So What! Article

“You Gotta Grate the Tuna!”

Apr 15, 2020

Yes, ROB TRUJILLO said “grate” and “tuna” not “grade” and “tune.” Steffan Chirazi decided to “zoom” Robert Trujillo down on the SoCal Westside for a check in. He emerged with this new-found knowledge and more...

These are weird times. We are all mostly indoors, and we are all figuring things out. Some are having a particularly hard time, and to them we can only wish the very, very best, and hope fortune and fortitude can carry them through this horrific health or economic hardship. Most of us are muddling through having routines and lives thrown asunder by COVID-19, a communal, universal worldwide reality. It is certainly a different experience from one street to the other, I would never suggest otherwise, however there are essential similarities in our collective situations. With that in mind, I thought it’d be good to get our old mucker Rob Trujillo on the zoom video thing and check in on what he’s been up to. What follows is our catch-up, and while we both again acknowledge what a stressful time this is, we did also find time to discuss some lighter stuff and in the process have a giggle. All I can say is, anyone in his vicinity needs to be sure their garden hoses are safely stored…

Steffan Chirazi: First of all, just share what you’ve been doing with your time in shelter in place.

Robert Trujillo: Well, I have been working on a lot of music. I’ve been reconnecting with my Pro Tools setup which is for the purpose of recording songs and ideas. And that’s kinda like going back to school. I have a friend up in San Francisco that’s a Pro Tools master and he’s my sensei right now. So anyway, I haven’t done that in about 10 years and it’s nice to kind of reconnect, take the time in seclusion and devote it to a learning experience. At the same time, it’s important to figure out a way to get outside and get some fresh air. For us, we’re in a bit of a secluded area so it’s not so difficult to walk around and have social distancing be part of our existence. The only time where it gets a little scary is when we have to go to the grocery store, you know? That’s like kinda wow, you know, where we’re on the edge here.

SC: The pressing question… you have enough toilet paper, I presume?

RT: You know, you can never have enough toilet paper. We don’t have the Japanese toilets, but it’d be great if we did…

SC: I have to agree. [Or] the bidet—

RT: Save a lot of money.

SC: The bidet is the way to go right now.

RT: Yeah.

SC: And I actually considered trying to sort of fashion one, but I realized I don’t have the skills. Did you consider the homemade bidet route at all?

RT: Well, you know, if you got a garden hose and your window is close enough to your toilet, you can figure it out.

SC: This whole thing is strange and also, you know, we have to take a moment and say we’re thinking of everyone who is going through an incredibly hard time right now and really hoping that they all come through, whether that be through sickness or other things.

RT: Yeah. I mean, obviously we’re starting to realize how serious this is and how even people that are either [your] acquaintances, personal friends or family have actually had the virus. It just starts to creep up, and you see how many people are starting to actually die from this virus. So it’s very important that we practice whatever form of sanitization, [and] again social distancing. The other side of this too that’s really important is, and I was telling my son this many years ago… back in the ‘80s when I’d go on tour, I wasn’t completely comfortable with being gone for extended periods of time and I’d get bored! I’d be in the hotel room bored. And then I started to realize, well, if you have time, time can be your friend and you can channel your energy in a way that it’s productive. Whether it’s learning something, learning a language. Reading books. You know, my wife’s been practicing ballet again because there’s a lot of online lessons you can take - not so much for me, I’m more break dancer, see, so I get…

SC: You flip your stack yeah [this is a blatantly stupid thing to have quipped and shows the author knows bugger all about break dancing – ED].

RT: On my head! But you know, there are so many productive ways to occupy your time. You can also reconnect obviously to movies and films and whatnot, but at the same time, albums. Music. The last couple nights I’ve been making dinner for the family; I never really did this. I mean it’s not on that level where I’m actually “the chef”—

SC: So this is not like some Gordon Ramsey thing where he’s gonna come and swear at you because you’re messing up in the kitchen, no?

RT: It gets a little bit like that, but I mean… it’s kind of…

SC: Come on. We’re here now. Let’s talk about Robert Trujillo in the kitchen. What did you make?

