Metallica Teaches a New Masterclass on How to Build & Sustain a Band

Since its launch in 2015, Mas­ter­class has not only expand­ed the vari­ety of its online course offer­ings but sought out ever-big­ger names for its teach­ers. Names don’t come much big­ger than Metal­li­ca in the world of heavy met­al, and indeed in the world of rock music in gen­er­al. Hence the broad title of the new Mas­ter­class “Metal­li­ca Teach­es Being a Band.” Hav­ing been a band for 40 years now, they pre­sum­ably know more than a lit­tle about every­thing involved in that enter­prise: not just record­ing hit albums like Mas­ter of Pup­pets and songs like “Enter Sand­man,” but also weath­er­ing dra­mat­ic changes in both the music busi­ness and pop­u­lar cul­ture while coop­er­at­ing for the good of the group.

Not that, to the men of Metal­li­ca, such coop­er­a­tion has always come nat­u­ral­ly. “There’ve been times when it’s been frac­tured and it looks like we were on the verge of break­ing up,” says gui­tarist Kirk Ham­mett in the trail­er for their Mas­ter­class above.

He joined the band in 1983, which means he has very near­ly as long a stand­ing in the band as its founders, lead vocalist/rhythm gui­tarist James Het­field and drum­mer Lars Ulrich. All of them, along with bassist Robert Tru­jil­lo, appear here as teach­ers to share their accu­mu­lat­ed wis­dom, have to do as it may with song­writ­ing, per­for­mance, inter­per­son­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, or the man­age­ment of time and anger.

Like all Mas­ter­class­es, Metal­li­ca’s course is divid­ed into many eas­i­ly watch­able video lessons, most with a prac­ti­cal slant. Musi­cal­ly inclined view­ers, even those with no inter­est in becom­ing heavy-met­al icons, will ben­e­fit from learn­ing to work “From Riff to Song,” the prin­ci­ples of “Putting Togeth­er an Album,” and the art of “Nav­i­gat­ing Egos.” But for Metal­li­ca fans in par­tic­u­lar — whom, col­lec­tive­ly, the band con­sid­er their fifth mem­ber — few lessons in any Mas­ter­class could be as grip­ping as the decon­struc­tions of “Enter Sand­man,” “Mas­ter of Pup­pets,” and “One.” They do all this in a calmer, more reflec­tive psy­cho­log­i­cal place than the bit­ter, near-dys­func­tion­al one in which the 2004 doc­u­men­tary Metal­li­ca: Some Kind of Mon­ster found them — but not so calm and reflec­tive that they can’t fin­ish the course off with, as Ham­mett puts it, “a bad-ass per­for­mance.”

When you sign up to become a Mas­ter­class mem­ber ($180 per year), you will have access to Metal­li­ca’s course plus 100 oth­ers.

Note: If you sign up for a Mas­ter­Class course by click­ing on the affil­i­ate links in this post, Open Cul­ture will receive a small fee that helps sup­port our oper­a­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Metal­li­ca Play “Enter Sand­man” Before a Crowd of 1.6 Mil­lion in Moscow, Dur­ing the Final Days of the Sovi­et Union (1991)

Metal­li­ca Plays Antarc­ti­ca, Set­ting a World Record as the First Band to Play All 7 Con­ti­nents: Watch the Full Con­cert Online

Metal­li­ca Is Putting Free Con­certs Online: 6 Now Stream­ing, with More to Come

Who Invent­ed Heavy Met­al Music?: A Search for Ori­gins

Car­los San­tana & Tom Morel­lo Launch Online Cours­es on How to Play the Gui­tar

Her­bie Han­cock to Teach His First Online Course on Jazz

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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