METALLICA Book Author: Firing DAVE MUSTAINE Allowed The Band To Become ‘Much More Focused’

Steven Ward of PopMatters recently conducted an interview with renowned British rock journalist Mick Wall about Mick‘s recently released book, “Metallica: Enter Night – The Biography”. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

PopMatters: You make subtle remarks in the book that [late METALLICA bassist] Cliff [Burton] would not have liked the band moving on so fast with his replacement. I think you make fun of [METALLICA guitarist] Kirk [Hammett] when he tells you in an interview that Cliff would have wanted it that way. But during one of Cliff‘s last interviews, doesn’t he talk about Lars [Ulrich, drums] dying, and then said the band would move on and keep on going?

Wall: I don’t believe my remarks were subtle, actually. I believe what I say is unequivocal. The band did not move on because “Cliff would have wanted it,” which is what they said at the time. They did so because what else could they do? Guys like Lars and James [Hetfield, guitar/vocals], who started the band before Cliff joined were certainly not going to throw in the towel just as their career was really taking off, even though they loved Cliff.

PopMatters: Like the Cliff question, do you think METALLICA would have been as successful if they kept Dave Mustaine in the band?

Wall: I think the fact that Dave Mustaine was fired allowed METALLICA to become much more focused. It allowed the same thing to happen to Dave for different reasons. The result was two amazing bands, both hugely successful.

PopMatters: There have been other books on METALLICA, including a pretty good one by Metal Hammer writer Joel McIver. Did you write the book because you thought it was time someone did a more comprehensive bio that was not so fan-based? Obviously, you couldn’t have written this book if it was authorized by the band, right?

Wall: I didn’t write the book for fans and I didn’t write it for the band. I wrote it like I write all my books — for those of us who like good books. The story of METALLICA is fascinating. Better than fiction. I felt it was time for a proper literary biography that was written for grown-ups.

PopMatters: I was surprised to learn little tidbits about the band in your book— James fronting an L.A. glam band without a guitar to hide behind (I just can’t picture it); the band listening to PETER GABRIEL and THE POLICE on the tour bus (Not very Metal Up Your Ass); and, most of all, Lars being such a terrible drummer and taking lessons up to the time of “Master Of Puppets”. Was there anything that surprised you in your research?

Wall: Not really. You have to understand I first met them when they were kids, nearly 30 years ago. The breadth of their musical interest was no surprise at all. It’s one of the main reasons they didn’t end up as SLAYER or IRON MAIDEN. Overall though, everything about the story surprised me. The main thing about my books is absolutely not to repeat what everyone else has said. To really think about things. To talk to those that were there, helping make key decisions, and to find out what was really going on, not what the fan writers say happened. It’s all in the nuances. They have to tell their own story and as the author, you have to pay attention and try and lay them (the stories) down even when they don’t initially seem to make sense to you.

Read the entire interview from PopMatters.