James Hetfield’s Confession About Metallica’s Early Music

In 1981, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich established Metallica by embracing a fast-tempo aggressive style. The band achieved such a massive success that it became among the most impactful metal acts influencing the entire music world. Throughout its career, the band’s achievements escalated and earned them countless awards and top places on the charts.

The band recorded several demos and played in local clubs in Los Angeles to draw attention at the beginning of its career. Later, the debut album entitled ‘Kill ‘Em All’ came out in 1983, kick-starting Metallica’s massive reputation. The group began gaining attention and commercial success with the following releases. However, they did not always create original material since Metallica initially covered songs before achieving fame, and James Hetfield once confessed their little trick regarding these covers.

Metallica Covered Songs At The Beginning Of Its Career

Many names in the music scene started their careers by covering the songs of other influential musicians. They did this to get more attention quickly and improve themselves to create their original songs. For instance, Nirvana’s first single, released in 1988, was a cover entitled ‘Love Buzz’ from Schoking Blue.

As Metallica revealed in a past interview, they were creating covers of songs during the band’s early career in Los Angeles. However, their situation was somewhat different from Nirvana. As James Hetfield once confessed, they covered the songs from unrecognized bands from Europe.

However, they did not mention that those songs did not originally belong to them, and people did not know those were covers. James Hetfield revealed that when they began the recording process, they told the record label that they could not record any of those songs. As Hetfield stated, all of the short tracks of the band were covers.

During the interview, James Hetfield said:

“In the early days, as Lars said, no one knew they were covers. We loved them until it came time to record our demo. When we hooked up with our record guy, ‘OK, we’re goin’ in, and we’re going to make a demo.’ ‘Well, we can’t play this song, and this song, and this song.’ ‘What do you mean?’ Back then, we had these long, drawn-out epics. ‘What happened to all the short songs?!’ ‘Well, they were covers.'”

Though the record label must have been disappointed after hearing those materials didn’t belong to Metallica, the band released ‘Kill ‘Em All’ and proved that they didn’t need any re-recorded versions of pre-released songs. The record’s initial shipment was 15,000 copies in the US, but the album sold 60,000 copies worldwide, later gaining a reputation as one of rock music’s most outstanding debut records.