Ron McGovney SHOCKWAVES Interview Continued

So we progress to the beginning of 1982... Metallica is a four man band, with you playing bass, you're practicing in your garage... what would a typical day be like? "We would all get together after work. James wasn't working at the time and Lars was working a graveyard shift at a 24 hour gas station, and Dave was... self employed. At the time it was just Dave playing guitar and James was just singing. It got to the point where James had said that he didn't think he was too good of a singer and he only wanted to play rhythm guitar. So we found this singer named Sammy Dijon who was in a local band called Ruthless - he rehearsed with us for about three weeks but we never played a show with him. They told Sammy it wasn't working out and James went back to singing again."

So we're at around March of 1982, how did Metallica get the opening slot for the infamous Saxon gig at the Whisky? "On the 4-track TEAC we recorded a demo of three songs: Hit the Lights , Killing Time (from the Irish band SWEET SAVAGE), and Let It Loose (from the British band SAVAGE). We had heard that Saxon was gonna be playing the Whisky in Hollywood. So I went over to the club with our demo, and as I was walking up, I run into Tommy Lee and Vince Neil from Motley Crue (who I was taking pictures for at the time.) They said 'Hey Ron, what's up?'. I told them that Saxon was doing a gig at the Whisky and I wanted to try to get my band to open up for them. They said, 'Yeah, we were gonna open up for them but we're getting too big to open. Come on in and I'll introduce you to the chick that does the booking'. So I dropped off the tape and she called me back the very next day, I remember her telling me, 'You guys are pretty good... you remind me of this local band called Black'n'Blue. Anyway, she said 'Saxon is scheduled to play two nights; we're gonna have RATT open for them the first night and your band can open the second night'. So we actually have Motley Crue to thank for getting us that gig, which was a major break for us back then. It was Metallica's third show. We actually played two shows that night opening for Saxon."

After that show you recorded a new 4-track demo in April of '82, which later was known as the "Power Metal" demo... "We recorded that demo in my garage on a 4-track. The four songs were Hit The Lights , The Mechanix , Jump In The Fire , and Motorbreath - which were all originals. Those songs were later re-recorded on the demo called No Life Til Leather . James sang differently on it, like on Jump In The Fire he would hold the note on the chorus. He was trying to be like the singer Sean Harris from DIAMOND HEAD, but he later figured that he didn't sound like Sean Harris so he decided to sing gruffer. It's funny how that demo was labeled the Power Metal demo. The story is, I went to make Metallica business cards to send to the club promoters along with our demo. The card was supposed to just have the 'Metallica' logo and a contact number. But I thought it looked too plain and decided it should say something under the logo. I didn't want to put 'hard rock' or 'heavy metal', so I coined the term Power Metal, I thought it had a nice ring to it. No band had used that term before as far as I knew. I remember bringing the business cards to the band and Lars got so pissed off at me. He said, 'What did you do! What the hell is Power Metal ?! I can't believe you did such a stupid thing! We can't use these cards with the words Power Metal on it!'. So, that's how that tape became known as the Power Metal demo."

Shortly after, Metallica recruited a new guitarist and did a gig.... "Yeah, we took on this guy named Brad Parker, a.k.a. Damian C. Phillips, which was his stage name. We did one show at the Concert Factory in Costa Mesa, and while James, Lars, and myself are getting dressed to go on stage, we hear this guitar solo so we look over the railing of the dressing room and we see Brad on stage just blazing away on his guitar. So that was Metallica's first and last gig with Damian C. Phillips. Later I think he went on to join Odin."

Is that when James decided to sing and play guitar full-time? "Yeah. He decided to do what he does best, that is play guitar and sing. And it's not easy to play the type of riffs he plays and sing at the same time - it's really difficult."

So that brings us to the summer of 1982... Can you tell us the story of the infamous "No Life Till Leather" demo? "Lars hooked up with this guy named Kenny Kane who was a real snake in the grass. He had this punk label called High Velocity which was a division of Rocshire Records, an Orange County record company. He said he would put up the money to have us do an EP. So we went in the studio and recorded the songs Hit The Lights , Mechanix , Phantom Lord , Jump In The Fire , Motorbreath , Seek And Destroy and Metal Militia , which were done in an 8-track studio in Tustin called Chateau East. After hearing the tapes Kenny realized we weren't a punk band so he ended up not being interested. So we took the tapes which eventually became the 'No Life Till Leather' demo."

