The Reason Metallica Cut Their Hair During Load/ReLoad Era
Metallica is known to be one of the most groundbreaking bands in the history of not only metal but music in general. When they first started playing in the ’80s, what they did was not only orginal but actually controversial. Their concerts and fanbase were all underground and not even remotely near mainstream.
However, everything changed when the band released their self-titled album, also known as the ‘Black Album‘ in 1991. It was a great success and for the first time ever, a metal record debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard charts. This was a huge success and a big step for the legitimization of rock and metal music.
However, this was not very well-perceived by their fans because supporting a band that is in the margins always feels more special, and the band has more freedom to try out unconventional things. Furthermore, they sensed that things would change after Metallica was established as mainstream and in 1996, it was in a way proven that they were right.
Following a successful world tour and a brief hiatus in the summer of 1995, the band spent approximately a year writing and recording new songs. ‘Load‘ was released in 1996 and it also debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard 200 and ARIA charts and became the band’s second Number 1 album.
Nonetheless, the band members had also prepared another surprise for their fans; they had cut their hair and adopted a more neat clothing style. Following that, Metallica was invited to headline in the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza. While everything seemed to be going well for the band, the fans were saddened to see that the band’s music and style was moving towards the mainstream.
While working on the album, the band had recorded enough songs to release a double album. However, it was decided that they should release half of them, and then spend some time improving the other ones so as to release a follow-up album. This resulted in the album named Reload which also debuted at Number 1 on the charts.
While fans stressed that the band’s image changed after achieving mainstream popularity, Lars Ulrich said that this was not the case at all. He claimed that they all got their haircuts in different times and that Jason Newsted had actually shaved his head during the ‘Black Album’ tour.
Here’s what Lars Ulrich said during an interview with WJRR:
“It’s funny how these things end up being perceived – there was this perception that the 4 members of Metallica went to a barber shop together and ordered like a 4-for-1 discount, or some crazy thing like that. That wasn’t the case at all. Newsted actually – he shaved his head on the ‘Black Album’ tour. That was the end of ’93, and ‘Load’ came out in ’96. So there was like an almost three-year span where – shock, horror – all four members of Metallica got haircuts at various times between ’93 and ’96. It was kind of a downtime.
This was back in the day when there was no social media and when you’re off the radar, you’re off the radar. And then ‘Load’ came out, and all of the sudden there was like, ‘Woah! They all got haircuts!’ Obviously, we didn’t get haircuts at the same time, we just all decided individually at different times to somewhat trim our hair. And then people came to the conclusion that that was some sort of contrived purposeful undertaking, which of course it wasn’t.”
Even though Lars Ulrich explained that getting a haircut was never a common decision but instead something that they all spontaneously did in the span of trhee years, many fans still claim that they did it so as to improve their image for the mainstream media.