Giving It Up for Metallica
With the second annual All Within My Hands Day of Service just around the corner on May 22nd, James Hetfield and Rob Trujillo explain to Steffan Chirazi why it is one of the most important days on the Metallica calendar.
When Metallica officially founded All Within My Hands in February of 2017, it marked a public “coming out” of sorts. For decades the band had supported charities tied into a range of needs and concerns, eschewing attention or recognition (as an example, a portion of every Metallica ticket bought has gone directly to the relevant local charity of choice long before AWMH came to be). But it became apparent that there was an enormous family out there who, if asked, would rise to the rally call and lend themselves to causes such as helping with food banks. “What’s in a name?” is a question often asked. In Metallica’s case, plenty, as last years’ enormously successful Day of Service, where band and fans across North America united to volunteer and give back, proved.
“Giving back is very important; in the past 16 years I’ve been with the band, I’ve never seen anything like it,” says Rob Trujillo. “We have always given a little piece in every city, donating to food banks and just giving back. Now we can wave the banner for our AWMH foundation and really encourage people to do volunteer work because it is a wonderful thing. It makes you feel better about yourself and, of course, it helps other people.”
James Hetfield exudes enthusiasm as he echoes Trujillo’s sentiments.
“Metallica has a huge family, an army of love out there that wants to help do that too. It’s an unbelievable feeling to think that you’re inspiring others to do it, and from there, they’re inspiring even more [people] to do it. So, loving it! If we can use our name or branding or whatever to help do that, we’re super glad to do that.”
This year’s Day of Service will see double the number of participating food banks and volunteers as the AWMH/Feeding America partnership enjoys the influx of Metallica Family volunteers. James stresses the importance of seeking out where help is best offered.
“From soup kitchens to the Goodwill store to food banks to homeless shelters… something that helps the community,” he says earnestly. “I’ve found the Salvation Army, which [in my hometown] has freezers full of elk meat I’ve donated. [Find places that] box up food for people who do need it. No matter what city you’re in, there is ‘need.’”
As with last year, the band will be appearing at a location of their choice to muck in and get a sweat on.
“Last year, my LA Food Bank [volunteering] experience was special,” says Rob. “I’d volunteered at food banks before in San Francisco, but this was different. It was pretty massive, and neat to see the structure of how all this works. You get in the belly of the machine and [see] what folks are trying to do to get people [fed]. People donate their time and energy, you go through the apples, eat a few – only the bad ones – save the good ones for everybody else [he says in jest - ED]! And when I was there, there were also some people from USC. The following day there were people from UCLA and community colleges, just a lot of people [from all over] volunteering, and hopefully on the 22nd our fans will step up, volunteer, and show their support for what we’re trying to do and what’s important.”
AWMH works in partnership with Feeding America on issues of hunger, but it also looks to help a forgotten area of need, workplace training. James is passionate about the subject.
“[It’s about] changing the stigma around going to college, going to work, what is your career, how does it define you, what is your status in life,” he explains sharply. “Instead of you becoming ‘the fourth doctor in your family,’ you find something else that suits your path in life. Not everyone is an Ivy Leaguer, not everyone wants to go the boarding school that is a rite of family passage, and they have to go. There’s a lot of people who don’t want that, they wanna carve their own path; it’s their life. You chose what you wanna do. Having options is important. For me, it’s important that every job is respected, that it’s okay if you’re not Dr. Blah Blah, you’re a welder who helped build this building. [It’s important] that [too] is respected! The fact that you’re working, trying to work, trying to find the path that works best for you – that should be the ultimate goal and most respected thing. So, putting the options out there for people: trade schools, community colleges, even [helping provide] gas money to get to and from school – there are many things you can help with.”
Indeed, the scope of AWMH stretches even deeper into the general community. 2017 saw the band partner with Starbucks on a Metallica/Starbucks gift card, with proceeds going to The Mission Continues, a non-profit organization which helps veterans re-adjust to life at home (“I got a lot of great feedback around that,” says James).
“We did some stuff for the First Responders too,” furthers James. “The police, the fire department, ski patrol, ambulance, EMTs and hospitals. For me, a lot of those jobs don’t get the money they should,” he continues, his voice tinged with frustration. “First responders for sure, policemen, firemen… teachers! Another job [where] I’m blown away that they’re not as respected, or rewarded through pay, for what they do, because these are very important jobs.”
It’s important to note that there’s always room for more (you!) to join in, and equally, it can be beyond the Day of Service too. Any hours you can spare can be enormously helpful to a lot of people in need.
“Much gratitude and thanks to all the fans who feel that they belong in this Family and trust what our adventures are, and they go out and do this Day of Service,” says James warmly. “The fact that there’s twice as many people this year as last year doing the AWMH Day of Service means it’s working and we’re super-proud of that fact. And if you like doing it, do it for more than one day! If you wanna find out where [to help] in your area, go to AllWithinMyHands.org and there are locations we have in place for giving, so you can show up and be open to whatever they hand you. Here’s a shovel, here’s a box, fill it… whatever you’re needed for, be prepared and have fun.”
You heard the man, now come out and join the Metallica Family.