves them,” the letter concluded.

Rolling Stone, for its part, issued a statement Wednesday saying the story was part of its “long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful” coverage of the most important current political and cultural issues.

“The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens,” the statement said.

Rolling Stone did not address whether the photo was edited or filtered in any way in a brief statement offering condolences to bombing survivors and the loved ones of the dead.

In a blog posting late Tuesday, Rolling Stone detailed “five revelations” in the story by contributing editor Janet Reitman, including Tsarnaev’s increasing devotion to Islam while still in high school, as well as his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s possible mental illness, which the boys’ mother decided would be better treated by Islam than by a psychiatrist.

“Around 2008, Jahar’s older brother Tamerlan confided to his mother that he felt like ‘two people’ were inside him,” the blog posting reads. “She confided this to a close friend who felt he might need a psychiatrist, but Zubeidat believed that religion would be the cure for her son’s inner demons and growing mental instability, and pushed him deeper into Islam.”

But the cover could send a dangerous message to Tsarnaev’s warped supporters, according to one critic.

“If they want to become famous, kill somebody,” Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin told

Putting convicted and alleged criminals on the covers of major magazines is justified if they are major news figures, according to Samir Husni, a journalism professor who heads the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. It’s digitally manipulating a photo that never is, Husin said.

“They’ll probably regret it later,” he said of Rolling Stone’s handling of its cover. “Even if it wasn’t doctored it’s going to bring those negative reactions.”

Supporters of Tsarnaev, who believe in the face of overwhelming evidence that he’s innocent of the charges against him, appeared last week during his federal court appearance in Boston. Some wore T-shirts with phrases like “Free the Lion,” while others held “Free Jahar” signs outside Boston’s John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse on Wednesday.

“Give Dzhokhar back his life,” one protester reportedly said.

“If you really cared about the victims you would be more interested in the truth,” said another Tsarnaev supporter.

The Rolling Stone cover quickly drew a negative reaction on social media, as “Boycott Rolling Stone” quickly became a trending Twitter topic in Boston.

“Very rarely does something make me so mad I have a negative tweet, but #BoycottRollingStone,” one user posted early Wednesday. “Absolutely unacceptable.”

Many other Twitter users indicated they would never purchase another Rolling Stone magazine.

“Way to glorify a madman,” another posting read.

The issue also drew condemnation from at least one of Tsarnaev’s alleged victims.

MBTA Transit Police Officer Richard “Dic” Donohue, who was allegedly shot and injured by the Tsarnaev brothers as they fled police, said in a statement he and his family felt the issue was “thoughtless at best.”

“I cannot and do not condone the cover of the magazine,” Donohue said.

Federal authorities allege that the Tsarnaev brothers planted two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15. The explosions killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Four days later, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who survived a shootout with police during which Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed, was captured following a day-long manhunt in the Boston suburb of Watertown.

Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty last week to 30 counts of a federal indictment. If the government decides to seek capital punishment, Tsarnaev could face the death penalty if convicted on one of 17 counts.

Rolling Stone’s statement was little consolation for James “Bim” Costello, 30, of Malden, Mass., who needed pig skin grafts on most of his right arm and right leg after the bombing. His body was pebbled with shrapnel, including nails he pulled out of his stomach himself. Three of his close friends lost legs that day and others suffered serious burns and shrapnel injuries.

“I think whoever wrote the article should have their legs blown off by someone,” struggle through treatment “and then see who they would choose to put on the cover,” Costello told The Associated Press.

The accompanying story, he said, “just seems like a cry for attention” from Rolling Stone.

The Inconvenient Image of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – By The New Yorker

By Ian Crouch

Photograph: Wenner Media / AP.

Photograph: Wenner Media / AP.

