BackHistory: Part Three
In the summer of 2000, Metallica took yet fresher steps towards establishing freedom from convention, proving that it was possible to assemble, and headline, your own stadium tour without promoting a record. Summer Sanitarium, Hetfield's back injuries not withstanding, was a huge success, and anticipation grew as to when the band would hit the studio again.
The anticipation was replaced by fear at the turn of 2001 when, after several rumors, Jason Newsted departed the band, citing several long-standing issues that over time, as well as physical ailments related to his neck, back and shoulder rather that any one exact reason. Of course many assumed that this would precipitate the break-up of the band, when of course it merely provided a conduit to newer levels of creativity and understanding.
The band realized there was much work to be done on both their personal and creative relationships, and spent the first part of 2001 investigating spontaneous avenues of discovery both in and out of the studio. They set up shop at an old ex-Army barracks called The Presidio, jammed together at length and made a decision not to rush the process of finding a new band member, opting instead to have producer Bob Rock perform all bass parts.
In the middle of 2001, James Hetfield reached a place in his life where he felt rehabilitation, rest and re-focus were necessary for him to not only proceed with the project, but to flourish as a musician and human in general. It meant that for many months, the members of Metallica embarked upon various levels of deeper discovery about themselves, the band and their lives both as a band and human beings. The results were to manifest themselves two-fold: when they came together again in the Spring of 2002 there was a deeper respect and appreciation for each other than ever before. And they were finally ready to make a new album, free of outside expectations, free of inner expectations and independent of anyone.
Settling into their new HQ, the band set about making St. Anger with Bob Rock. Those early Presidio sessions had certainly helped shape the freeform thinking and expression that was to come, but no one, least of all the guys themselves, could've known just how fierce, raw and passionate the St. Anger material would turn out to be. With Rock always offering prompt and support, lyrics were written by everyone, writing was shared and performance was off the cuff, spontaneous and a 180 degree turn from the months of meticulous fine-tuning which had become a part of the Metalli-recording process in the past.
This Metallica was proud, confident, appreciative, humble, hungry, edgy, angry, but more importantly, they were also happy. Nervous? Sure, a little bit, but that too was good ... yet another driver to new places and creative achievements that Metallica were enjoying.
It was in the Fall of 2002 that the band decided it was time to search for a new bassist, and after some closed auditions with personal invitees over a few months, ex-Suicidal Tendencies/Ozzy Osbourne bass player Robert Trujillo was chosen to be the new member of Metallica. Note: member. Not just a bassist or hired gun or replacement. But a band member, a real part of the family. His whole demeanor - happy, relaxed, warm, enthusiastic blended with over 15 years of experience and a ferocious finger-picking style - made Robert the only natural choice.