Bob Rock Says Metallica "Believe They're the Best Band in the World"

The Canadian producer reflects on working on four of the band's studio albums
Bob Rock Says Metallica 'Believe They're the Best Band in the World'
Photo: Herring & Herring
Metallica are celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band this year, and it's got everyone feeling like, well, nothing else matters.

The new issue of Metal Hammer contains a fitting tribute to the heavyweights: 40 new interviews with members of the group's inner circle — including longtime collaborator Bob Rock, who produced four of Metallica's studio albums, including their canonical 1991 self-titled fifth record The Black Album.

"Metallica are not wimps," Rock told the magazine [via Louder]. "They believe that they're the best band in the world, and everyone else needs to get out of the way."

Initially, he'd turned down the band's offer to let him mix their fifth album. Then best-known for his work with Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, Rock dauntlessly proposed that he produce the album instead.

Co-founders Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield found his initial refusal to work with them insulting, but they were intrigued enough by his confidence and willingness to set his own terms that they make the trek to Vancouver to hear him out.

Rock's power move opened up a 15-year working relationship, but the collaborative process — especially in those early days — was far from free of tension.

"Metallica didn't trust outsiders," the producer explained. "Not just me; they were suspicious of everybody. I can say that I'd never been involved with people who were as intense as them."

However, Rock added: "It'd be kinda boring if everyone did everything you suggested!"

He continued: "Making an album can be an intense experience. You're thrown into a room with other strong-willed, creative people for months and months and you have to find a way to listen to each other and make it work. I never said, 'No, you're wrong' — I just showed them other ways to potentially get what they wanted."

And the rest is rock history, which Metallica might teach in their new MasterClass.

In honour of its 30th anniversary, Exclaim! delved into how Rock and other Canadians helped bring the album — and its recent Blacklist tributes collection — into the world, as well as ranking all of the Blacklist's 53 covers. Guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo recently did a cover of their own, taking on Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein."