Metallica appeared on “The Colbert Report” Tuesday night, the first night back after Stephen Colbert’s double Emmy win at the 65th Emmy Awards Sunday. Before thrashing out the end of the program to “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” Metallica sat down with Colbert to answer a few questions about their new movie, inspirational anger, and being able to get it up as aging rockers.
The band was on “The Colbert Report” Sept. 24 to promote their new movie, “Through The Never” (also a song from their bestselling self-titled “black” album), the title of which the Emmy-winning host asked them to explain. But before that he wanted to know why it was “Through The Never” and not “Next To The Always” or “Under The Sometimes.” Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer, submitted that in Russia the title was “Through The Impossible,” which gives it perhaps a clarifying twist.
The interview moved to Metallica’s style of showmanship. He asked if they were actually angry when they performed. Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett said he was “f****** p***ed, bro” when he rocked. But he said it with a smile. Lars said they rocked angrier when they were younger, but age had kind of mellowed them somewhat.
Colbert then turned to frontman James Hetfield. “Can you get your anger up, James?” he asked.
The double entendre was not lost on Hetfield, who paused self-consciously, smiling, shaking his head, trying to think of something to say. So Colbert tried to help him out.
“Do you need anger Viagra? Do you have to fake your anger-gasm?”
“Oh, man,” Hetfield finally interjected. “Well, we’re 50 on the outside and still working on growing up on the inside. So it’s still there.”
Stephen Colbert then told the four-man band (bassist Rob Trujillo was also present, laughing) that he felt like he needed a cup to listen to their heavy metal onslaught — because it came at a person “so hard and so fast.” He suggested that it was because they put their balls into their music.
To which Hetfield said, “All three of them.”
Colbert quickly asked, “Did your dad own a pawn shop?”
Hetfield, laughing, said that it was a requirement to be in the band.
Colbert also noted that Metallica rarely did television. The last time? “About a hundred years ago on ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Hetfield admitted.
Their faux conservative host didn’t even let that harmless line slide. “Back when Al Jolson was on… with Bill Murray?”
The band wasn’t there only for an interview, though. They performed a couple of songs for “The Colbert Report”: “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Master of Puppets.”
But what might have been the must-see part of the metal masters being on the late show may have come when they were introduced for “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” Jesuit priest Jim Martin, author of the interview recently conducted with Pope Francis II where he said the church shouldn’t be obsessed over gays, abortion, and birth control, stepped up, said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Metallica” — then threw up double devil’s horns (a traditional heavy metal salute), something some call a hand sign of satan and his minions.
And if Father Martin’s interview with the latest pope didn’t do it, that gesture probably got somebody’s anger up…