METALLICA - "He's Got His Juju Back"
Special Report by Martin Popoff

We spoke to Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich in separate interviews for an in-depth METALLICA cover story planned for BW&BK issue #113. Here bassist Trujillo sets the stage, comparing the atmosphere surrounding Death Magnetic (out Friday) with the vibe of the band in and around the making of St. Anger.

"Well, me personally, that was when I first sort of entered the picture. I think that St. Anger had to exist. It was very important to the band, because we were in a time of transition. It was a band, for so many years, that was so polished, and had gone through so many changes, just in terms of the sound and identity or whatever, and this was sort of a statement, in a way a release for them, not just emotionally, but also sonically. It definitely has a character of its own, and Lars has said that if St. Anger wouldn't have existed, then we wouldn't have Death Magnetic. And I would have to agree with him. I think the important thing here is that we have Hetfield back, and it seemed like during the St. Anger time he was a bit more guarded, and everything was set to a schedule and a structure, and he had so many things going on in his life, and now he's a lot more free and kind of easygoing and happy in general. He really seems like a different person in a lot of ways. But with St. Anger, it wasn't just the musical side, but things sort of within, particularly with James.

Are you saying that being kind of distanced from rehab, he's able to function with a little less structure, and he's a little less fragile?

"Exactly. That is my personal opinion. Now he'll be like, 'Hey, let's go check out SOCIAL DISTORTION or see THE POLICE.' He's more into hanging out now. It's like he's got his juju back, and back then, I just remember him being a bit more fragile, like you say. It seemed like his focus on the album... yes, there were some focus, but you've also got to understand, he was really reconnecting with his personal life, in terms of his family, and re-existing, not just in the band, but with his daily lifestyle. And it seems like now, here we have Death Magnetic, it's not like, 'OK, it's four o'clock; I've got to leave this minute.' Puts down the guitar and he's done. Or working on a cool guitar part, 'Oh, shoot, it's 11; I've got to go.' Now it's like, we're working on something cool, and there's not really a time constraint on his creativity anymore. And just in terms of even the lyrics - he's really diving into the melodies and the lyrics on Death Magnetic, and really making it a part of him, versus, 'Well, here, let's pick up the slack' - other people. It's something that I think they needed to do and needed to try to do. But I think it's deeper than that. I think James... I mean, he's absolutely committed and involved with Death Magnetic, and beyond. This has become a labour of love for him."