When news broke earlier this week that Metallica would be dropping off the Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life festivals as a result of James Hetfield’s ongoing addiction recovery efforts, most of the band’s fans were quite supportive, wishing Papa Het the very best in his efforts to get (and stay) well.
But those who bought tickets to the festivals — which would’ve seen Metallica close down both Friday and Sunday nights with two different sets — were also bummed, and not only that, but confused: why would the band cancel these two festivals while leaving other shows untouched, some of which are before Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life? In Hetfield’s heartfelt letter to fans he offered only that he had “critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved.”
Now we have a more specific answer, and it comes from Gary Spivack, Executive VP of Danny Wimmer Presents, the company which puts on those two festivals as well as Epicenter, Welcome to Rockville and Aftershock, the later three of which Metallica will still play.
Ultimate Guitar reached out to Spivack for a chat to talk all things festival-related, including how lineups are assembled, how they came to find Tool and Red Hot Chili Peppers to replace Metallica at the last minute and, to the point, Metallica’s cancelation:
“Well, we got the call from Metallica’s management team, Q Prime, who are, the best managers in the business, hands down, and said that James has Sobriety Weekends that are requirement weekend that are throughout the calendar year, and unfortunately, a couple of those weekends fell on our festivals. Although Metallica will still be at Welcome to Rockville, Epicenter, and Aftershock in 2020 with us, we did lose them for Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life.
“So, then it was, how do you even contemplate filling the shoes of the biggest band in our world? Well, you do it by finding two of the biggest bands in our world. So, we got Red Hot Chili Peppers, with John Frusciante, which will be one of only four shows they’ll be doing in 2020, and of course, Grammy award-winning artist, Tool.
When asked what he’d say to Metallica fans who are upset about the cancelations, he replied:
“Go to Metallica’s website and read James’ statement. It’s heartfelt, it’s raw, it’s from the heart, and I don’t know how you can hate on that. It’s impossible for us. A guy focusing on his well-being and wanting to get better, that’s everything.”
To close out the interview, Spivack added one last plea:
“… first and foremost, we’re fans and we ask for everybody who’s disappointed with Metallica, to understand it, to respect it, and be with us. Come to our festivals. It’s never about one band. It’s a whole rock and roll experience and we hope to see everybody out there in May.”
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