Know it or not, believe it or not, like it or not - Metallica is part of mainstream America.
If you just asked yourself "Who?" read on. If you didn't ask, then you will likely read anyway because to know them is to love them or hate them but not to ignore them. Monday evening they will celebrate Labor Day in Utah at Stewart Stadium in Ogden.If you don't like their loud, crunching music with lightning-fast guitar licks and jack-hammer drums, chances are your kids do or the neighbors' kids do or your auto mechanic does. In case you haven't been paying attention, this supergroup has jumped into the face of pop-culture and put it into a headlock of sorts.
In 1992 they won a Grammy award. Lately they inspired Pat Boone into a remake of their "Enter Sandman" and provided the metal classics needed for the brilliant "Apocalyptica Plays Metallica By Four Cellos."
Not only is the once-obscure, heavy-rock foursome selling millions of albums and concert tickets as they tour the world in support of their seventh album (sixth album, part two) "Re-Load," they are individually doing perfectly mainstream things like getting married and raising children.
For the uneducated, these "thrash" pioneers spawned militantly loyal followers and plenty of heavy-metal clone bands in the '80s and literally changed the face of rock music, all without radio air play or MTV video rotation. Along the way they gained a reputation as a live show not to be missed. And that was simply their warm-up act.
With a couple of years left in the decade the foursome has sold over 22 million albums in the '90s.
For those counting at home, the only artists to surpass such numbers for the same time period are the Beatles, Mariah Carey and Garth Brooks.
The Metallica "family" increased by one on Aug. 5 when drummer Lars Ulrich and his wife, Skylar, brought their 7 pound, 8 ounce son into the world. Vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield became a father earlier this year while bassist Jason Newsted is currently single.
"It really isn't different except now there is a baby room backstage," said lead guitarist Kirk Hammett from his car phone while on the way to a Sacramento concert. "And James is always telling me what baby (poo) looks like."
The older fans - those loyalists left from the '80s - might say a lot is different. They might say that the band's latest two discs, "Load" and "Re-Load," recorded together in '95-97, are a departure from the speed, anger and defiance of the band's earlier works.
Hammett doesn't care.
"Despite what the record company or our family or our friends or even what our fans might tell us, we stick to our guns and do what we want to do."
"I am thrilled as hell to be doing this after 14 or 15 years and to be doing it on this level. It is still a thrill to hear a song on the radio or see a blurb on a magazine, but the biggest thrill is walking on stage.
"You endure everything, tolerate everything for that moment when the intro tape rolls and you walk on stage and play your heart out."
The tour-happy band has made its rounds in Salt Lake City before, and despite all of the traveling, Hammett remembers Utah for various reasons.
"We have quite a few memories of Salt Lake City. It has always been a fun place for us to play because the audiences have been very, very, very, very enthusiastic."
The band also recorded the "King Nothing" video near Midway during the "Load" tour.
"We froze," Hammett said. "We needed a lot of snow, and Park City had 15 feet of it so it worked out."
He also remembers the Beehive State for another of its natural resources.
"I am married now (for eight months), but Salt Lake is legendary for beautiful girls. You don't know that because you are Salt Lake, but it is right up there in terms of beautiful girls."
After the Ogden show only four dates remain on the concert calendar before a long-anticipated break.
"The end of the tour is in the middle of September (the 13th), and literally we have a day to set down the bags, pet the cat or whatever and the next day we go into the studio to do a covers album."
The new disc will be a re-release of the now out-of-print "Garage Days Re-revisited" album complete with all the b-side cover tunes the band has recorded over the years and "seven or eight new cover tunes."
"I am really looking forward to that," he said. "It will be a great time doing those songs and `Metallicaizing' them."
Readers beware: Lots of listeners are getting Metallicaized, too.
Jerry Cantrell - of Alice In Chains - and Days of the New will open the show for Metallica.