The magazine cover retains its unique cultural power—to amuse, to inform, to agitate, or, as is the case with the forthcoming August 1st issue of Rolling Stone, to enrage. That cover, unveiled on Tuesday night, features a photographic self-portrait of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who last week pleaded not guilty to thirty charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction to kill, and could face the death penalty for his alleged role in the April attack. The image accompanies a reported piece by Janet Reitman, which, according to a blog post published by the magazine, includes dozens of interviews with people who knew Tsarnaev and is “a riveting and heartbreaking account of how a charming kid with a bright future became a monster.” The full article was posted on Wednesday afternoon, two days earlier than originally planned, but public opinion regarding it, and the issue in which it appears, was already fixed earlier in the day. On the magazine’s Facebook page, thousands of comments express some version of what appears to be a popular refrain: “Rolling Stone, fuck you!” The cover has been called “shameful,” “disgusting,” “tasteless,” and a “slap in the face to America.” Boston public officials have issued similar appraisals: Mayor Thomas Menino called it “a total disgrace.” CVS, Walgreens, and other local retailers have promised not to sell the issue.

But just because something sparks outrage doesn’t mean that it is outrageous. Menino, on Wednesday, added that the cover, or perhaps the story itself, “should have been about survivors or first responders.” There have been many moving and illuminating stories about the victims of the marathon attack, and the people who selflessly came to their aid, but this is not one of them. Instead, the Rolling Stone article is about the still largely mysterious backstory of a young man who transformed, in what appears to be a short amount of time, from a seemingly normal college student into an alleged terrorist. The facts of his life are important, the larger social implications of his biography are important—and so this story has the potential to be a valuable contribution to the public record and to the general understanding of one of the most serious incidents of domestic terrorism in American history. And so, in the plainest terms, Rolling Stone chose to promote an article about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with a photo of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—one that other news outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, had previously published. It does not appear that the magazine altered the image in any meaningful way. Nor does the photograph convey an editorial opinion about the subject; the accompanying cover text, meanwhile, identifies Tsarnaev as a “monster.” It shows him as he looked when he allegedly killed four people and injured hundreds more.

Many commenters on Facebook have complained that the image gives Tsarnaev the “rock star” treatment—that his scruffy facial hair; long, curly hair; T-shirt; and soft-eyed glance straight at the camera all make him look like just another Rolling Stone cover boy, whether Jim Morrison or any of the many longhairs who appeared in the magazine’s nineteen-seventies heyday. But these elements are not engineered. What is so troubling about this image, and many of the others that have become available since April, is that Tsarnaev really does look like a rock star. In this way, the photograph on Rolling Stone is of a part with the often unexpected, and unsettling, portrait of Tsarnaev that has emerged over the past few months.

The earliest image, made available by the F.B.I. while Tsarnaev was still the target of a massive manhunt, showed him near the bomb site in a backward white baseball cap. He looked young, and chillingly anonymous, just another dude in a hat, a kind of bro-bomber. Then others surfaced: of him as a baby-faced young man; a shot of him at his high-school graduation, in a black robe with a red carnation pinned near his left shoulder; others of him smirking, smiling; one in which he wears aviator shades—the kinds of digital snapshots that every young American projects into the world. What we didn’t see, and what perhaps we longed to see in our grief, or anger, or confusion, were any familiar images of the Islamic terrorist. The stories didn’t match the crime, either: the pot-smoking kid, the skateboarder, the student at the diverse Cambridge high school, the anonymous undergrad at the state college. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, fit our expectations much better. He looked older and angrier, and the accompanying biographical information was consistent with the appearance: he was alienated, radicalized, adrift, and dangerous. But the police killed Tamerlan during that frightening night in Watertown. He is dead, and Dzhokhar is alive.

This may be the most inconvenient fact about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: that he has survived to face trial, and so to keep facing the rest of us who live in Boston, and in the rest of the country. On Wednesday, defenders of Rolling Stone pointed out that the magazine doesn’t only put musicians and celebrities on its cover: in 1970, it ran a cover piece about Charles Manson. Looking at that image now, Manson himself resembles something of a rock star of his time. And it was true then, too: much of what made him so terrifying had to do with the ways in which he was inseparable from his greater zeitgeist. Manson was a murderer and a kind of twisted celebrity, and in that way a forerunner to the modern terrorist. The angry commenters on Facebook today can be forgiven for not wanting to look at Tsarnaev, or preferring instead to think of the victims and the heroes, and for worrying about the ways in which some have elevated Tsarnaev as a martyr and an object of obsession. The photo on the cover of Rolling Stone is the same one that “Dzhokhar Is Innocent” advocacy groups and #FreeDzhokhar Web groupies, mostly young women, use to honor their cause and crush. Everyone, in this age, understands the power of images, and the ways in which that power can lead to troubling ends—including, as Paul Bloom wrote in a recent post, misdirected empathy for an alleged mass killer.

Yet the vitriol and closed-mindedness of the Web response to the Rolling Stone cover, before anyone had the chance to read the article itself, is an example of two of the ugly public outcomes of terrorism: hostility toward free expression, and to the collection and examination of factual evidence; and a kind of culture-wide self-censorship encouraged by tragedy, in which certain responses are deemed correct and anything else is dismissed as tasteless or out of bounds. The victims of the Boston Marathon bombing deserve our attention, and will continue to teach us about perseverance and the best parts of our common nature. But the dark stories of the bombing need to be told, too. And we need to hear them.

Photograph: Wenner Media/AP.

Metallica Are Back in Action with a Festival and 3D Movie

James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo talk about their upcoming big summer of firsts

By Rolling Stone
May 31, 2012 3:00 PM ET

This is a historic occasion. On a recent afternoon in their studio north of San Francisco, Metallica are playing the whole of their biggest album, 1991’s Metallica, a.k.a. the Black Album, in sequence for the first time. They are also playing it backward, starting with the emotionally wracked finale, “The Struggle Within,” and ending with the exultant menace of “Enter Sandman.” “It doesn’t say anywhere that if you play an album in its entirety, you have to play it front to back,” drummer Lars Ulrich contends.

This is a historic occasion. On a recent afternoon in their studio north of San Francisco, Metallica are playing the whole of their biggest album, 1991’s Metallica, a.k.a. the Black Album, in sequence for the first time. They are also playing it backward, starting with the emotionally wracked finale, “The Struggle Within,” and ending with the exultant menace of “Enter Sandman.” “It doesn’t say anywhere that if you play an album in its entirety, you have to play it front to back,” drummer Lars Ulrich contends.

Ulrich, singer-guitarist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo will perform the Black Album at their Orion Music + More festival, to be held June 23rd-24th in Atlantic City. They’ll also stomp through 1984’s Ride the Lightning, another first. As the members explain in these interviews, before and after practice, this is a summer of firsts. An eight-show run in Mexico City will feature an extravagant new stage that is a component of the 3D movie Metallica are developing with director Nimród Antal. And with Orion Music + More, Metallica are launching a personalized twist on the festival experience. Ulrich is programming a film tent; Hammett is the host of Kirk’s Crypt, devoted to his collection of horror-movie memorabilia. Everyone in the band had a loud say in the wide range of acts on the rest of the bill.

“Do your festival, do your movie – it’s all so cool,” Ulrich raves. “Variety is the spice of life.”

[Following are interviews with each band member.]

James Hetfield

James Hetfield of Metallica performs at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

This is a busy year for you, even without a new album. When you come to this studio, does it feel like your version of an office?

Not one bit. I look forward to coming here. It feels safe. It feels real. I can be my total self. Out there, not so much. When I get here, I feel grounded. I feel OK.

There was a different energy when we worked in other places. When we recorded in Denmark, we slept in the tape [storage] room. We’d wake up, go downstairs and record, then go upstairs and go to bed. But this is the ultimate. If you’re in a rock band, you want this. And we got it.

The place where we wrote [1986’s] Master of Puppets was over on Carlson Boulevard [in El Cerrito]. There was a garage where we never parked a car. There was a drum kit, a few amps – the smell of that carpet… ugh! It was going to be torn down, that historic little building [grins]. I wanted to buy it and put it in there [points to the recording room]. Put the old garage in our new garage. I had to let that one go.

After 30 years, a lot of bands would start slowing down. A lot of bands would say, “I wonder what 30 years feels like. We never made it.” There’s a lot of people who want us to stop. This is a gold-plated problem. Why would you stop? There are so many cool things still. I don’t want to say no to something and then think later on, “What an asshole. You missed out on something that is not coming again.”

Twenty years ago, a lot of those people thought you walked on water.

It’s mostly “They’re not doing the things I want them to. They made an album with Lou Reed. I don’t want that.” They’re in love with something that isn’t. Or they’re in love with something that morphs, that needs its own space. They can’t contain it.

When you played the older songs at your 30th-anniversary shows last December at the Fillmore, did you recognize your younger, angrier self in those lyrics? You’re a different man than the one who wrote “Of Wolf and Man.”

