“St. Anger is a fragmented record by a fragmented band. I just couldn’t do Load, ReLoad, the same sound. I couldn’t set the drums up exactly the same. This is me saying, ‘I can’t do this again.’ And they were fine with that because they were like, ‘We don’t want to do that again.’ They were searching.
“The biggest problem with the record is that we didn’t have James. James didn’t write the songs in the same way he did that made the band successful. He had his issues to deal with, and so we made the best record that we could at that time.
“Also, there was a change in music. Lars was very influenced by System Of A Down, where there are no guitar solos. Guitar solos were changing, too – there was Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine. They weren’t wah-wah, super-fast solos. There were all of these things, and a band that was searching for something different.
“When I heard the band in rehearsal, there was a rawness to them that was really cool. The drum sound on the record is a rehearsal drum sound. It was supposed to be them in a garage. It doesn’t work in terms of the rule of metal, and the rules that people have established for that kind of genre, which basically I kicked against, because it doesn’t mean anything to me. This was my version of The Stooges’ Raw Power, only with Metallica.
“The record had to be made so they could be happy with what they do. I was the sacrificial lamb. I always wanted the band that I had for the Black Album, and I never got that band again. But if people want me to say I regret what I did, I don’t. I made it more as a friend, as somebody who was supporting guys who were struggling. That’s probably not the greatest career move, but I’m fine with it.
“The result of that, the man that James Hetfield is today, was worth it. I’d do it all over exactly the same. He’s a great man and father now, so that’s what’s most important.”
“But two people have come up to me and told me how much they liked St. Anger: Jimmy Page and Jack White. So if two people in the world like the record, and it’s those two people, I’m fine with it.” [Laughs]