By Rob Brunner
March 20, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

A few hours before Metallica’s feverishly anticipated “secret” SXSW show tonight, frontman James Hetfield gave us the scoop on their impressive (and, based on a quick preview, ridiculously difficult) new Guitar Hero Metallica game, which hits stores March 29. “I actually first played [the original Guitar Hero] maybe a year ago,” he says. “Oh, I sucked. I thought it was not much like playing real guitar. It’s a game. But there are certain aspects that are pretty real. You have to strum at a certain time, press down at the same time. The drums, you have to hit things. But I don’t have four colored buttons on my guitar. It was like learning another instrument.” Now that his band has their very own game, packed with 28 Metallica songs, surely he’s gotten better? “No. [Laughs] There’s no desire, honestly. I love seeing the youth play it and get good at it and have fun with it and rock out together, but…I have a pretty large collection of real guitars that I love playing with.”As for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which will induct the band next month, Hetfield says, “We’re very honored to be recognized. There’s a whole genre around us that hopefully we can invite through the door. Hopefully there will be recognition for some of the bands that have changed music and changed people’s lives. That’s what I think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should be about. There are certainly a lot of bands that aren’t in there that I can’t belive aren’t: Motorhead, Rush, Judas Priest, Deep Purple. But for us to be in there, hopefully we can bring some awareness to heavy stuff.” The band has invited a slew of past collaborators to the ceremony, including former members Dave Mustaine (who declined the invite) and former bassist Jason Newstead. “We wanted to invite everyone who was involved with Metallica,” says Hetfield. “You know, the drama that goes around the Rrock and Roll Hall of Fame is pretty ridiculous most of the time. We’re trying to avoid that. We are a band that’s alive and feeling good and still creating, and we want it to be a family reunion. We’ve invited pretty much everyone from our first drum roadie to the head of the record company now, and all in between. We put the invite out there and anyone is welcome.”

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