Raving about the new guy: ages-old process where rock bands make the fresh blood feel comfortable and entirely loved as they and the person in question stroke each other’s fur in front of the intense examination of press and/or public. Ages-old thrashers-cum-rockers-cum-thrashers again Metallica proved to be no strangers to this tradition as they unveiled their latest bass player Robert Trujillo to Toronto at the Summer Sanitarium tour.
“The quality of musicianship in the band nowadays is so high! Rob’s a killer bass player so it’s awesome to jam with him. It feels so natural to be jamming in a room now, more so than with previous bass players,” says guitarist Kirk Hammett.
Responding with a heart-felt “thank you,” Trujillo blushes. Still, all of this flattery seems somewhat strange given that Trujillo doesn’t play a note on Metallica’s latest effort St. Anger. Producer Bob Rock filled the bass position for the writing and recording, something Hammett says was planned since day one of the album.
“We didn’t use Rob for St. Anger because some of the songs were already written and we’d decided that we wanted Bob to be the bassist for the album. We have a good chemistry. He’s been our bro for 12 years, so we were comfortable enough to go with it. It was a bit of a strange feeling though: do we put Rob’s name on the album? He’s our bassist and it strikes a cool balance so yes! You get Bob on the album and you get Rob on the DVD portion, (so) you get a good glimpse of what he’s about.”
Trujillo doesn’t mind it one bit though. He notes that it was somewhat of a relief to become a part of Metallica post-St. Anger writing. It just meant that he didn’t have the added pressure of writing music for such a highly anticipated album as he cut his teeth on the old songs. It would all have just been “another log on the pile to chop.”
“I had my hands full with trying to learn these 11 songs AND the 40 we’re going to be playing over the course of the summer. To have been a part of the writing process would have been great, but Bob did a great job.”
“It’s important for [Rock] to be on it,” he continues. “These guys have been through a pretty dynamic time over the years and he was the glue helping them get through it. I don’t listen to St. Anger as if I should have been on it. I listen to it as if it were Ride The Lighting or Master Of Puppets. He had some great ideas! There’s nothing wrong with what he’s done… I’m a fan!”
Looking forward to a time when he will have more of a say in the finished product album-wise, the otherwise reserved Trujillo becomes animated.
“I haven’t had much creative freedom since playing in Suicidal Tendencies [Trujillo has been a part of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and Black Label Society among others] and even then there were degrees of control. When I joined Metallica, I didn’t know how to adjust to it at first. I’d be hanging out learning songs while the other guys were in a meeting. They’d be like, “Rob… you’re a part of this too. We want your input.” It was hard to take, but now I’m getting used to it again. Now I just see all of this as exciting because it’s the launch pad for a couple of years from now when we make an album together, right Kirk?”