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New Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo talks about joining the legendary band Metallica


After 20 months, Robert Trujillo has still not celebrated landing his new job. Not that he hasn't wanted to, he's just been a little busy learning two decades worth of music.

"It's been intense. You know people say 'You must have been doing back flips. Aren't you excited?' Well.. yeah! But I have to be focused (on the music) first. I have just been in a different head space," Trujillo said.

In early 2003, the bassist, who has spent his career playing with notable metal acts such as Ozzy Osbourne, Zakk Wylde and Suicidal Tendencies, joined what some fans consider to be one of THE metal acts of all-time: Metallica.

The mega-platinum, Grammy winning group is scheduled to play shows on the "Madly In Anger" tour on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 19 and 20 at the Wachovia Center, Philadelphia.

Trujillo, who said he immediately felt comfortable in the band's line up next to front man James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich, noted that his new gig has been a challenge for him both mentally and physically.

"No disrespect intended, but not a lot of people could do this job. The workload and the physical demands are incredible at times...A lot of guys can play Metallica songs, but I think the band was looking for someone whose personality fit too," Trujillo said.

The native Southern Californian replaced Jason Newstead, who acrimoniously split from the group in January of 2001. Since then, Trujillo mastered a bootcamp of bass lines, beats and back-up vocals to prepare him for his slot in the band.

Metallica toured extensively in 2003 after releasing the album St.Anger, and it continues to play live shows to support additional ventures such as Some Kind of Monster, a live album whose title track shares the same name as the documentary film that chronicled the period after Newstead's departure and the band's inner struggles with each other and their own personal demons.

"They are stronger now because of it," Trujillo said. "They made it through that time and can go forward... I am excited to be a part of it."

Trujillo said some fans still aren't shy about letting him know that they still remember Newstead's contributions and that producer Bob Rock, not Trujillo, played the bass tracks on St.Anger.

"Most people appreciate and are excited about the band moving forward... I take some shots about not having played on the album, but you know, Metallica fans are intense. They say what's on their minds. All I can do is hit it hard and not try to be Jason or Cliff (Burton, the band's former bassist who died in a 1986 bus crash), but just be myself."

Trujillo and his bandmates have begun recording while on the current tour in preparation for the group's next album, which he said they hope to begin studio work on in late February or March 2005.

That's on the heels of a year which has seen Metallica release the documentary, the live disc, a hardcover anthology ("So What") and later this month, through its website, a limited edition vinyl box set.

Some critics and long time fans have pointed at those commercial ventures as evidence that the seminal band has "sold out." Trujillo said he sees it differently.

"I think those things are ways the band challenged themselves... That's the sign of a great band. That's the way I take it.. There's no doubt it seems like a big machine sometimes, but come the end of November (the tour's end) the machine will shut down for awhile."

Not forever, though.

In late September, the group appeared on "The Jane Pauley Show," a day time talk show whose mainstream, female-dominated audience one might not readily associate with Metallica. Trujillo said that appearance had to do with the band's new outlook, rather than it selling itself or its music.

"We're not out there trying to rock out. It was an important step in therapy for Lars, James and Kirk."

Trujillo said that those steps are essential in allowing Metallica to continue to be what he called "a signature band."

"(With all of the struggles) this could easily have not been a band anymore... They're back," Trujillo said, then paused.

"We're back."





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