Would you say the new album, Death Magnetic, is a return to form for Metallica?
I don't agree or disagree with it. The more I hear people say they're back and they're back to form. I sort of sit back and scratch my head and wonder, 'Well, we never went anywhere.' And the last time I checked the last several years have been very successful, sold-out concerts and so on. But then I also understand that maybe somehow we are doing something that is a little more of something that people perceive to be classic Metallica. It's difficult for me to get into that categorization. For me, it's all one kind of ride or journey or whatever it is. But there's a obviously a lot of good will, a lot of love for Metallica.
There's a lot of positive energy and it's been a great year for us on all fronts.
Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do when you went into the studio, or were you open to suggestion?
We were always very open because we were working with Rick Rubin for the first time. We forced ourselves to be open to see where it would take us. As we started getting more and more into it we started getting heavier and heavier and a little more progressive. But it was not the place we started, it's where we ended.
How was the atmosphere during the recording?
There was certainly less friction than there was before. There was less stress. Rick Rubin has a pretty zen-like energy around him. He creates a kind of stress-free environment. He's a pretty mellow guy.
There wasn't a lot of hurry up and do this. I think everybody in the band kind of took a step back and so there was less friction between us. If something was going wrong, we'd all blame Rick instead of each other, so it was easy.
How has touring changed?
Well, I've got my 18-month old sleeping out in the bus and having a nap, so that's definitely a big change.
But I think that as you get older you appreciate what's going on and you are more appreciative of the love and support you get from the band as apposed to when you're 22 and just focusing on getting drunk and laid and not paying as much attention to what's around you.
So we're playing two nights in Calgary for something like 30,000 people and it's pretty amazing. We had an incredible night in Vancouver a few days ago and we're playing in Edmonton on Sunday, it's like your eyes are more open than they used to be.
We don't argue, like in the past whenever we used to play, for the first 10 minutes we used to finger point ... and you would just sit there and blame and we don't do that anymore. ... There are just improvisations.
What do you think when you're sitting there in front of 17,000 people?
I sit there and think, 'Don't forget the next part that's coming up.' So it's a very focused kind of energy.
Do you still like being in Metallica?
You know, I think I enjoy what I'm doing even more these days.