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Metallica, Van Halen Talk Smack About Former Band Members

Lately, it seems Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor’s gunning for the title “Smack Talker of the Year,” what with his recent attacks on former protégé Marilyn Manson and Chris Cornell. But he’s not the only rocker capable of delivering low blows.

You see, U.K. magazine Classic Rock recently spoke with Metallica frontman James Hetfield and got him to talk about Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine’s 1983 departure from the band. First off, it’s weird to think of Metallica as classic rock. Secondly, James was rather cool and diplomatic in his response to what was an antagonistic question: Was Hetfield glad about Mustaine’s excommunication?

“It was necessary,” James told the mag. “There would have been myself, Lars [Ulrich] and him all trying to drive and it would have been this triangulated mess. It’s obvious that he had the same drive as us – he went on to do great things in Megadeth. The way things are now, the character dynamics, Lars and I are one half of the scale with Rob [Trujillo on bass] and Kirk [Hammett on guitars] on the other. They’re great idea people but very good at being okay with someone else driving. It does take that, I think. They’re very un-ego-driven and Lars and I are the other way, it seems. So back then, Dave had to go.”

Then, Hetfield goes on to call Mustaine “an amazing, talented person,” but suspects Dave has a “chip on his shoulder,” and is unable “to really be comfortable in the now, and that’s tough to see.”

There’s also some beef emerging between Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and former bassist Michael Anthony. Van Halen told recently that he has yet to hear Anthony’s new band with former VH singer Sammy Hagar, called Chickenfoot. He hasn’t.

“I’m too busy doing my own thing,” Eddie said, adding, “The funny thing is that everyone who quits the band always claims they got fired by me. Hey, I’m not the bad guy here. When Hagar left the band, Mike went with him. Then when we get back together with Dave [Lee Roth], and all of a sudden, he wants back in. It’s like, ‘No, dude, you quit the band.’ So my son became the bass player. But we didn’t give Mike the boot to have my son play.”

Anthony has responded to Van Halen’s claim that he left the band willingly, telling he didn’t quit. “Why would I have quit Van Halen? It never happened,” Anthony defended. “And what’s weird is, he was being asked about Chickenfoot, whether he had heard us or not, and suddenly he launches into this thing about me quitting the group. What does one thing even have to do with the other?”

The bassist continued, saying he never left the band, and that he finds it strange that Eddie would “be trying to paint himself as ‘not the bad guy.’

“Ultimately, all’s well that ends well,” he continues. “I just find it odd that I’m put into a situation where I’m forced to defend myself. Everything is great in my world and I couldn’t be happier with the group I’m in. But I don’t want people to think I quit Van Halen, because I didn’t. It never happened.”

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