RT: Let’s see, the other night I made tuna melts and that was really good.

SC: What is the Robert Trujillo tuna melt recipe?

RT: You finely grate your tuna. You finely grate it. I learned this many years ago on tour with Suicidal Tendencies. My bass tech at the time, he always swore by the art of sandwich making, and more specifically tuna. And so me and this guy would create these sandwiches that were what we called world famous. And the tuna was always very finely diced, really like almost to a powder grate, and then you had your mixture of mayonnaise and mustard. My choice is always like a Grey mustard. And—

SC: Do you have any Grey Poupon?!

RT: Grey Poupon, [that’s] more the Americanized version of what I would like to use. Then you can add garlic powder to that, or minced onions or whatever. Whatever you want. And you just mix that puppy up. I’m giving you my recipe.

SC: You toast it in the pan?

RT: Exactly! We had run out of regular bread, we only had hot dog buns, so we used the hot dog buns. And basically, you cut the top bun so it’s a bit flat, you butter that, butter the bottom. Slice of cheese. Tomato. Put that down, put it in your oven. Keep an eye on it. Cheese melts, you have an amazing sandwich. There you go, the recipe for the day.

SC: Excellent. That is a great recipe.

RT: I made tacos too the other night, you know? Hard shell!

SC: Tacos as well? So this is opening up your kitchen skills.

RT: Exactly. And it’s fun. My kids are really enjoying this, and my wife is impressed. I think she’s impressed. She’ll never fully admit it, but I think she’s actually pretty impressed that I’m able to command these meals.

SC: How empty are the plates every night?

RT: Hey, they’re empty! The stuff is good.

SC: That’s approval. What more do you want?!

RT: Who knew that I had this in me? As strange and crazy as all this is, you can find positive ways to exist.

SC: I think that’s key, for mental health alone. I think what you’re saying, and what I would back up, is it has to be done just for your mental health. Whatever your situation. You just have to live your life as best you can and, as you say, re-engage with things that maybe you haven’t engaged with for years or ever. I think that’s really important.

RT: I agree. You know, musically I’ve been very active. I’ve been going through all of my ideas and delegating where they would live. This is great for this; this is great for that. Super strong for Metallica. So that’s been actually very productive too for me. The creative juices are flowing right now. There are times where I’m hearing my son Tye, [and] he’s schooling me in his recording skills. I’m here trying to get Pro Tools situated and he’s up there with his recording setup, and I mean he’s programming drums, crazy double kick patterns, technical stuff. I’m hearing guitar riffs and bass riffs and just full composition. And I’m here, like a kindergartener trying to get a few basic parts down. It’s kind of exciting to see that energy happening at least in my immediate world, [because] creativity is really, really a great form of therapy as well.

SC: So you’ve been creative, and you’ve been enjoying that, and equally you’ve also been into your Netflix and Amazon Prime. We were chatting the other day about the great man that was Bruno (Sacha Baron Cohen).

RT: Oh, man! This guy, I’ve been reconnecting with my Sacha Baron Cohen, you know, my love for his humor. And I get it, it’s not for everybody, but I just remember many years back, maybe it’s been ten years or so, some of the cool stuff he did. Just real edge-of-your-seat humor and there’s so much political correctness and all this craziness. If you step outside of that head space for a minute and you allow yourself to take some of this in that he was dishing out, it’s a good laugh. Allow yourself the freedom to laugh. It’s okay.

SC: You like a laugh for sure.

RT: You know, my wife would completely look down on me for this, but I love that kinda humor. Like, I get the Three Stooges. I love the movie Idiocracy, you know? The Wayans Brothers. Something for everybody.

SC: Idiocracy is a documentary these days, right?

RT: Yeah. Yeah. Totally.

SC: So any dramatic movies that you’ve enjoyed? Let’s get into some of the stuff you would flag. Let’s give the Metallica Family some stuff they need to watch and some things they need to listen to, that you’ve experienced recently.

