Off the Record
SXSW music news and carryings-on
By Austin Powell, Fri., March 20, 2009
Nothing Else Matters
"We're here," James Hetfield announced emphatically yesterday afternoon, posing briefly with Metallica in the ballroom of the Four Seasons. After weeks of speculation, the Bay Area metal institution, mere days away from induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, turned up to promote the release of Guitar Hero: Metallica. Behind closed and guarded doors, bassist Robert Trujillo riffed on the immediate future of the band. "Death Magnetic is a creative launching pad," he enthused. "Rick Rubin has helped us reidentify with that thrash element and fusing that into a progressive element that we're all feeling right now. It's like we're back in the garage or something. Whenever Metallica straps on an instrument, the inspiration starts flying. It's just like being a teenager again. Whatever worries you had during the day are gone and released from your system."
Larger than life, the Four Horsemen of Metallica stormed the stage at Stubb's hours later with all the subtlety of a battering ram, delivering an apocalyptic catharsis of thrash metal that will undoubtedly go down in South by Southwest history. From the opening, electric funeral march of "Creeping Death," the intensely intimate, near 80-minute set was heavy on the hits ("Sad But True," "Master of Puppets," "Blackened") and summoned the clashing of titans. Hetfield commanded the crowd like a general, confident but at ease, occasionally embarking on playful banter, while his inextricable interplay with guitarist Kirk Hammett in "One" was nothing short of cleaving. After a brief intermission, Metallica closed the evening with the hostile rarity "Breadfan" and the Kill 'Em All couplet "Whiplash" and "Seek and Destroy" that left a ring of dust around the mosh pit. "Thanks for having us at your festival," Hetfield concluded. Anytime.
Black Hearted Loves
PJ Harvey & John Parish, who appear at Stubb's tonight, exchanged stories from the city with Jody Denberg at the KGSR studios in North Austin yesterday, prefacing their latest collaboration, A Woman A Man Walked By.
With all the stealth of one of Austin's bats, Neil Young snuck into Austin on Wednesday for a 48-hour stay that probably won't include an appearance at today's world premiere at the Paramount Theatre of his new concert film, Neil Young Trunk Show. Happily, the film's director, Jonathan Demme, who also directed Young's Heart of Gold, will be on hand for the Q&A after the 4:30pm screening. No word if Batman might sneak back for the Neil Young Archives panel at the Convention Center today, 1:30-2:45pm, Room 18ABC.
The Birth and Death of the Day
According to percussive catalyst Christopher Hrasky, the new Explosions in the Sky album could take anywhere from two weeks to two years to complete. "This one might be more of a studio project," he says. "We have some demos where there are like seven guitar parts going on at once, but we've also talked about having the whole record being one piece with different movements." EITS ignite at the free Auditorium Shores Stage tonight, 8pm, a preview of sorts for the local instrumentalists' forthcoming 10-year anniversary tour, but don't expect to hear any new material. "We tend to be pretty critical of what we do," Hrasky concludes. "And we've never been very good with deadlines."
Spoon's Britt Daniel chimes in this afternoon for the SXSW panel Producers on Making Classic Records, Room 18ABC, 3pm, fitting considering his credentials on Anya Marina's debut, Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II, and his recent sessions with fellow panelist Mike McCarthy and producer Jon Brion. "Every producer is different, and what I like about [Brion] is that he's incredibly musical and constantly creative," offers Spoonman Jim Eno, who recently put the finishing touches on the latest from Via Audio. "If we're going down a path and it doesn't work, he doesn't take it personally because he has 10 other ideas."
Don't call it a comeback: Silver Scooter is reuniting for the Slip Productions and Lovitt Records day party at Radio Room, the local indie-pop trio's first official show together since 2001.
Unlike his solo engagement at Austin's Paramount Theatre, Andrew Bird was backed by a threepiece band for his immaculate, hourlong taping for Austin City Limits on Wednesday night, fleshing out the understated elegance of "Fitz and Dizzyspells" and "Oh No" from his recent breakthrough, Noble Beast. ACL's 35th anniversary continues tonight, 8pm, with a Ben Harper & Relentless7 taping. A limited number of tickets are available through registration to: www.klru.org/acl2.