The Reason Metallica Stays Away From Politics, James Hetfield Explained Why
There is no doubt that rock and metal culture has often been marginalized by the mainstream in various instances and eras. While some claim that the primary reason for this is that most of the musicians are outspoken political activists, others say that there are various reasons such as their lifestyle.
Metallica is one of the most well-known metal bands and they stand for revolution, awakening, and chaos. However, you may have noticed that they almost never take sides during political controversies. During the pandemic, Hetfield spoke only once about the vaccine and said he has doubts as he grew up with Christian Science, but even that comment wasn’t made at the expense of the band.
In numerous interviews, Hetfield has shared that their logic when it comes to speaking about politics and taking sides is to just not do it because it’s not ethical. Papa Het thinks it’s unfair for famous musicians or celebrities to ‘use their popularity to promote certain political causes’ because the fact that they’re famous doesn’t mean they’re smart.
In addition to that, the band consists of many members from various backgrounds and it’s almost impossible to find four people who agree on everything when it comes to politics. Similarly, within Metallica ‘there are different beliefs‘ and this proves that their support for a specific political cause ‘wouldn’t be universal.’
This is what Hetfield said in relation to the relationship between politics and music:
“I don’t like mixing music and politics together. Someone certain beliefs. We’re here to play music. When we go play certain countries, there are always these political questions, you know, ‘Oh, are you here to save the kids’ and all this, you know. We’re here to play music, and it’s just one of our feelings that we’re trying to get out and, and I think, other celebrities or figures that use their popularity to promote certain political causes, I feel it’s a wrong belief. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re smart.”
In another interview he said:
“In our music, we’re talking about human emotion, hopefully, a universal feel of the feelings of humans. We’re not trying to make a statement. I think the statement we’re making is death, fear, confusion, wonder, human emotions; you can attach them politically if you wish, but it really bothers me when popular musicians or any celebrity is soapboxing, talking about their political beliefs. I think that’s freedom of speech and I love that they can do that all they want.
But what bothers me is that people believe that their opinion is more important because they’re popular. I don’t believe that and I don’t want to back anybody. Because a week later, they might say something that I don’t believe in. Putting our music into a person takes it somewhere, but it cheapens it to me. I think our music goes beyond politics. Politics bore me. They separate us, especially in the States, for me, they separate people, I want it to come the other way.
So you’re always going to lose some fans if you say something that you might believe politically. I want to go past that and get human. I think within the band, there are lots of different opinions, we’re all pretty opposite and that’s fine. That’s probably the main reason we don’t bring up politics because it doesn’t speak for all of us. […] So yeah, within the band, there are different beliefs, so it wouldn’t be universal.”
You can check out both interview excerpts below.