Who was in charge of getting this demo distributed? "Lars and his friend Pat Scott. They would record tapes and send them out, they had connections all over the world."

Whose idea was it to take out a full page ad in BAM magazine? That was a big investment in those days for a young band. "It cost us $600 which was a lot of money back in 1982. It was probably Lars and James' idea. They laid the ad out and showed it to me and said it will cost $600. I said 'OK, Lars...James - where's your money?' and they said 'We don't have any money'. I was the only one that had any money, so I wrote out a check for $600 to BAM, til this day I never got that money back."

So during this time you never heard any complaints or anything from the other band members that they thought you were inferior as a bass player? "I don't think at the time it had anything to do with my musicianship because I was basically playing what they asked me to play. James showed me what to play and I played it. I understood the camraderie between James and Lars as far as writing goes and I didn't want to infiltrate that. I think the reason that they kept some of Dave's (Mustaine) songs was because they thought he was a good guitar player and they did it to keep him happy. Like the song Mechanix , some of the lyrics in that were ridiculous, so they ended up changing the lyrics later when Dave was out of the band (and re-titled it The Four Horsemen )."

So what's the story about Dave Mustaine and his dogs? "I think it was the summer of '82. Dave had come over to my house on a Sunday afternoon and he brought his two pit bull puppies. I think I was in the shower at the time; anyway, Dave let the dogs loose and they were jumping all over my car scratching the shit out of it, I had a rebuilt '72 Pontiac LeMans. And James came out and said 'Hey Dave, get those f**kin' dogs off of Ron's car!'. And Dave said, 'What the f**k did you say? Don't you talk that way about my dogs!'. Then they started fighting and it spilled into the house, and when I came out of the shower I see Dave punch James right across the mouth and he flies across the room, so I jumped on Dave's back and he flipped me over onto the coffee table. And then James gets up and yells to Dave, 'You're out of the f**kin' band! Get the f**k out of here!'. So Dave loaded all his shit up and left all pissed off. The next day he comes back crying, pleading 'Please let me back in the band'."

So how did Metallica come in contact with Cliff Burton, did you guys see him when his band TRAUMA was in town? "I think we just showed up at a TRAUMA show at the Whisky for some reason. We were sitting there watching the band and all the sudden the bass player goes into a solo as the guitar players were playing rhythm and he's just thrashing his head all over the place. And James and Lars were just bowing to him. We didn't talk to Cliff that night but they might have approached him the next night at the Troubadour. I don't know how they actually hooked up."

How did your first San Francisco gig come about? "I think that was a Metal Massacre Night with BITCH, CIRUTH UNGOL, and I believe LAAZ ROCKET. And Ciruth Ungol had canceled so Brian Slagel called us last minute to fill in. It was at the old Stone. I rented a trailer and we loaded our drum riser and all our gear and pulled it with my Dad's '69 Ford Ranger, we all drove up in that one truck. I had never been to San Francisco before, I remember driving around Chinatown with this trailer and I was getting so pissed off trying to find this club. All the other band members are back there in the camper shell drinking and partying and I'm just pissed as shit."

But the show went over really well... "Yeah. We had no idea that our No Life Till Leather demo had gotten up there, they knew all the lyrics to our songs and everything. People asking us for our autographs, it was a trip, we couldn't believe it. When we played in L.A. with bands like RATT, people would just stand there with their arms crossed."

How did the second San Francisco show in October '82 go over ? "That was at the Old Waldorf on a Monday night. The people went nuts at that gig. In fact I think Cliff Burton came to that show."