Or “Dyers Eve,” which is pure spite. [Pauses] I look back at pictures and see someone who is happy – smiling, goofing, using foul language at the wrong time, kind of obnoxious, but happy. But behind closed doors, there was a lonely, ugly, hateful person. Thank God for that music.

There’s a romantic part of those days that I miss. I look at those photos and want to be that again. Then I look at my relationship with my band, my friends, especially my family, and I think, “I wouldn’t have this if I was that person.”

Are there songs on the Black Album that you find difficult to sing now?

Lyrically? No. It just solidifies what I was going through. I can see it clearer. “The Struggle Within” – I’m no psychiatrist, but it’s right there. “Don’t Tread on Me,” “Sad but True,” “My Friend of Misery” – it speaks a lot of what’s to come. When [the artist] Pushead did the original [sleeve] art for “Sad but True,” with the skull looking at itself, I had no idea the duality was so blatant in that song. He picked up on that: good and evil; the secret me and the public me. I’m glad I’m a little more transparent than I think I am. People have helped me more because of that.

How do you write angry metal lyrics now if you’ve left the rage behind?

Ask my wife why I get pissed off and want to smash the car into pieces. It’s still there. I wish it wasn’t. But why run from it? Just understand it. Use it. When I’m feeling like that, pick up a pen and paper. Pick up the guitar. Start doing it. Because it’s not gone. My family wishes it was. But it’s not.

Do you have a mental or emotional regimen to manage that?

Obviously the 12-step meetings. Meditation. Prayer. They all help me at least know that what I’m feeling is coming from somewhere for a reason. It’s understanding my cycle: feeling insecure, using rage to prove who I am and get what I want, then depression. And then it goes back to insecurity. It’s a cycle, not unlike drinking – all or nothing. History tells me it won’t last forever. But when I’m in it, I’m in it.

How far have you gotten into writing for a new album?

I only have 846 riffs.

Is that an exact figure?

In iTunes, you can see how many things you’ve got. And that does not include the soundchecks, the stuff we goof around with here. You plug in an amp. Suddenly it makes you feel good – you come up with a riff. “Dude, did you get that?” You can’t get away from being recorded here.

But Lars, the hoarder of Metallica, is obsessed with revisiting every stone, turning it over: “That could be great!” Yeah, it could all be great. But I’ve got a new one right now. That’s the Catch-22. You’ve got a riff from five years ago on tour that’s amazing. Do I still feel it? Don’t worry. Something better will show up.

Are there too many distractions – tours, the festival, the movie – that take you away from the primary business of…

Writing songs? Absolutely. This week is interviews, photo shoots, shooting videos for things. When are we going to start writing? “We’ve got to rehearse the Black Album.” I would love to sit and write a record without having to think of other stuff.

What is your take on 3D movies?

When I hear that phrase, I get worried.

You think Pixar. You think hokey-ness. Our intention is to make something that is completely insane and blows minds. I also want a story line. I want this to be a cult-type film. It’s kind of silly, talking so in-depth about it when I don’t know what it even is yet.

Whose idea was it?

[Co-manager] Peter Mensch. It came from capturing the best stuff from all of the past tours. A lot of kids didn’t get to see the destruction scene [on the…And Justice for All tour], or the Snakepit [on the Metallica tour]. Put it all into a best-of. And hey, why don’t we film it in 3D?

Do you have a budget?

Yeah. It’s ungodly. It’s our life savings, basically. We don’t know what the hell we’re doing. But we know we want to try.

I’m surprised that after your 2004 warts-and-all documentary, “Some Kind of Monster,” you would make another movie.

Maybe someone else will go into rehab for this one. [Laughs] Rehab – in 3D!

Lars Ulrich

Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs at The Fillmore in San Francisco.

Whose idea was it to play the Black Album in reverse?

If you like the idea, it was mine. If you don’t, it was James’ [grins]. For better or worse, I’m the set-list guy. This is all subject to change if it doesn’t work. But the idea of starting off with the lesser-known songs buried down there and ending up with “Sad but True” and “Enter Sandman” seems like a winner. You finish with the money shot, which is the first song.

