Exclusive interview with Joel for Harvester of Sofia

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Joel McIver is an author, journalist, editor and album compiler. He’s written 14 books (20 more exist in translation) and writes for magazines such as Rolling Stone, Metal Hammer, Total Guitar, Classic Rock, Bass Guitar and Record Collector. He also writes about films for DVD Review magazine and regularly appears on radio and TV. More about Joel, his books and interviews you could find at his website: http://www.joelmciver.co.uk/

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-When and where you see Metallica live for the first time in your life and what do you remember from that show?

-It was 1988, on the Damaged Justice tour, in Newport, Wales. They were so amazing. I was 17 and could hardly believe that I was seeing Metallica from so close. They began with a huge version of ‘Blackened’ and the first encore was ‘Creeping Death’ – and Kirk played Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing’ in his solo. It was one of my first ever metal gigs and still one of the best to this day.

– If it was up to you what would you change in the live performance of Metallica?

-Now that James’ speed-picking is back to what it was in the 80s, I’m happy. I hated it when he got all strummy in the 90s. Personally I’d like to see fewer songs from Death Magnetic and more from Kill and Ride. If I could choose the setlist it would be ‘Hit The Lights’, ‘Motorbreath’, ‘Pulling Teeth’, ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Metal Militia’ (from Kill), ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ and ‘Trapped Under Ice’ (from Ride), all of Puppets, ‘Blackened’, ‘One’ and ‘Dyer’s Eve’ (from Justice) and then maybe ‘Sad But True’, ‘Ain’t My Bitch’ and a couple of the best songs from the rest of the catalogue. But I don’t think they’ll ever ask me to choose the setlist!

– Would you take the offer to work for Metallica if they ask you to?

-If one of them wanted me to co-write his autobiography, then yes of course.

– Where are the craziest Metallica fans you’ve ever met?

-Germany. They’re completely mad.

– Have you ever dreamed to be at James Hetfield’s place for example?

-No. Too much hard work for me!

– Do you believe that’s there is a possibility the big four (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Antrax) to go on tour together and what problems could appear between those bands?

-Yes, there’s a possibility but the logistics would be difficult. It would obviously be Metallica headlining and Anthrax playing first, but the other two bands would have to alternate each night, I’m sure. I think Dave Mustaine has said that he wouldn’t play on a round stage, but apart from that issue he’d probably be keen on the idea. I’d love to see some other thrash bands on the bill too – maybe Exodus, Testament, Dark Angel, Kreator…

– According to you, Metallica will stop touring after how many years from now?

-Five to ten years from now, and after that they will do occasional gigs here and there. The same goes for Slayer and the other big thrash bands.

– Which bands make the best Metallica cover songs? What covered song by Metallica is your favourite?

-I haven’t heard any covers that I particularly like, although I was surprised at how good Nickelback’s version of ‘Sad But True’ was.

– What do you think, about the moment Dave Mustaine left the band in 1983? That decision gave us two great bands – Metallica and Megadeth or deprived us of one gigantic band?

-It was the correct decision. Both bands are great. I have a good relationship with Dave, he said some kind things about me here: http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=47698

– Do you think that if Cliff was alive Metallica would look other way?

-Difficult question! Perhaps they would be playing a wider range of songs with some Southern rock and stoner grooves included, because Cliff was a big fan of that kind of music.

– Six years later what do you think about St. Anger, after we all knew the history and all the problems and difficulties in the creation of this record (no bassist, Hetfield’s condition, and all those doubts if there’s going to be Metallica or no.)

-I can’t listen to that album apart from the last few minutes of ‘All Within My Hands’, which are epic!

– What is the influence, according to you, of Rob in the band, including live performances and the last album Death Magnetic?

-I think Rob’s main influence is his attitude. He’s very positive and he enjoys challenges, which must be really inspiring for the other guys. Live, he is incredible. I have total respect for him.

– Where do you rate Death Magnetic amongst the other albums?

-If each album gets a score out of a maximum 10 points, I’d say it goes: Kill 8, Ride 9, Puppets 10, Justice 7, Black 6, Load 4, Reload 2, Garage 5, S&M 4, St Anger 1, Death Magnetic 4.

– Should Metallica continue work with Rick Rubin for their following records?

-I don’t know but my instinct is that they probably won’t, because Lars told me that he likes producers who kick them in the ass like Bob Rock did. Rubin’s style is much more mellow.

– After ten years with which songs from the album the fans will relate to Death Magnetic?

-I’m not a big fan of the album but I think ‘Broken, Beat & Scarred’ and ‘Cyanide’ will remain in the setlist for a long time.

– How did you felt when your very first published book was finally in your arms?

-It was amazing. It was in 2000 and the book was called Extreme Metal. It wasn’t a very good book but it looked great!

– What is your relation with Metallica now and did you finally receive their approval after the second book was a fact?

-They know who I am but I don’t have a relationship with them as such. The books weren’t officially endorsed by them but they’ve been happy to give me interviews over the last couple of years, such as when Kirk wrote the foreword to the Cliff book and when Lars did the foreword to my next book, the autobiography of Glenn Hughes.

– In the book ‘Justice for all: the truth about Metallica’ your opinion for the songs form Load/Reload is negative. Now, some years after, do you support your opinion that those are the weakest Metallica albums?

-No, I think St. Anger is worse than the Loads. I thought then, and I still think now, that there are about six or seven good songs on those two albums.

-Did you have the approval of Ray Burton before you make the book and what is your relation with him?

-No, we’ve never spoken. I thought it would be disrespectful to chase him down for an interview, he’s had enough tragedy in his life (the loss of two sons and his wife) without some unknown writer annoying him about a book.

– Do you think that if Kurt Cobain was alive, Nirvana would have become even more popular than Metallica?

-No, I don’t think so. Metallica are the Led Zeppelin of our generation and no-one (except possibly Iron Maiden) is as big as they are in heavy music.

– After 20 years from now which band will be the most popular in the world? Do you think that there is a new band with the potential to become the next Metallica, Iron Maiden or Slayer?

-No, I don’t see any band that could be as big as Metallica or Maiden and it worries me! The biggest modern metal band is Lamb Of God, and I can’t imagine them ever getting that big. I think it will be interesting in ten years from now to see who the big bands are, when today’s metal giants have retired.

– What you think of the porn clip that made band like Rammstein?

-Funny but instantly forgettable. The song is terrible, which is a shame because I like their early albums.

– The big Metallica machine is faster and stronger now and it seems that they won’t slow down. Is there a chance for us to see the second part of ‘The truth about Metallica’?

-An updated edition of the book is out now with a new chapter on Death Magnetic and a new interview with Lars – see here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Metallica-Justice-All-Joel-McIver/dp/1847727972/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1255419374&sr=1-3

– Do you know something for Bulgaria?

-I have a friend from Sofia but I don’t know anything about the country. I’d love to come and see it sometime!

– When your second book be published here in Bulgaria, translated in Bulgarian would you accept an invitation from us to come to the event organized specially for the book?

-Yes of course! Thank you, that would be fantastic. I recently went to Milan for the launch of the Italian book and we had a fantastic time with over 500 people, many of whom were members of the Metclub in Italy. I’d love to do the same in Bulgaria.

– Would you say something special to the members of HOS and all the fans of Metallica in Bulgaria?

-Thank you for supporting my books. I want to lay down the details of Metallica’s career for historical purposes and you’re helping me do that! Hope to meet you all sometime – and stay metal…

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