The band sets itself up for radio airplay

Metallica — the dudes who put the ”h” in thrash metal — chose to record their new album with ultracommercial producer Bob Rock, the dude who transformed anonymous hard-rockers like Whitesnake into anonymous hard-rockers who get radio airplay. Will his magic touch make Metallica radio regulars too?

”If it happens, it happens,” says James Hetfield, the band’s lyricist, singer, and rhythm guitarist. ”But it happens our way, which is cool. ‘Sellout’ is not even in our vocabulary.” When bands bring up words like that before the interviewer does, it usually means they’re worried. These guys shouldn’t be, because they have nothing left to prove and, as lead guitarist Kirk Hammett says, ”You can’t listen to this album and say, ‘Oh God, this is just like Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet.”’

”Enter Sandman,” the album’s first video, is only the second clip minimalists Metallica have ever done. Why so few? ”We didn’t really give a s—,” says Hetfield. Most of what he sees on MTV only makes him angry, he adds. ”Nowadays it’s really strange — all these giant acts selling millions of records, and no one comes to f—ing see ’em.” Why not? ”Because they can watch them on MTV, pretty much. And they can get a better look at ’em.”

Metallica: Too smart to sell out anything but stadiums.