James Hetfield Reveals Ongoing Metallica ‘Nightmares’

5 June 2024 | 11:44 am | Mary Varvaris

"I start to feel insecure that, whoa, we’re old, we can’t do this and blah blah blah..."


Metallica (Credit: Tim Saccenti)

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Metallica lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield has revealed his ongoing “nightmares” surrounding his longstanding career, stating that the road remains a scary place.

Appearing on the Metallica Report podcast, the performer admitted that he still doubts himself despite his experience and the band’s phenomenal career.

Before heading out on tour, Hetfield said that he often remembers “the myriad of pretty awesome songs we have” and reminds himself to trust that when he enters a room with bandmates Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich and Rob Trujillo, he can get back to muscle memory.

Over the last month, however, he’s been experiencing the “normal thing” where he starts to doubt himself.

“I start to feel insecure that, whoa, we’re old, we can’t do this and blah blah blah – all that bullshit that everyone tells themselves before they go into something that they care about and is important,” he said. “So having the nightmares of, you know, I’m the only one who cares about what we’re doing here. You know, where is everybody?”

In his anxiety-driven dreams, Hetfield recalls showing up for a gig to find the stage crew goofing off, and he can’t find his stuff or the setlist.

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“And then typical things like, the guitar neck is made of rubber, and there’s only two strings on it and where’s my roadie? And the guitar cord won’t let me get to the microphone. Silly stuff like that,” he shared.

He is now in the place, however, where he allows the anxious periods to happen and tries not to freak out about it.

Hetfield explained, “All you do is you practice, and then you build – that comes back pretty quickly. It’s part of the cycle. It just is.

"You have anxiety build up, but don’t let it get the best of you because you have that balance of anxiety and faith. And as soon as you get up there, it’s all gonna be good.”

You can listen to Hetfield’s episode of The Metallica Report below.

Metallica are touring in support of their latest album, last year’s 72 Seasons. They return to the road on Friday, 7 June, in Helsinki, Finland. The tour continues with the band’s two-night sets per city—each show has a unique set—until 29 September in Mexico City.

In a glowing review of 72 Seasons, The Music’s Kristen S. Hé wrote: “Four decades after they kicked the doors down in their early twenties with Kill ’Em All, Metallica have come full circle in a way that no one could have predicted.

“Lyrically, 72 Seasons is about how the struggles of one’s first 18 years can reverberate into adulthood. But musically, it’s about reconnecting with their earliest influences and finding new meaning in them once again—with no interest in simply recapturing past glories.”