RT: Okay, so for me, Parasite was a great film. I’m still one of the biggest fans of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I think that movie is so entertaining and well written, and I watched that film after coming back from Europe. I think I arrived at maybe noon, and we could only get tickets for the 11:00 pm showing that night, and I managed to stay awake with massive jet lag and watch that film in the movie theater. I tend to fall asleep when I’m even just half bored or whatever, but I was thoroughly entertained. I love Tarantino movies. Also 1917, great film. Very well made. A bit more serious, but great filmmaking right there and great acting. I highly recommend those three films. Now for music, I’ve been listening to a fair amount of Pink Floyd. Live at Pompeii is always something that is special to me. And for my meals I’ve been listening to Soundgarden, Superunknown.

SC: For your meals?

RT: For my meals, when I’m preparing my meals.

SC: So when you’re making your tuna melt sandwiches you’ve been listening to Superunknown by Soundgarden?

RT: Yes.

SC: Is that part of the recipe?

RT: I don’t know. I just… Chris Cornell’s voice, it’s speaking to me right now. There’s something about it, a richness and a soulfulness that is just connecting with me at the moment.

SC: Well, it’s very melancholic, right? Subconsciously connects with everything right now, I guess…

RT: Definitely. Well, he’s a very soulful singer, so I’ve been connecting more with the soulful side of music and even like some of the older stuff like the singer Marvin Gaye, and some of the stuff that he had recorded was connecting with me, like the What’s Going On album. So I’ve been going down that route with music, but at the same time, I always gotta have my good old ‘70s funk rock in there, and at the same time maybe [some] late ‘70s, early ‘80s British movement. And I don’t just mean New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I’m talking about more alternative bands like a bit of Bauhaus, a bit of Killing Joke, you know, Bowie. Bowie’s always great. When you have time, and you can dive into that rabbit hole and start exploring some of these bands and these different types of music, it’s very interesting and entertaining. I mean look, when we’re cruising in the car, we’re listening to a lot of everything. We’re listening to Annihilator, we’re listening to the band Death, we’re listening to Morbid Angel. You know, Cannibal Corpse. Obviously, we listen to Sabbath.

SC: You listen to Cannibal Corpse while you drive?

RT: These are the standards in the Trujillo vehicle.

SC: How many speeding tickets do you have?

RT: Exactly!

SC: You don’t tailgate??? Surely you must be the most, biggest tailgater on the planet.

RT: I am!

SC: With that kind of [soundtrack], you must be right up behind people, right?

RT: I am. But this is the interesting thing. I’m listening to this music with my family, [and] I can easily switch gears and get into some of the other more soulful music that I was talking about. I’ve also recently discovered some of the newer school alternative artists. There’s a band called Wand, and there’s a really great album by Wand. They’re a southern California band, I think from Pasadena, and there you’ve got a retro flavor. It’s almost like a cross between early Floyd, you know, Syd Barrett era meets The Beatles meets Black Sabbath. And it’s just, this music is so pure to me. I saw them play couple months ago and it was impressive. I highly recommend an album called Golem. Check that out. Yeah, I think you’ll like it. That in particular, they’ve got like seven albums, and that’s the album that I really like.

I like their weird dynamic range, a lot of melody but then a lot of heavy, it’s like a bit like a roller coaster. So there’s my recommendation. The new band is Wand, the album is Golem. Check out your soul singers and your soul music from the ‘70s right up to Chris Cornell, and your movies would be, you know, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 1917, Parasite. And get outside and get some fresh air when you can. Make a tuna melt.

SC: A proper one.

RT: A proper one, yeah.

SC: Good stuff. Well, hey, thank you for checking in, and let’s do this again soon, maybe next week.

RT: No worries and wait…

[Rob jumps up and starts tickling a few ivories!]

SC: Yes! Was that, those are the first notes of the new Metallica recording. They’re right there. The first note. A world exclusive!*

RT: Some metal.

SC: All right, man. See you later, have a good one.

RT: Bye.

*This is sarcasm. Rob was simply playing a few notes on a fucking piano and it is obviously NOT “the first notes of the - even ‘a’ - new Metallica recording.” I mean, maybe there will be piano on it, who knows because it hasn’t even been thought about yet. Just to be clear.