Metallica imparts their four-plus decades of rock & roll wisdom in their new course via MasterClass, which launched on Thursday. They are the first band to offer a class on the streaming platform. In the course, they teach strategies for growing and staying together as a band, how to collaborate creatively, and develop and maintain a relationship with an audience, among other topics.
As James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo discuss in a trailer for the class, the importance of communication is key — not just for being creative musically but with your bandmates — and they touch on how ego and being too critical of each other almost broke them up.
In two exclusive clips from the course, Hetfield expounds on some of the principles taught in the course. He addresses navigating ego in one. “He wants to say what he wants to say first because he thinks that’s important, that he won’t get heard. I understand that. We’ve all got like that 18-year old in us that’s still wanting to run the show at times,” he explains, referring to communicating with bandmates. “Or I know when he’s sarcastic, he really means a little bit of that. So, I can take that with a grain of salt, but then also get past that and get down to understanding, ‘OK, here’s what he’s really saying.’ So, we all know each other and we continue after 40 years to learn more about each other.”
In another clip, he talks about the “Fifth Member of the Band,” also known as the audience. “People that show up at the show and they say afterward, ‘You know, yeah the songs were awesome, but man, there was a group of five people down in front of me, they were so into it. They were going nuts, and they were singing every single word’ and all of this,” he says. “They were more infatuated with the crowd than with us, and that to me is the fifth member right there, you know. You’re moving another person with your music and you’re influencing another person that’s watching them. So, it’s so multilayered.”
Metallica’s course also features the band dissecting some of their biggest hits, including “Enter Sandman” and “Master of Puppets,” taking the students through the songwriting process. The class culminates in an exclusive six-song performance.
“We have sustained our bond for more than 40 years because we’ve learned a lot about each other and ourselves over time,” Hetfield said in a statement. “In our class, we not only teach MasterClass members how we write songs and find inspiration for our music, but how the experiences we’ve had together have contributed to successful creative collaboration.”