An Interview with
Guitarist of Early 'Metallica' Fame
(The Original Version of 'Hit The Lights' on the
'Metal Massacre' Compilation Album)
that took place on Wednesday 24th April, 2019.
Interviewed by Glenn Milligan.
Glenn: Hi Lloyd, it's Glenn, how are you doing?
Lloyd: I'm doing good. How about yourself?
Glenn: Excellent mate. This is crazy. I had Jonesy's Jukebox on and he was playing bands that were made up of one name. Guess which song he play in the last 20 minutes?
Lloyd: Oh. I don't know. (Laughs)
Glenn: Hit The Lights.
Lloyd: Oh! (in surprise)
Glenn: Crazy. Totally.
Lloyd: Yeah! That's pretty cool. He'd never really played Metallica much but he did tonight. That's spooky mate. That's very spooky. But there you go. Funny stuff.
Glenn: Talking about Metallica, I know you've talked about it a million times but how did it all come to be originally playing on 'Hit The Lights' with the guy?
Lloyd: I and Lars (Ulrich) played for a while. I met Lars through a magazine they have down here called 'Recycler Magazine'. He'd put an advert in for a guitarist. He named some of the bands that he liked. I called him and we got together and started jamming. Then after a while I had got busy. Then he hooked up with James Hetfield. He had a song called 'Hit The Lights'. I really liked that song at the time back in the 80's. It was exactly what we wanted to do.
They asked me to come and play on it because I wasn't playing with them at the time. In fact, Lars loaned me the recorder – a four-track tape recorder. I had it for a while and I listened to it. Then they wanted it back and came and got it. Then James and Lars came over to my apartment and we recorded it at my apartment. We recorded the solo.
Lloyd: They probably could tell you that too. (We laugh)
Glenn: When you first heard that your version was going to go on the 'Metal Massacre' album, how did that make you feel? Also when you heard it on there?
Lloyd: Well they'd already told me about that. They said, “Hey, we're gonna put this on a compilation album. We need to record a solo on there.” That's how that came about because they had already recorded on the four-track tape. They brought it to me because they thought it was faster that way. I put the solo down on the song. I knew it was going to be on the compilation album before. I didn't know it was going to be that large in hindsight.
Glenn: Over here that album is regarded as one of the most famous compilation albums of all time for that exact reason – 'Hit The Lights' itself. It's what makes that so special.
Lloyd: Yeah. Some of the other bands that were on there were pretty big too in the early 80's. They had a few local bands that were on there. Well most of the bands were local bands in L.A. And Hollywood.
Glenn: Sweet. After you had done that, did you manage to get a lot of credibility and joined other bands because you had played on that or was it just a case of go back to your normal job and carry on as Lloyd Grant, the guitarist and the day to day guy?
Lloyd: (Laughs) Yeah, I just carried on as I was. Maybe half a year later, we heard that the song is on the compilation album I heard. It was doing well. Metallica was touring at the time and so forth. I told my friends about it, to go and buy it and hear me on the album. I was saying, “Hey, you know I'm on the record”. Then I thought, 'So what? What am I supposed to do now?'. But as far as getting in other bands, it didn't change that much at all because there wasn't a lot of bands that wanted to do stuff that we wanted to do. At that time, the only band that was doing Speed/Thrash Metal like that up-front in Los Angeles was those guys.
Glenn: So it was back to the day-to-day reality sort of thing?
Lloyd: Yeah because the bands down here at the time were dressing up with make-up and lipstick – more glam at the time. They were like hiding behind that masks and the music comes when it comes. It wasn't the first thing that they do. It was more important what they looked like than the music. If you know what I mean?
Glenn: Yeah. (We laugh) Yeah a lot looked or sounded the same – the same riffs. Many from that time came from that Juillard School of Music and all taught by the same person or big name. You thought, 'Hang on. I've already heard this band'. It was like how the Grunge thing became. The post-grunge thing and everything else. Everything has it's time and you had to play a certain way to signed – it's all bullsh*t really! It's a brand and a way of making the corporate pigs loads of money.
Lloyd: Yeah. You have to look at it way back when in the 80's – to get signed and finally someone came out and started something else like the grunge and Kurt Cobain. Then the whole scene seemed to die down. That's how it all went down in history.
Glenn: After your time with the Metallica, you had a couple of other bands didn't you?