So, you knew nothing of any negotiations between the other band members and Cliff? "Things started happening back at the house... my things would be missing. The worst thing was when we played with my friend Jim's band KAOS, and ROXX REGIME (who later became STRYPER). Apparently one of Dave's (Mustaine) buddies stole my back-up Ibanez bass guitar...My leather jacket was missing...I was really getting sick of the situation. And I didn't know why this was happening because I did what I could and what they asked me to do. Lars and I butted heads a lot, I hate when people show up late and use you all the time and that's just what Lars did. I would have to drive all the way down to Newport Beach to pick him up, so I told him 'If you can't make it, it's not my problem'. Everytime we did a gig up in San Francisco I had to borrow my Dad's truck, pay for the gas, I had to rent the trailer out of my pocket, I paid for the hotel rooms on my Visa card... and San Francisco is expensive even for a cheap room. I paid for all of this and they couldn't understand why I was mad, they said 'Well, you're getting the check after the gig', and we were only getting paid a $100 per gig at the most, which didn't even cover the hotel room. Plus we drank a couple hundred dollars worth of alcohol. I always said to them, 'If I'm a part of this band, why is it up to me to pay for everything while you guys get the free ride?'. I had suggested we get a manager or somebody that could back us because I was really getting tired of this. And they just laughed about it and said 'have a sense of humor'. They just didn't understand, so they interpreted it as me having a bad attitude."

So you were just fed up with their antics and you probably didn't think that they would become successful... "Right. I knew the way they were... Dave, at the time, was an asshole, and Lars only cared about himself. But what really hurt me was James, because he was my friend and he was siding with them and I suddenly became the outcast in the band."

At the end of November '82, when you went up to S.F. for the third time, did you have any idea that they were planning on replacing you with Cliff? "After I heard them talk about Cliff, I had some idea. I remember after that show it was raining like a motherf**ker and I saw Cliff, all in denim, just standing there in the rain. And I said to him, 'Hey dude, do you want a ride home', I kind of felt sorry for the guy. I kind of saw the writing on the wall...We played at the Mabuhay Gardens the next day, it was a little hole in the wall. That was the last gig I did with Metallica."

Driving back home to L.A., did you think to yourself that you were about to be replaced? "First off, let me clear something...I'm talking a long time ago, this was so long ago it doesn't even matter today. I'm just telling you what I was feeling then. I want to make it clear that it doesn't bother me now, this was 14 years ago, it's just memories. I get along with all the guys now. So, this is what happened...On the way home we stopped at the liquor store, I was driving, and they got a whole gallon of whisky. James , Lars, and Dave were completely smashed out of their minds. They would constantly bang on the window for me to pull over so they could take a piss, and all the sudden I look over and see Lars lying in the middle of Interstate 5 on the double yellow line. It was just unbelievable! And I just said 'f**k this shit!'. Then one of my friends told me that they witnessed Dave pour a beer right into the pickups of my Washburn bass as he said 'I f**kin' hate Ron'. The next day my bass didn't work. My girlfriend at the time also told me that she overheard that they wanted to bring Cliff in the band."

Do you think their intention was to harass you until you would quit the band? "I don't know. If you listen to their version, they claim they kicked me out. But I never, ever heard them tell me 'You're out of the band'. What happened was, after Dave f**ked my bass up, I confronted the band when they came over for practice and said 'Get the f**k out of my house!' I turned to James and said, 'I'm sorry, James, but you have to go too'. And they were gone within the next couple of days. They packed all their gear and moved to San Francisco."

So this all happened around the first week of December '82. "Yeah. It was right after we had returned from that trip to S.F. I was so disgusted with the whole thing that I sold all my equipment: my amps, my cases, I even sold my Les Paul which would now be worth about $1,200. I was just so pissed with the whole thing. Then in 1986, my friend Katon DePenna, who was a singer, told me that I should get back into it. I had some cash in the bank at the time so I went and bought a Fender P bass and a Marshall half stack bass amp. So Katon and I started jamming and we formed a band called Phantasm. It was more like progressive punk, it's hard to describe; the lyrics were punk but the music had tons of different changes in it. Our first two shows with Phantasm were on the same two nights as Jason's first shows with Metallica, when they played the Country Club & Jezebel's. I think November 7th and 8th. We played Fenders Ballroom in Long Beach with about ten other punk bands. We also played Fenders opening for the Plasmatics in front of 1,500 people - it was totally cool, that was actually the biggest crowd I ever played in front of. The reason Phantasm broke up is because I just kept getting bombarded with the Metallica thing and the band got sick of it. A lot of kids came to our gigs just because I had been in Metallica. When we went to play Phoenix all the guys from Flotsam and Jetsam were jumping off the stage and after the show everyone bombarded me for autographs. So it just faded away after that and I haven't been in a band since."

