Metallica in Shanghai

Quotes and video from Metallica on their first visit to China

Photos: Jake Newby
Music fans from across the country descended upon Shanghai this week for Metallica's first ever China appearance. Playing back-to-back sold out shows at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 August, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo treated the crowds to immense sets packed with classic material and clearly thoroughly enjoyed their China debut. 

Time Out was in attendance both nights and also had a chance to speak with the band at an exclusive meet and greet session. Below are some quote and video highlights from Metallica's time in Shanghai.

Video Claire Slobodian

On playing in China for the first time

James Hetfield I was very amazed at the response and the reaction, the energy that was given to us. I didn't expect it to be that intense. I was told that people would be sitting down and clapping and very polite. And that would be fine as well, but we were very excited to see people singing the words, joining in and becoming a part of the show, which is what we really love.

Kirk Hammett I was really blown away by how great the audience was and how familiar they were with our material.

Robert Trujillo It was great to see that it was also a mixed batch of people - you had lots of women, lots of young people, lots of older people all enjoying it, standing up all the way to the top. That's important, we feed off that and it helps us have a better show.

JH Older people like us?

RT Maybe not that old.

On what took Metallica so long to come and play in China

Lars Ulrich Umm, we weren't invited until now. At least not to my knowledge. The e-mail shows up in the inbox, 'do you want to come to China?' and we're like 'of course we do'. We have a tendency in this band to... people come to us with 'come to our festival', 'come make a record with Lou Reed' - people throw ideas at us and we quite often say yes. We're not particularly pro-active at pushing ourselves into places or situations. We sort of just get invited. Not to my knowledge have we ever been invited before. I know that other bands have played here before, but it was just the matter of the right time. Sooner or later, Metallica shows up.

On filming a documentary in China

LU New experiences bring opportunities for new collaborations and new creative endeavours - it's that simple. Being here in this wonderful country and feeling the energy and excitement, the idea came up to celebrate it and to try to document it and to try to get the experience out. As you know, there are a lot of you and there may be 20,000 of you who came to this arena yesterday and today so we figured that if we filmed and shared the experience then maybe we could get to more of you and maybe there could be a next level relationship between Metallica and China that could last for decades. 

The idea came up fairly last minute and we love creative endeavours where we make it up as we go along. There's an impulsive energy that comes with that that can be very beautiful and kind of cool and the last few weeks this idea came together of filming here and maybe bringing some local bands into it and bringing some actors in and maybe some way bridging this into the Through the Never movie that we made in the United States. We are making this up as we go along, but it's all being documents - everything we do is always documented - so we're excited about that and we think that there is something cool that will come out of it. Whatever that is, we're not quite sure yet, but we'll do our best to make it shareable and worth everybody's while.

On interactions with Chinese fans

LU [After the show] we went back to the hotel and ate dinner...

JH The owner of the restaurant liked us... but he was French so...

lars ulrichLU We've been doing meet and greets and the interactions with the fans have been very emotionally engaged, they're very appreciative and thankful that we're here. Obviously there is a language barrier. What we try to do, we try to loosen the moment with banter and so on and some of that doesn't seem to translate when there's language issues or whatever, but you can feel that there is a passion and that there's been a longing for this moment that is really special. 

Most of the time, the communication just comes from the audience when you're up on stage. You sense what's going on and what's coming back at you. People all over the world have different ways of expressing and you sort of learn that there is a correlation between the way people express themselves in different cultures to what they throw at you in gigs - in Italy, they're very much like passionate southern Europeans, in Latin America this happens and in certain Nordic countries they're a little more conservative. You learn those patterns along the way, but you could obviously sense that this moment had been a long time coming.

On piracy and bootlegged Metallica goods being sold in China

LU The one thing increasingly that we focus our energies on is trying to discern between what we can control and what we can't control. Increasingly, getting wound up and spending a lot of time on things that you can't control, it's just... I'd rather FaceTime with my kids or do something else. It is what it is. And that's a whole separate conversation about Chinese copyright issues, which maybe is not the time to do now. You can't control that so you just turn a blind side to it as best you can.

On touring as part of 'The Big Four' (with Slayer, Megadeath and Anthrax)

KH Those bands are definitely our peers, I don't know if they would classify as allies, but they are definitely within our generation. We all sort of came from the same sort of roots and that in itself is factual. For us, it's more a celebration of those four bands - us included - still being around and still making music in these times.

LU And borderline coherent.

JH For me, I heard a lot about the new wave of British heavy metal and what about The Big Four? I just thought, now's a chance to put that on the map. The Big Four was something that we were named way back when we were mortal enemies, battling for the top slot. And as you get older, like us, it's less about the competition, it's more about the celebration that, hey, we're still around. It's remarkable that all four of those bands are still around and have been playing for that long. You can't say that about the new wave of heavy metal.

On how long Metallica will keep going

JH We're all healthy right now. I'll tell you when my heart's done.

LU I'll tell you for him.