Lloyd: I was in a band call Def Con. We got a bunch of contracts but we never singed them. In hindsight, I should have signed a couple of them because the guy was from Roadrunner. I think he was from Germany. At the time he came over to sign us and we didn't sign. We talked to him – now Roadrunner is a big label.
Glenn: They are. Very much so. A massive label.
Glenn: You never know in hindsight what is going to happen do you?
Lloyd: No, no.
Glenn: It's all crazy stuff.
Lloyd: When you look at it.. all the bands that we were in before... I see now. When Metallica was playing the bars up and around here or we'd see Slayer. They were doing Robin Trower and stuff like that. A bunch of older songs. They became big a little later. They became huge. In hindsight, I should have signed with the other record company that was interested in signing us – my local band at the time. But I didn't and it's too late to talk about it. (We laugh)
Glenn: Yeah. There's no point doing that. You could have a thousand 'What if...' questions but what is the point? (We laugh) Such as what if so-and-so left the band and you could have joined Metallica? You can't talk like that. That's just silly.
Glenn: We met at NAMM in January and you mentioned that you had some new music. How is that going?
Lloyd: My music is coming along. I need to record a couple of other people that play in a band. It's coming along.
Glenn: Yeah! Excellent. Is it a similar sort of style – a Thrash Metal style or is it something totally different? What songs can you talk about that you've done so far and how have they come to be?
Lloyd: The music I am doing is a mixture of Thrash Metal and Rock 'N' Roll. It's not all the same – all fast, speed stuff. Some of them are and some of them are a little bit slower – more melodic.
Glenn: Are there any song titles in mind at all?
Lloyd: Yeah! We have an styled songs. It's a Rock 'n' Roll song – it's called 'Mirror' - 'We're looking at the mirror'. Sometimes you see yourself. Sometimes you don't see yourself – you see somebody else'. You know what I am talking about?
Lloyd: You meet someone sometimes and you are meeting several different people. They are trying to be a person that they would like to be. The person that they want you to think they are. You have all these personalities. It's kind of like that with the song. You have to find out the real personality of the person. It's like having a girlfriend at first. You don't know what she is. Then she has all these different personalities when she is with you or when she's with her friends. It's finding the personality that she is – what she is really like. Her personality can get to me then. That's what the song is about.
Glenn: It makes a lot of sense. We have a thing we say in the UK. We say, “Set your stall out from the start”. It means be yourself from the word 'Go' because sooner or later down the line, people will find out what you're really about.
Lloyd: (Laughs) That's right. That's right and they may not like it.
Glenn: Exactly. But that's humans for you. You meet so many people yourself and you think at first they are a really cool person – then they start letting you down or you find half of what they tell you is lies. You think, 'I can't deal with this sort of crap any more'.
Lloyd: Yep. I just have to question people over here because it can get pretty bad.
Glenn: Anyway, I was watching YouTube today and saw the footage of you guys (as in on stage with Metallica). It also featured Ron McGovney (of Leather Charm – he formed in 1981 with James Hetfield) and Dave Mustaine (of Megadeth) which was shot at San Francisco from 2011. How did that come to be? Did they just give you a call and invite you to play on stage with them?
Lloyd: Yes. That's exactly what happened. Lars gave me a call and invited me down to come and play. Yeah! I said, “Absolutely”. This is what I wanted to do. Come and play with Metallica. It was great. It was sweet man! In fact, he invited quite a lot of people. A bunch of British guys like Diamond Head. Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler were there when I was there. Dave Mustaine was there. It was a week they were doing that – a whole week. So there were a lot of people - a lot of bands coming and jamming. It was the 30th Anniversary and it was huge for me.
One thing I'm going to do is the 40th Anniversary and that's coming up pretty soon.
Glenn: That'll be interesting.
Lloyd: They've been playing for 40 years. Wow.
Lloyd: It's a lifetime.
Glenn: it is yeah and I'm 45. They've been playing since I was 5.
Lloyd: Oh wow. Oh jeez.
Glenn: Yeah. But music is music. It doesn't matter how old you are or how old the music is. If it's great it's great. That's what matters. So how was your time at NAMM? How did you enjoy being at NAMM?
Lloyd: I always love NAMM. You get to see a lot of bands. This year I didn't get to see a lot of bands but I saw a few. I was kind of busy and I didn't have much time. I get there late and that was my problem. I got there too late in the day. I am going to get there earlier next year. Right as it opens so I can do more business there.
