During a recent interview with UG’s David Slavković, Raven frontman talked about Metallica opening for his band back in 1983 and 1984.
The trek marked Metallica’s first-ever tour. You can check out the conversation below.
In 1983, you went on your first big tour and Metallica went with you. What were they like back then and what was it like touring with them?
“That was our first US tour. We got the offer to do a tour in America. And [Megaforce Records founder] Jonny Z said, ‘I’ve got this great opening band for you, the biggest band in San Francisco.’ And we’re like, ‘What?! Y&T are opening for us?’ ‘No, not Y&T. Metallica.’ Like, ‘Who?’
“And then we heard the music and it sounded like Motorhead played at the wrong speed. Like, ‘Alright, this sounds good. Let’s take these guys.’ So we did. That was their first tour – opening for us in America.’ And it was chaotic and crazy and a lot of fun.”
What were James, Kirk, and Lars back then compared to now? You played with them in 2014 in Sao Paulo. How can you compare those three guys back in ’83 and now?
“The surprising thing was that they haven’t changed that much, considering the life experience they’ve been through and how much older they are.
“Obviously, James is a man now, and before he was a little kid basically with a can of beer in his hand laughing all the time. That’s all he ever did, he would just giggle and drink beer.
“Lars hasn’t changed one bit. He’s still the shyster, he’s still the man with the eye on the prize. He’s always working an angle. He hasn’t changed at all.
“And Kirk’s the same happy-go-lucky guy he was when he was a young kid.
“And, of course, back then, the older influence – even though he wasn’t that mature – was Cliff [Burton]. It was like an old soul on young shoulders. So it was great. Me and Cliff would sit and discuss music and play riffs at each other with basses and, ‘What about this, what about this…’ He was very cool.”
Those were pretty wild times, the early ’80s. Are there any crazy stories from your time touring with Metallica?
“We did play some very crazy places. We played down in the south, places where we’ve never actually played ever again. Like in Arkansas.
“We woke up, apparently on a field, and we looked over the edge of the field and it was a natural bowl with the stage at the bottom with totem poles on it, and insects the size of the small helicopters floating around. And we played there to a crowd of about 3,000 people. It was just like playing on another planet. It was very weird.
“And then we played a 10,000-seat arena in Little Rock, Arkansas, where the guy said, ‘Hey, I just heard you guys sold out Madison Square Garden.’ And we’re looking at him like, ‘Oh, boy, are you in for a surprise.’ Because, of course, we hadn’t.
“We were there with equipment to play 300-seat clubs in a 10,000 seat arena with 200 people in attendance. It was embarrassing, to say the least. That was strange.
“The best one was in Oklahoma. Have you seen the  movie ‘The Blues Brothers’?”
Yeah, but it was a long time ago. You’ll have to remind me a bit.
“The part where they come on, they steal the gig from the country band, they’re playing the Bob’s Country Bunker. And there’s chicken wire and the people are throwing stuff at them.
“Well, we played a place just like that, but there wasn’t any chicken wire. They were just throwing stuff at us. They threw it at us because they were rowdy and drunk.
“They were throwing stuff at Metallica all the way through the set. Metallica just kind of turned their back on the crowd and got through with it as quickly as they could.
“But we were used to playing rowdy places in England. So we got on stage and started throwing stuff back at them and kicking their beer over and… It was very strange. [Laughs]”