Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 15: The Unforgiven

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

Metallica! One of the biggest Metal bands ever and certainly one of the most important Thrash Metal bands back in the day. A lot of die hard fans accused the band of selling out when they released their self-titled album, better known as The Black Album, in 1991. I love that album! Well, these days I skip the ballads, but I was fine with Metallica doing their first ballads when the album was released. I was a late bloomer when it comes to Metallica. I played guitar in a band that covered “Seek and Destroy” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” from the first two albums, but someone else in the band brought those tracks to the table. The first album I bought was the third album; Master of Puppets (1986). It’s a true masterpiece that turned me into a true fan. Unfortunately I missed the band’s first show in Norway, on the subsequent tour the same year. Anthrax was the supporting act which made it a great package. It would also have been the last chance to see bass player Cliff Burton onstage, as he was killed in a bus accident in Sweden a couple of days later. I have seen the band numerous times later though. It’s an ass kicking live band!

Ad for Metallica/Queensrÿche's show in 1988
Ad for Metallica/Queensrÿche’s show in 1988

In 1988 Metallica released …And Justice For All and visited Norway again with Queensrÿche opening for them. I was excited to be offered interviews with both bands. I went to the venue early to do the Queensrÿche interview with singer Geoff Tate first. The Metallica interview was supposed to take place a couple of hours later. I had waited a loooong time when I got the message that the band was late. The doors opened and thousands of Metalheads ran towards the stage. Queensrÿche started their set and I was still waiting in the hallway, being told the band would soon be ready for me. Luckily I was there with a friend so we took turns watching the support band and waiting for access to Metallica, one song each.

The interview didn’t happen, but I got this!

At the end of Queensrÿche’s set the label guy told me that the band had to prepare for the show and that the interview would not happen. So, I missed half of Queensrÿche’s set and didn’t get the Metallica interview. It would take quite a few years before I was offered to interview them again. To cheer me up the label gave me a signed copy of …And Justice For All, which I of course still have in my possession. I was actually asked if I wanted to sell it not that long ago. I didn’t even bother to ask how much the guy would offer for it. The album is NOT FOR SALE! Metallica put on a great show that night, as they usually do. I am not a bootleg guy, but since I had the recording equipment in the bag I recorded the encore. I remember they made fun of Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”. It was a hilarious version.

In the summer of 1991 I was sent a promo copy of “Enter Sandman”, which was the first single off the forthcoming album. For some strange reason I liked the B-side best. It was a cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy”. Of course, I changed my mind later. The same summer I went to the Monsters of Rock festival in Copenhagen to see Metallica play along with Queensrÿche, The Black Crows and AC/DC. Metallica opened their set with the new single and played one more track, “Sad But True”, off the new album that would be released a couple of days later. It was a great festival and a great party! The following year Metallica visited Norway again. This time they played in the new Oslo Spektrum arena where they would go on to play several times later. I have lost track of how many times I have seen the band play that venue or in general.

Ticket for the 2003 gigThe next time I was offered an interview with Metallica was in 2003. They played two sold out nights in Oslo on the St. Anger tour. That must be the only album I cannot stand listening to, exclusively because of the snare drum sound. I was attending a conference out of town so I hadn’t planned to go to the show. When the label called me and asked if I could do an interview I packed my bags and headed back to Oslo right away. I entered Oslo Plaza Hotel, which actually has a walkway to the arena (convenient for the performing artists), for the interview. I was told that I was going to interview drummer Lars Ulrich and the new bass player, Robert Trujillo.

The latter showed up first and told me that Lars was late due to his daily massage. There was time for some chit-chat while waiting so we talked about the last time we met. Robert then played in Cyco Miko’s band (the vocalist in Suicide Tendencies) who did a show at Rockefeller Music Hall in Oslo years earlier. After the show they had come out to meet the fans. We had waited a while and Lars was nowhere to be seen so we started the interview. There was enough to talk about, especially since Robert was a new member in Metallica. All of a sudden Lars threw himself over the back of the couch: “Hello, I am Lars, the drummer”. We had a nice talk about playing in the biggest Metal band in the world and about having bad days at work. 

Before asking James for the station ID…

After the interview the band lined up for a photo session as they were handed gold or platinum records for the new album. Afterwards there was some finger food and drinks for the press. I had already recorded a station ID with Robert and Lars, and as I ended up standing next to James Hetfield at the buffet, I turned on the recorder and asked if he could do a station ID for Metal Express Radio. It didn’t take long before I understood that this was a huge mistake. The look James gave me through his yellow tinted glasses almost made me wet my pants. He stared angrily at me for a few seconds (it seemed like forever to me) before he said: “No, I don’t think I can do that. Not right now”. At the same time two bodyguards grabbed my arms and asked “Who are you, what are you doing? Who are you, what are you doing?”

How do I remember exactly what was said? I got it all on tape. Luckily, the PR guy from the Norwegian label office came over and took me to the side. I was a bit shaky and didn’t really know what to do other than leaving the place. I still don’t know what was wrong about asking for that station ID. The guys were there to meet the press. I have asked for hundreds of station IDs throughout the years, and it has never been a problem.

When I came home I made a station jingle out of the recording anyway and it still runs on the radio: “Hi James, would you mind making an ID for Metal Express Radio?” “No, I don’t think I can do that. Not right now.” “Who are you, what are you doing? Who are you, what are you doing?” Then the PR guy says in Norwegian: “Hey, wait a minute”. That same day there were gay parades in Oslo that I noticed on the TV on my way out of the hotel. So I recorded the following and added to the end of the jingle “I was just asking if he was watching the gay parades. Big deal. Duh”. Note to self: always ask for permission before asking James Hatfield for a station ID!

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  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

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