That album’s shift away from speed metal to shorter, simpler songs set the tone for the rest of Metallica’s career – a willingness to experiment that still confounds even people who like you.

I’m a big believer that the records all thread together. That straighter, four-on-the-floor thing was present on earlier records, in “Harvester of Sorrow” and “Ride the Lightning.” But we went all-out because there was nowhere else to go. Where do you go after “Dyer’s Eve”? You can’t get faster. You can’t get more pissed off than Hetfield barking at his parents. That was the end of the Eighties for us.

We played a show in Toronto with Aerosmith in the summer of 1990, right at the time we started writing the Black Album. I remember sitting under the grandstand with [co-manager] Cliff Burnstein. He said, “The Misfits are a huge part of your influence – ‘Last Caress’ is a minute and a half long. [The Rolling Stones’] ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ is part of who you are. You just haven’t released it yet.”

I went back to San Francisco, and there was a riff on Kirk’s riff tape [hums the “Enter Sandman” lick]. The whole song is just that riff. “Enter Sandman” was the blueprint. The rest of the record appeared over two months.

How much will playing that album live affect your next album?

I’ve been sitting with these songs for a month now, listening to them while I’m driving, immersing myself before we play them: “Why did we go one key up there? Why did we repeat that thing four times instead of two?” I was thinking about it again today. There was a moment in “Sad but True” with that half-chorus in the middle. Then it went back to the guitar solo, and there was that little break before it goes into the third verse.

I couldn’t help thinking, “Why was it put together like that? Maybe we can slightly borrow that?” If you can’t rip yourself off, what’s the point? It will be interesting to see, once we take this album out to people in different countries, what we’ll come back with for the writing sessions in the fall.

You do have a lot of projects that get in the way of making new music.

I don’t want to be that band that just does record, tour; record, tour. I will say to my dying day, “Who wouldn’t want to make a record with Lou Reed?” They are adventures, uncharted territory, places where you do more than just use muscle memory. I want to get away from that model, that the sole reason for a band to exist is to just make another record.

You don’t have on or off years now. They’re all working years.
I have an adverse reaction to the word “work.” Coming down to HQ, playing music and sweating – this is fun. We love this too much. We survived all of the pitfalls and traps we were in, all that nutty stuff you see in Some Kind of Monster. This whole thing seems to have found a rhythm. It’s not like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They make their record, they tour, then go away for three or four years. That’s not our destiny.

What parts of the Orion festival can you take credit for?

I came up with the name [laughs]. For me, having the Arctic Monkeys on there is big. I think they’re a heavy-metal band disguised as an indie band. If you listen to a song like “Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But…,” there’s almost a Rush element in there. Avenged Sevenfold are near and dear to me. They were on the fence about it. They were taking the summer off. I called one of the guys and said, “It would really mean a lot to us.” The Black Angels are just cool. A friend of mine said, “Check them out,” and I was like, “Wow, it’s the Doors meets something else in 2011.”

Were there any bands you invited who said, “No way, we’ll get killed by your fans.”

The issue isn’t with the bands. It’s more if this type of festival can exist from the fans’ point of view. Because we’re doing it, it gets branded as a particular thing. We have to work harder. If Radiohead does it, it’s cool. If we do it, it’s not.

I’m stunned that people are stunned by us doing these things. It’s our DNA.

The 3D movie is a weird leap, even for you. It has elements of documentary, fiction and live performance, on this crazy stage.
This has been circling for two years. It’s time to life-size it, get it out of our minds and on the screen. And if it’s done right, it can be sensational. You’re not watching Metallica onstage. You’re onstage with Metallica. In IMAX, James Hetfield is 38 feet tall, snotting on you, spitting on you. It’s 2,000 decibels. If there is an earthquake outside, you wouldn’t notice.

But you can’t do that for 100 minutes. It loses its appeal. There is another element in there – intimate, small, a story that takes place over the same trajectory as the concert. The question is, “Where do they weave in and out of each other?” But you have to cut away from the concert to enjoy the concert.

Even at a Metallica show, you gotta take a break for a beer or a leak.

