Joel McIver exclusively for Harvester of Sofia: It’s a shame that we’ll never know where would Cliff take Metallica

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The band deserves enormous respect for making the Big Four tour happen – Joel McIver exclusively for Harvester of Sofia

Joel McIver is a British author. The best-known of his 17 English-language books (20 more exist in translation[1]) is the bestselling Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica,  first published in 2004 and selling close to 40,000 copies in eight languages since then. McIver’s other works include biographies of Slayer, Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Ice Cube, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Queens Of The Stone Age, and the Sex Pistols.

In February 2009 McIver announced the first ever biography of the late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, for which Kirk Hammett supplied a foreword. It is already available in Bulgarian, so Harvester of Sofia made contact with Joel. He gave his second interview for the Bulgarian local Metclub chapter.

– Hi, Joel, your already have three books published in Bulgaria, how do you feel when even in a small country like ours you’re becoming popular?
– It’s a great compliment when anyone is interested in my work. Thank you to all those in Bulgaria who have supported me!

– In our previous interview, we talked about a possible Big Four tour. What is your opinion about the shows now that they are a fact? Did the bands meet your expectations?
– Yes, they all played incredibly well. I was at the first show and I didn’t see any performance errors or technical problems, although I’m sure there were some behind the scenes. It was a real milestone for me to see that show, I never thought it would happen. Metallica deserve enormous respect for making it happen.

– I know you were at the Big Four show in Poland, did you like the audience and do you think the audience appreciated equally well all the bands?
– It’s difficult to say because Anthrax played quite early in the afternoon and the venue was only about 60% full, but the people who were there were all super-enthusiastic. The audience seemed like cool people – everyone knows how massive metal is in Eastern Europe ?

– The show in Sofia was more special than all others – it was directly broadcasted worldwide, it will be released on DVD, and at the end of the Metallica performance members from the other Big Four bands joint them to play together “Am I Evil?”. Did you attend this show live here in Sofia or watch it in a movie theater somewhere?
– No, I wasn’t there and I haven’t seen it apart from Am I Evil. The DVD will be amazing, but I was lucky enough to be at the Poland show which was the ultimate experience for me.

– Any idea why the band chose Sofia for this event?
– No idea, sorry.

– If you are abandoned on a deserted island and you have a discography of a single band, which one would you choose and why?
– Impossible to pick just one! It would be Metallica, Slayer, Morbid Angel, Miles Davis, Prince or Bach. That covers all the necessary emotions I think.

– You’ve shared a very interesting story in the book about Slayer …once when Tom Araya was drunk as dog, he pissed on the head of Kronos fromVenom. Do you know other fun stories with Slayer, Metallica or any other band?
– Hundreds! And most of them are in my books. Talking of fun stories, you should read Dave Mustaine’s autobiography, it’s great.

– Over the years, the Big Four have changed a lot – in the past it was all about sex, drugs and rock n roll. During Sonisphere’10 shows, Dave Ellefson mentioned that they were talking about family affairs and children. How do you think family life has affected the bands’ music, touring and performance?
– I think the major difference is that they have more urgent priorities than the music now. Family is the most important thing in life for them just as it is for everybody else, so the logistics of touring are less easily managed now. I think the bands play as well as they ever did, though.

– The Big Four grew up together with their fans – fans who were 15-20 years old back then in the 80’s when the bands were becoming legendary, now in 2010 they are 35-40 years old . What is the difference between a Metallica show in 1988 and now in 2010? What do you think is the difference in the audience, the atmosphere?
– The atmosphere is the same but the audience is demographically wider, of course. The band play more professionally and obviously have the budget for a much larger production, but I would say that the raw energy and excitement of the early shows isn’t there now. That’s not Metallica’s fault, it’s just that stadiums don’t have the same feel as small clubs. I saw them play a show for a few hundred people back in 2008 and it was incredible.

– For various reasons, Metallica don’t seem to have luck with their bass players. Do you think Rob will stick with the band until the end? Hope he’s alive and well then?

– Who knows, but it seems probable as he’s the most energetic member of the band!

– On July 24 in Bulgarian town of Kavarna was held Kaliakra Rock Fest . Three of the biggest German  thrash bands – Destruction, Sodom, Kreator played there. What of these bands is your most favorite?
– Kreator but I like the others too. I recently wrote liner notes for the deluxe version of the last Kreator album, Hordes Of Chaos. They’re the best non-American thrash metal band of all time.

– Do you think Bulgarian fans got retribution for the past years when rock/metal music was not politically tolerated and concerts could not be carried out – now only within a month we have Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction? We feel kind of blessed… by The Gods of Thrash?
– I think that any repression of culture for political reasons is morally dubious, so the fact that metal is now in good shape in Bulgaria after having been suppressed for so long makes me very happy. Only fools and politicians blame anything on loud music.

– There are rumors for a special Metallica tour next year. We’ve heard that there will be shows only in 10 cities around the world. It is the 30-year anniversary of the band in 2011, do you know whether they are planning something special and will you make a hint in which cities we can expect them … we need to start saving money for tickets and hotels.
– I haven’t heard anything, sorry, but the band always have ideas up their sleeve.

– If they make a similar show in London, Paris or Berlin, would you visit all three shows? Are you willing to visit the pre-show parties, where you could meet some of the most dedicated fans of the band?
– Yes to both questions!

– In your book about Cliff you said that in his last interview he shared that Metallica intend on playing less heavy with not so complicated song structures – “… and justice for all” is not the right example, but the following albums The Black album, as well as Load and Reload are exactly such. We understand that Cliff was a big fan of the southern rock – is there a song in these three albums that has made you think – “this is what Cliff meant in his last interview”?
– Not on those albums, but I hear music by (for example) Kyuss and I wonder if Cliff might have gone in that direction. It’s a shame that we’ll never know.

– What do you expect from the next Metallica album? In our previous interview you said that you do not expect Rubin again as a producer? Which producer do you think would encourage the band to give their best? When do you expect the album to come out? Do you think that after the album release there would be an extensive tour like “Madly in Anger with the World” and “World Magnetic”?
– You really need to ask Metallica these questions ? but I can make an educated guess. I spoke to Rob in Poland and he seemed to think that Rubin is a possible choice of producer. Personally I think they should produce their own albums. I expect there will be an album and tour in another two to three years.

– I guess you know Stefan Chirazi, he promised to give us an interview! Can you suggest some interesting questions to blow his mind?
– I met Steffan for the first time in Poland, although we’ve been in contact on the internet for a long time. Ask him about editing So What and how it works – does he sit down with the band and suggest ideas for features, and so on.

– Tell us a few words about yourself and your family?
– I’m married with two kids. We live in the country near London and have a great life. I have no complaints at all ?

– Currently the voice of James is much rougher and generally the sound of Metallica is much thicker than 28-29 years before. When listening to Hit the Lights, Motorbreath, Seek on live shows, don’t you think that they should re-record Kill em All?
– No, I love that album! They should remix Justice and add bass, but otherwise the 1980s albums sound perfect as they are.

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