Metallica's Robert Trujillo Reveals How They Paid Tribute to Cliff Burton on 'Hardwired...To Self-Destruct'

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Dec 1, 2016

Following eight years of studio silence, Metallica roared to life with their new album Hardwired...To Self-Destruct last month. With 2016 also marking 30 years since the release of the band's seminal Master of Puppets and the 30th anniversary of the death of much-loved former bassist Cliff Burton, the thrash metal vets have revealed that they looked to pay tribute to the fallen bandmate on their latest record.

Before an intimate charity show at Toronto's Opera House this week, bassist Robert Trujillo revealed to Exclaim! TV's Aggressive Tendencies that he had written the opening instrumental section of Hardwired's "ManUNkind" in memory of Metallica's legendary bass player. In the beginning of the song, Trujillo deftly fingerpicks a melodic bassline alongside James Hetfield's clean guitar, reminiscent of Burton's own solo bass sections.

"When I had written that, I was definitely thinking about Cliff," Trujillo tells us. "In a way, that to me is a tip of the hat to Cliff Burton and the spirit of Cliff. If you hear that little thing before 'ManUNkind,' for me personally, that was with Cliff in mind."

Burton died in 1986 when the band's tour bus crashed travelling through Sweden on their "Damage Inc. Tour" in support of Master of Puppets. Jason Newsted then held the bassist position until his resignation in 2001. Trujillo, who has played bass with Metallica since 2003, feels no pressure when compared to his low-end predecessors.

"Whether it's Jason [Newsted] or myself or Cliff, we're all different types of players coming from a different place, but delivering what is best for the band," he said. "That's all I ever do, just try and do the best I can and cater to the song, cater to the music."

Trujillo also suggests fans won't have to wait eight years for new Metallica material again; he's already working on ideas because he's so excited about what's going on. The post-Death Magnetic break was the result of a collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu, and a film, Metallica: Through the Never, with writing for their 10th full-length really starting two years ago.

"As most people know, with a brand new Metallica release usually there's some space and time between albums, but in this last sort of gap, we were actually very busy," Trujillo says. "And it wasn't obviously related completely to this release and the writing of these songs; we actually did an album with Lou Reed [and] that took some time, and that was important for us. It was something we needed to go through, and Lou is a legend and an icon and a creative force, so we wanted to do that, and we also made a movie called Through the Never, which was also important to us and that took a couple of years.

"With that said, I believe that these creative challenges and these journeys that we take make us a better band. The important thing is we're here now, and I don't think it's ever going to take this long to make another record. I'm already coming up with new ideas because I'm excited about what's happening."
Elsewhere in the interview, he also spoke about why the band are playing intimate shows, as well as the energy and synergy they're taking away from them, with the group hoping to apply that to bigger stages when they take Hardwired on a proper tour.

"The small show format has created sort of an energy and balance between us, where we like to sort of play together more now, and we're realizing the importance of that and how much fun we have when we're all together. Hopefully we'll capture that same balance when we play on the bigger stages; we've even talked about that, too, keeping that unity and some of that energy where we're feeding off of each other, and that's what we rediscovered in playing these small shows."

Hardwired...To Self-Destruct is out now through the band's own Blackened Recordings. Watch Trujillo speak on his tribute to Burton, as well as everything else, below, where you'll also find the video for "ManUNkind."

Latest Coverage