This idea goes back to the Nineties, when IMAX movies started coming out. We were in talks with them. That’s when an IMAX camera was the size of a house, and they only had 12 minutes of film. You had to stop to reload. But seeing Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol in IMAX, which I did the week it came out, and then when we broadcast the Big 4 show [with Anthrax, Slayer and Megadeth] from Sofia, Bulgaria, to movie theaters in 2010 – that’s what sealed the deal.

How do you look at your long-term future? You just celebrated your 30th anniversary.

Another 30 years might be optimistic. I still don’t feel we’ve challenged ourselves enough. We still talk about “the next album.” We can do whatever we want with our music. “We’ve hidden a new Metallica CD in each ZIP code in America. Go find it!” There’s nothing but options.

Just don’t mention the word “work.” The a.m. grind, getting my three kids ready for school – that is the work part of my day. When I come in here, that’s when the fun starts.

Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs at Sonisphere in the United Kingdom.

What are you learning from playing the Black Album?

For the longest time, I thought “My Friend of Misery” was an instrumental. In 1990, when we were getting it together for the album, we always played it as an instrumental. Before we finished, we decided James should write lyrics. When we were talking about playing the Black Album live, I listened to it, to relearn it, and went, “My God, it has words.” When we rehearsed it this time, it was the first time we’d played it with James singing.

But the simplicity of that album, the structure of it, verges on the poetic. A good poem has the right word in the right spot at the right moment. The Black Album has all that. The guitar solos almost wrote themselves.

It wasn’t like you slowed down and simplified to become more successful. But a lot of your fans considered the Black Album a betrayal of your speed-metal origins.

Metal is one of the most conservative forms of music. The conundrum is that it’s also rebellious music. It’s supposed to be extreme. It’s not anything anybody talks about. You just know what the terms are. Is that metal? Yes, it is. No, it’s not. And if it’s questionable, it’s probably Metallica [grins].

But like at our festival – I am very excited to see [blues guitarist] Gary Clark Jr. There hasn’t been a guitar guy in a long time who has been this interesting to me. I loved the fact that when we did Lollapalooza [in 1996], we were playing with the Cocteau Twins, the Ramones and Cheap Trick. I loved that dichotomy. If you’re just going to throw the same ice cream at me, I’m outta here.

Your Orion festival is a huge undertaking. Do you expect to make money?

Let me let you in on a little secret. Whenever we go on these kinds of endeavors, it’s never to make money [laughs]. We want it to be fun and exciting. Maybe we break even. Or lose money. Whatever. It’s not a financial thing. We’re trying to come up with something cool.

So what supports everything you have in this studio – touring?

Yeah. The merchandise. We basically take funds from wherever we can. This is a real luxury. But great things come out of this. We have a place to rehearse, to write songs, to come up with new ideas. We don’t necessarily save money having this place, because of the way we work. We take our time, doing what we need to do, and do it until it’s done.

Do you have years where you have to go on the road to pay the bills?

That’s every year. The cycles of taking two years off don’t exist anymore. We were able to do that because we had record royalties coming in consistently. Now you put out an album, and you have a windfall maybe once or twice but not the way it used to be – a check every three months. We have to go out and play shows, and we’re totally fine with that. We’re a great live band that enjoys bringing the music to the people. I never thought it was enough, just giving them a CD.

That also means you’ve fallen way behind in making new music, because you’re so busy with touring, the festival and the 3D movie.
We’ve known for at least two years that we have to start writing songs. It feels like I’m standing on the side of a hill: There’s this big boulder at the top that I know is going to start rolling one of these days. And when it does, we won’t be able to stop it. But it hasn’t started rolling yet.

It’s on everybody’s mind. When we finished at the Fillmore last year, I thought, “A year from now I’m going to be 50. At this rate, does that mean I have two albums left in me? Three?” But if we run at a different rate, who knows? Five? The one thing I’ve learned is you can’t be too prophetic in this band, because something happens, and things completely change.

You also have a funny sense of timing. You’re performing the Black Album on its 21st anniversary, not the 20th.

It was only yesterday that I realized that my 29th anniversary with the band was last week. I totally forgot about it. I joined Metallica on April 12th or something, 1983.

Happy anniversary.

Thanks. I don’t know if anyone else in the band noticed. Nobody said jackshit.

Robert Trujillo

Robert Trujillo of Metallica performing in 2009

After nine years in Metallica, do you still sometimes feel like the new guy?

Yeah. I was so immersed in and challenged by every song we played at those anniversary shows at the Fillmore. The funny thing is, in “Phantom Lord,” the next-to-last song of the last night, I missed the key change. Lars was looking over at me with the semi-stink-eye; there’s a certain look Lars will throw you that you don’t want to see. I remember going, “Man, after all this, I blow it right at the end.”

I went up to the dressing room and said to the guys, “Man, I’m so sorry. I got lost.” And they said, “Oh, you too? So did we!” But at that moment, I felt like the new guy that blew it.

How would you characterize your role in Metallica?

I’m the guy who jumps ahead a bit and dissects the music – the length of certain sections, the notes, a lot of the foundation stuff. It’s better for me to be 10 steps ahead than two steps behind. They wrote the songs. They recorded them. It’s a part of them. But I want them to be able to lean on me.

At the beginning, it was horrible to be the guy who didn’t know the song inside and out. I started working on “The Call of Ktulu” [on Ride the Lightning] a year before we ever played it live. I hoped, as a fan of Metallica, that someday we would play it. I’m still trying to get them to play “The Frayed Ends of Sanity” [on 1988’s …And Justice for All]. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Is it part of your job to keep the spirit and standards of [the late bassist] Cliff Burton alive in the room?

I really believe that, especially now that we’re incorporating songs like “Orion” [on Master of Puppets] and “The Call of Ktulu.” That was a major step forward, because those songs hadn’t been performed live. It was a challenge to nail it and to spiritually connect with that material. Every night we play those songs, I feel like, yeah, Cliff is right there with us.

Did you ever meet him or see him live with Metallica?

No, and it’s the weirdest thing. Cliff’s best friend is also my best friend, [drummer] Mike Bordin from Faith No More. We played in Ozzy’s band together. When I went through the audition process with Metallica, I was staying at Mike’s house. I’d be in the guest room at 2 a.m., learning “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and there would be this big picture of Cliff on the wall, looking at me as I’m learning his song.

Were there any bands on your wish list for Orion Music + More that you couldn’t get?

I thought it would be cool to have [Trujillo’s former band] Suicidal Tendencies. I had [flamenco duo] Rodrigo y Gabriela on my list, but they couldn’t make it. If it were up to me, Bootsy Collins and Parliament-Funkadelic would be there.

We have diverse interests. Lars does not like hot-rod art. He’s more abstract, modern. Kirk leans more Buddhist. The festival is an extension of that. But at the end of the day, people will get “Master of Puppets” and “Fight Fire With Fire.” That’s what we enjoy, too.

You’ve been in Metallica since 2003 and appear on exactly one studio album. Is that frustrating for you, not to be moving forward faster?

Sometimes. But we’ve done so much in that time. Take the Fillmore shows – so much work went into that. And making a record is huge: preparing the songs, locking them in. Everything is about nurturing, like vocals. There are a lot of possibilities, and James likes to try them all. Guitar solos take time in this band. Lars always has to be a part of that.

How much have you written, riff-wise, for the next record?
I have about 20 ideas I feel really good about, whereas on Death Magnetic I had one or two. But one of them ended up being “Suicide and Redemption.” Hetfield – he’s a writing machine. Kirk has over 300 ideas. There’s so much stuff from the tuning-room jams, from all of those years of touring. I like to think I have 20 ideas I believe in.

What’s the best one so far?

[Grins] There’s one that reminds me of something off Black Sabbath’s Vol. 4.

Metallica: Behind the Scenes of the Big Issue Cover Shoot

ORION, Metallica’s first festival: Atlantic City, NJ, June 23 & 24 2012

Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long” Video

By Rolling Stone
December 8, 2008

Metallica have unleashed their new video for the Death Magnetic epic “All Nightmare Long.” While the band doesn’t actually show up in the video, the nine-minute clip could be the best Metallica video since “One,” and possibly even the best video of the year. Combining the a Grindhouse-esque worn film look with equal parts Russian educational documentary, Watership Down style animation and Re-Animator, the video tells the story of a strange spore that falls to Earth that first heals wounds and revives dead pets but eventually leads to a zombie takeover in the former USSR. It’s like Planet Terror wrapped into ten minutes without the terrible ending and Quentin Tarantino cameo. Check out the video: