Interview: Metallica on ‘Metallica Through the Never’ & Beyond


Almost like going backstage at a Metallica show, I went right from the Toronto International Film Festival press screening of Metallica Through the Never to an interview with the band. Well, most of them. Lars Ulrich was not available but I sat down with James Hetfield, Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett, while Joe Berlinger’s video crew filmed us for the 10th anniversary of his documentary Metallica: Some Kind of Monster. Through the Never, directed by Nimrod Antal, is an Imax Metallica concert movie and narrative story. While Metallica plays, Dane DeHaan stars as their roadie sent into the city to retrieve an important bag. Each new Metallica song seems to score a darker part of the roadie’s adventure.

Metallica Through the Never is also playing at Fantastic Fest next week and opens in IMAX on September 27, and theaters everywhere on October 4.

CraveOnline: Did you have a preference when, during the song, Nimrod could cut to the story?

Kirk Hammett: He made a lot of those decisions on when to cut from the concert footage into the narrative. But, over the course of time when we were working on shaping it and editing it so that the storyline was cohesive, I’m sure someone said, “You need to this sooner” or “you need to cut to that later.”

James Hetfield: I think a lot of it had to do with the balance too. This is two movies in one. Our management seemed to want more Metallica. We wanted more narrative. We want more Dane! It’s amazing! We’ve seen ourselves. So we were kind of fighting for more narrative and we pretty much used all the narrative there was at the end of the day. Then, like you asked, when does it start? You want to crescendo with the narrative as well along with the show, so not starting off too heavy in one or another.

Kirk Hammett: We actually had to shoot more narrative after a while. We realized that we had to do some reshoots so that we can add even more narrative into the film.

Which segments were additional, that hadn’t been in the first version?

Kirk Hammett: We must have seen at least a dozen different versions, a dozen different edits. Each one was completely different, but I know that there were a few reshoots with Dane. I think some of the water transition shots were done at a later point.

James Hetfield: Maybe some of the bag scenes.

Kirk Hammett: The bag scene at the end.

James Hetfield: It wasn’t effective enough.

Robert Trujillo: There’s bits and pieces of the riot also, cop cars flying around just to add some dynamic to that.

James Hetfield: More cop cars exploding.

Did I notice mics hanging down over the audience?

Kirk Hammett: No. No, you didn’t see anything like that. Pay no attention to that.

I was going to ask, was that for the film sound, or something you always do in your show?

James Hetfield: We always record every show. We release every show on so we do record every show. Why would you not? Why would you not film or record everything you do ever? Because your kids will throw it away later. We always record stuff so I hope you saw mics, because the sound quality is awesome so getting mics closer does help. Wanting the crowd to be loud, wanting the crowd to be a part of it. They are the fifth member, no doubt.

How did you like hearing the foley sound blend in with the songs, like the squealing tires?

James Hetfield: I got to be a part of some of some of the mixing of that which was a lot of fun. There were certain scenes where okay, he’s walking and that’s the wrong kind of shoe. It’s not like a men’s dress shoe. It needs to be more of a boot. That was fascinating to me, and how they can manipulate that and how they do add in afterwards. Also some of the stuff, like when we’re running to the stage, first going out there. I’m yelling something but they didn’t capture it so it’s trying to figure out, “What did he say?” I don’t know what I said. Come on mother-bleep? He’s like, “All right, you’ve got to say that.” It’s like, you can’t have that in there. Well, every little bit helps so we learned a lot about the movie world and even more about the sound world.

Kirk Hammett: There’s one sequence in there that’s a really, really cool sort of sound mix up. During one of the riot scenes, Dane backs up against a glass window. For a split second, you’re on the other side of the window hearing the muzak that’s happening. I think it’s a bank.

It’s the only time in the movie we don’t hear you.

Kirk Hammett: Exactly.

James Hetfield: How do you know that’s not us?

Kirk Hammett: That particular point ended up being the subject of a long discussion on whether or not we should have that or not. Most of us felt it was nice to have some sort of audio that wasn’t going to the concert footage part or the narrative part or the riot scene part. There was a nice break from everything, even though it’s like two seconds long. It really adds a lot to just the overall narrative.