METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich spoke to The Sun about the band's decision to take a long break following the completion of its tour in support of the controversial "St. Anger" album. The LP was released in June 2003 at the end of a turbulent two-year period in which bassist Jason Newsted left the group, frontman James Hetfield went for a lengthy stay in rehab, and the entire band threatened to break apart.
"You can't keep people guessing forever and, if you try to, you look silly so trying to maintain a mystique went out of the door for us a while ago," Lars said.
"For us it's all about inviting people in and making ourselves as accessible as possible to fans. That period certainly wasn't easy for us and, since then, we have learned boundaries and where our breaking points are.
"That was the last time we had a real break — we haven't shut down the band in 14 years, but we disappeared then for about a year.
"And then THE ROLLING STONES called us up [in 2005] and said, 'Come and play some shows with us in California,' and we sort of agreed, you're not going to say no to THE STONES, so that was it. It gave us the way to start it back up again.
"Whether you're a team in an office or a bunch of dudes in a rock and roll band, at some point people have to figure out how to get along and work as a team. If you don't care, it's easier to walk away, but fortunately we cared enough about METALLICA on behalf of ourselves and the fans to figure out a way to make it function. I'm happy that we did."
"St. Anger"'s raw, lo-fi production, lack of guitar solos and unorthodox sound were not well-received by many of the group's fans, who still often cite it as METALLICA's worst record. "St. Anger" has nevertheless sold more than six million copies worldwide, although fans have generally not warmed up to it in the 16 years since its release.
METALLICA is continuing to tour in support of its latest album, "Hardwired… To Self-Destruct", which came out in November 2016.
The"WorldWired" trek has played more than 130 shows across the world since its 2016 kick-off and could last through early 2020.