James Hetfield says he doesn’t know what’s next for Metallica in first public appearance since rehab

"We kind of thrive off of the fear of the unknown"

James Hetfield doesn't know what's next for Metallica
Metallica’s James Hetfield, photo by Melinda Oswandel

During his first public appearance and interview since entering rehab in the fall, Metallica frontman James Hetfield admitted he doesn’t know what’s next for the thrash metal legends. The iconic metal act has a South American tour and US festival dates slated for 2020, but the future beyond that remains uncertain according to Hetfield.

Hetfield was interviewed this past Thursday at the Petersen Automotive Museum in L.A. for the unveiling of his “Reclaimed Rust: The Hetfield Collection” exhibit, featuring 10 of his custom vintage cars. When pressed about the release of a new Metallica album, Hetfield left the scenario open-ended.

“That’s a great question. We don’t know,” Hetfield said. “Right now, I’m sitting in Petersen Museum, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. That’s the beauty of this. We’ll sit down and figure out what works best for us. Whatever is coming up, we don’t know. And we kind of thrive off of the fear of the unknown — a bit — and being scared just enough to feel alive.”

Previously bassist Rob Trujillo said that the next Metallica album would come “a lot sooner than the previous two did.” But that was before Hetfield entered rehab in the fall, postponing Metallica’s activity.

During the same Q&A session at the museum, Hetfield also recalled Metallica’s early years. “In the ’80s, in L.A., guitar players, everyone was trying to be Eddie Van Halen, and there was millions of guitar players. Every band was looking for a singer … so I sold my guitar, sold my amp and bought a P.A. and a mic, and I wanted to be a singer.”

He added, “And then when I met Lars [Ulrich] again, I told him, ‘Oh, I’m not playing guitar anymore. I’m just singing.’ He was, like, ‘Well, we’ll look for a guitar player.’ And then no one could play the guitar like we needed, so I [went back to playing] the guitar. ‘We’ll just look for a singer now.’ And then no one could sing like [we wanted them to], so I [said], ‘Okay, I’ll sing until we find a singer.'”

Hetfield seemed jovial and humorous during the 45-minute interview, which bodes well for the band. With Metallica hitting the road in South America in April and playing the major US festivals Welcome to Rockville, Epicenter, and Sonic Temple in May, the band is primed to ease back into its routine in 2020. Watch the full interview below.