What was the most memorable moment when you were in Metallica? "Probably the first time we ever played the song Whiplash , I think that was at Billy Barty's (Roller Rink in Fullerton). That was the most ultimate headbanging song. Everytime we played that song it totally kicked ass."

And the lowest moment? "Probably at the end, when I found out I was double crossed. I would have been better off as a paid road manager rather than the bass player, I probably would have been more respected. But like I said, that's all history..."

"The truth of the matter was that things just didn't click. I was a different person back then. I was a brash person that was always drunk and having fun and James and Lars were withdrawn little boys. James hardly ever talked to people, we did that Saxon gig a while back and he was singing but it was I who talked in between songs. The whole thing was that I had too much to drink. But I f**k up one time and it costs me the band and they f**k up 100 times...there's been times when I had to carry both James and Lars because they were so drunk." - Dave Mustaine talking about his departure from Metallica (taken from an interview conducted by Bob Nalbandian back in January of 1984, in what became Megadeth's first ever feature interview)

"I'm just wondering what Metallica are gonna do when they run out of my riffs." Dave Mustaine from January 1984 interview

"I already smashed James in the mouth one time, and Lars is scared of his own shadow." Dave Mustaine, January 1984

"When I joined that band they only had one song - "Hit the Lights" - James did not write that song, a guy by the name of Hugh Tanner wrote it. Then we did "Jump Into The Fire", "The Mechanix", and the song "Motorbreath" - which is another Hugh Tanner wrote, and I wrote the intro to that, which Lars didn't know how to drum. I wrote the most songs on that whole f**kin' album! I wrote four of them, James wrote three, and Hugh Tanner wrote two!" Dave Mustaine, January 1984

"Kirk is a 'Yes' man...."Yes, Lars, I'll do Dave's leads"; "Yes, James, I'll play this"...James played all the rhythm on that album and Cliff wrote all Kirk's leads - so it shows you they're having a lot of trouble with this "New Guitar God!" Dave Mustaine, January 1984

"I thought I'd have a helluva lot harder time coming up with something better, but this is three times faster, more advanced and a helluva lot heavier!" Dave Mustaine, January 1984 (talking about Megadeth)

"I answered an ad in the Recycler that read 'Heavy Metal Guitarist Wanted for music much heavier than the L.A. scene'." Lloyd Grant from an interview on January 15, 1997 (describing his first encounter with Metallica)

"Hit The Lights" was composed by James and one of his friends. I remember the day I went over to Lars' house , he said, "Check out this song" and he played me "Hit The Lights". We were both into that heavy kind of shit. He wanted me to play some guitar leads on it but I couldn't make it over to Ron McGovney's house to do the recording so James and Lars brought the 4-track over to my apartment and I did the solo on a little Montgomery Ward amp." Lloyd Grant, January '97 (regarding the first ever Metallica recording session)

"I had several disappointments with previous bands I was in, I guess that's my reason for not pursuing Metallica. There were a lot of flaky musicians; however, this was not the case with Lars, he was 100% intense with the music." Lloyd Grant, January '97 (explaining his departure with Metallica)

"Lars was very easy to get along with, although he had very strong ideas and opinions. I was not around James a lot; the times I was around him he was very quiet." Lloyd Grant, January '97

Pounding Pat O'Connor is the former co-host and producer of "Mandatory Metallica", which was the highest rated show on the Pure Rock radio station KNAC-Los Angeles. This interview was conducted in Fall of 1996 and covered many subjects that were passed over during Ron McGovney's KNAC interview in July 1993. For further information regarding Ron McGovney or to reach Pounding Pat directly, write to: Pounding Pat, 9852 W. Katella #462, Anaheim, CA 92804.