One of the first tracks to be released off Metallica’s 10th studio album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct was Moth Into Flame. A track that helped push them back into the limelight after 8 years of telling fans they were “in the studio”, the thrash metal legends really put their best foot forward and fans were thrilled at their resurrection after a couple of albums that didn’t turn out as planned (hide your Death Magnetic album).
When you go into the lyrics of Moth Into Flame, it appears to be something about young stars who are attracted to the fame and limelight and who find themselves in a “downward spiral” – the underside of fame. When asked about a possible inspiration behind the lyrics, without the obvious umpteen starlets in Hollywood and social media today, frontman James Hetfield gave a clear name: Amy Winehouse.
It seems the deep documentary about the troubled star called Amy was watched by the band. Amy Winehouse was a trailblazer in her genre, singing the blues with lyrics that mirrored her disturbed mind. She joined the infamous ’27 Club’ when she died unexpectedly of alcohol poisoning. Her personal life was also peppered with several addictions, including substance abuse and abusive relationships.
Frontman of Metallica, James Hetfield said: “Just watching that movie was extremely saddening – how her life went from a lively joyous person, to someone who was trying to escape the reality of where she was.
It really hit me in the one part of the movie where she was lost in her mind, it seemed, and she was just leaving her flat in England.
The press were just hanging out in front of her place all the time, snapping these pictures of her. ‘Hey Amy, how’s it going?’ Talking to her like they know her.
They just don’t notice – they wouldn’t say, ‘You look skinny, you look unhealthy.’ There was a total misconnection there with reality.
The fame part, and how that can really be a drug for some people. it certainly has been in our career. Growing up with it, how do you deal with fame? How does it affect you? At what point do you realise this might not be as healthy as I think it is for me?
Hetfield has had his own battles with addiction, particularly being an alcoholic and struggling with anger issues. So he knows what he’s talking about. But unlike Amy, James has his family to thank for keeping it together and getting him on the right track. “I’ve got a wife that kicks my ass, first of all. Kids that tell it like it is – ‘Dad, you’re being a jerk’. I love that.”
Also, his fellow bandmates – Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo. “The guys in the band, too. We all keep each other in check. Like, ‘Dude, is that limo a little too long?’ Just goofy things like that. We try and keep each other real. Not surrounding ourselves with yes-men, too, which can really just distort your reality.”