Robert Trujillo spoke to the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast about his 2003 audition to replace METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted, as captured in the 2004 band documentary “Some Kind Of Monster”. He said (hear audio below): “It was a very surreal day for me. But when you get a gig like that, it’s so… strange. Really, strange is the word. Because I remember going up there. I was late. I was always late back then.”
He continued: “I’ll tell you a quick story about the audition. Basically, it was a two-day audition. The first day of the audition, I was kind of just there to be a fly on the wall. [Producer] Bob Rock‘s there. The bass [for METALLICA‘s ‘St. Anger’ album] had already been recorded; Bob Rock recorded the bass. So I’m just hanging around. And Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] and James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] and Kirk [Hammett, METALLICA guitarist] kind of live in this bubble. They were just, like, ‘Yeah, make yourself at home. Just hang out.’ And I was just kind of hanging out in this big complex up north [in the Bay Area]. And I’m kind of lost, because no one’s really completely communicating with me, and I’m just there. And, okay. So [they tell me], ‘Come on in the control room,’ and I’m just there. They’re cutting tracks. And that’s it; hanging around. Eleven o’clock rolls around at night, and Lars… We’re in the parking lot. We’re the last ones leaving. And Lars says, ‘Hey, man, let’s go get a drink. Let’s go get a nightcap.’ So I’m, like, ‘All right.’ And we go to the first bar, have a couple of cocktails, we go to the second bar, have a few more, go to the third bar. Then we end up at his house for more cocktails. By this time, it’s five in the morning. I can’t even drive to where I’m staying; it’s impossible. And he even says, ‘Here, crash out in my guest room.’ So, at nine in the morning, four hours later, he’s on the treadmill, this guy, and it’s like he doesn’t know me anymore. He’s already sobered up. And he’s on the treadmill. And I’ve got this crazy headache. And then he’s, like, ‘All right. Let’s go. Let’s go to the studio.’ And I’m driving behind him. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I get to the studio.
He went on to say: “This is when [the members of METALLICA] were going through this sort of therapy thing, [with] this guy Phil Towle, who was… what do they call it? Kind of a life coach, kind of a motivator, which was, at the time, I guess, good for the band, but I wasn’t used to that. Here I am with a pounding headache. James has just gone through this whole thing where, of course, he’s sober, and the last person he wants to see anywhere near his band is a drunk Mexican. That would be me. So I’m sitting at the table, and I’ve got the worst headache, [I’m] completely hung over. And I’m thinking, ‘Lars did this to me, ’cause he was checking me out, to see if I could hang with him.’ It was [a test]; it had to have been. He’s a Viking, really. I’d go into the bathroom. I was throwing water on my face, slapping it, going, ‘Oh, man, you’ve gotta… Hang in there. Hang in there.’ ‘Cause I really wanted to say, ‘I can’t do this right now, guys. I don’t feel good. I really can’t do this.'”
Trujillo added: “I stuck it out. I knew the tech, the bass tech, from back when SUICIDIAL TENDENCIES was touring with METALLICA, which would have been in 1993 on the ‘Black Album.’ So, Zach Harmon, who is now still my bass tech. I didn’t have a bass, so [I went], ‘Let’s go grab a bass. Let’s choose the amp setup.’ So I kind of used that as my way to get out of this hangover situation.”
Despite the fact that he was in no shape to perform to his usual standards, the audition went remarkably well. “We played ‘Battery’, and I think it helped me not be nervous,” he recalled. “And that’s what you see in the film, and everybody seems to think it was pretty slamming. But other than that, I was brain dead. If I could play, I was fine. But in communicating with Hetfield, ’cause he would come over to me and ask me questions, and I would come up with really stupid answers, because, literally, I was not all there.”
He added: “When I watch ‘Some Kind Of Monster’, I see myself wearing this brown Armani t-shirt, which I would never own in my life. You know why? ‘Cause it’s not mine. It’s Lars‘s. His wife at the time, Skylar, gave me that shirt, because the one I’d been wearing, which was probably pretty funky, was not happening.”
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