James Hetfield admits he doesn't understand why fans watch live shows through their screen with the trend for recording songs on their smartphones and tablets 'like a robotic army.'
The Metallica main man reckons it could be a decision the fans come to regret in time as they will have a record of having attended a live concert but they didn't 'feel it.'
But Hetfield acknowledges how a fan enjoys or interacts at a show is their own choice and Metallica would never try to enforce a technology ban,
In an interview with Chris Hardwick of the Nerdist podcast he said: “At the gigs, it is somewhat frustrating when you look out and everyone's got the screen, and it's all the same. It's kind of robotic-army looking.
“Everyone's looking through their screen at you. It's really bad when someone's got their iPad. 'Wait a minute! I can't even see!' But what are you gonna do? We can't enforce anything, and, 'Don't bring your this and that.' You're coming to a concert and you're gonna celebrate it however you want. If you wanna remember you in that moment, that's great.
“You singing better than me into your phone and playing it later for someone that doesn't give a shit, maybe; or there's five hundred YouTube things from the same angle, we've got no control over that. You enjoy it how you wanna enjoy it.”
He continues: “I just wonder if later on you'd be thinking, 'Damn! Yeah, I have it memorized on here, but I didn't feel it — I didn't feel it completely.' So, it's up to them.”
Hetfield confirms the band have around 50-shows booked in 2017 and that is now their limit to touring after years of pushing the pedal to the metal which took its toll.
“My body has told me to tell these guys that fifty shows a year is kind of what we can do, so make the best of those,” he explained.
“And I think we all kind of agree in that. But fifty shows a year, that's pretty good. My body can handle that. Body, mind and spirit all need to kind of revitalize themselves at home, and days off for voices — things like that — so fifty shows a year, it goes pretty quick, I'm sure. I tell people, 'We're only doing fifty a year,' and they're saying, 'Oh my God! That's a lot.' And it's, like, it's not. It's not, really, compared to what we used to do.”
Reflecting on previous tours of five shows a week for up to four or five month stints he added: “We would come home, and we were divorced, girlfriends were gone, and we were addicted to a few substances, and we were fighting."
He added: “We would go and play where no one else would play. We're the working man's band. We'd go to the C, D and E markets, you know, and people would be so appreciative. Like, 'Oh my God! No one ever plays [some city in] Arkansas, but Metallica did.' And that says a lot. Even on promo tours — going, showing up… it shows your integrity, and it shows that… And nothing — well, I say that now, but who knows? There's probably new goggles that show up — but nothing is better than going to see a live show.
“You can listen to it, you can podcast it, you do all that stuff, but actually being there, your senses get slammed. And it's not just the music, it's not just the band — it's the atmosphere, it's the people next to you, it's that guy throwing up on your shoes."