Glenn: It's where we met. I was with Raquel (Figlo of Raquel Figlor PR) and we were all chatting away at that bar. Raquel is a good buddy. Do you have any endorsements at all?
Lloyd: I would like to have but I haven't got any. I think they want you to have a record out and they want you to be touring. That's what I heard. Whoever endorses me, I'll take it. Most of them give you a reduced price for equipment. You do have to have someone to speak for you and promote you. So they know who you are. I am looking for an endorsement to get my head out of the water. When you move over a little bit further and become a little bit more popular, you may not need it then and that's when they want to give it to you. I think I need to have it now.
Glenn: Do you have release plans for the music you've got together?
Lloyd: It's going to be in about six months before I can see my way clearly but I have a lot of songs. The problem is deciding what type of stuff I want to put out and be represented by. Some of the songs don't match or don't fit. I have about 36 to 40 songs. I could right now go and record all of these songs for a CD but I'm giving it some thought first before I do it. It's like when you are doing interviews and you wish you had said something or you wish you could have done better. I don't want to put it out and have a bad feeling about it.
Glenn: You've got three or four albums or maybe two strong albums you could put together. You are a good guitarist but do you sing as well or do you have a separate singer to do your stuff?
Lloyd: I'm singing.
Glenn: Do you have any forthcoming plans you'd like to talk about that we haven't discussed?
Lloyd: Some of my forthcoming plans I can't talk about right now. Basically, I'm doing this solo album – rain or shine – it's going to be done. I want to meet some people all over the the UK or down south in Australia or New Zealand or Japan so I can do a little touring outside of the United States.
Glenn: You have a big legacy too. The guy who played a solo for Metallica – you've got that to your name. I think there would be a lot of interest in you in the UK alone.
Lloyd: It's crazy when you think about it – how large something becomes.
Glenn: Yeah, it's surreal isn't it. Do you think that new material going to attract a variety of different people due to the various styles of it?
Lloyd: Yeah. That is what it's going to do. It's going to attract a whole different crowd. But I still want to piggyback on the Metallica name. You can't lose that because of my name and what I did. I don't want to be a problem to Metallica. Every time I go out they say something, people think I am going to go out and talk about Metallica. I'd rather not but that's my history and the way things are. You record with them, they become big and popular – they are the number 1 Heavy Metal band around. You don't want some guy like Lloyd Grant to be taking that away from you. (We laugh)
Glenn: The thing about it is that you aren't taking it away from them because you were there from the start, so to speak.
Glenn: So in that respect, it's not like you are one of these ex-members of band who just played a few live shows who makes out they are a proper ex-member who coat tails it and takes the p*ss. You actually played on something before they were even massive and it's there on record so that's different how I look at it.
Glenn: It's legit.
Lloyd: I know that. Yeah. We still talk to each other. We are friends.
Lloyd: I'm looking forward to getting invited to the 40th year (laughs).
Glenn: You'll be there, you'll be there. There's no doubt mate. No issue at all on that one. Who have you been lucky to meet over the years as a guitarist?
Lloyd: One of the guitarists, when I was learning guitar who was important was Jimmy Page. I was in Ohio. Metallica invited me to the 'Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame' Party when they were being inducted and Jimmy Page was there.
Glenn: I remember you showing me the pictures when we were at Namm with you and Jimmy Page.
Lloyd: Yeah I remember that.
Glenn: What else can you tell me about your songs that will get readers/agents/promoters furtherly interested in your music?
Lloyd: Well a couple of them are Heavy Metal, some of them are Rock 'N' Roll. I haven't decided which ones I'm going to put together for one solo album – as in which ones are going to make it. But they are Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Rock 'N' Roll – that's what I'll have on.
Glenn: Whatever works at the time and wherever your head was at and whatever you were into at that particular moment?
Glenn: How old are some of these songs? Have you had these songs for quite a long time or are they pretty new – been written in the last year or two? Or span right back to when you were first playing?
Lloyd: Some of them have been re-wrote. Most of them are within the last ten years.
Lloyd: I bought some equipment way back and I was using that equipment to record. A friend of mine who is a guitarist in Warrant, Joey Allen, he knows Phil (Collen) from Def Leppard. I was at Joey's house and Phil came over. We were talking about the Roland recorder. He said he had one of them too and that's what he writes on. That's my old equipment that I used to use because it was really good equipment.
I was surprised that Phil was using that to write, when he writes his songs to submit to the other guys in Def Leppard. He said that some of it goes direct from what he recorded to on that digital recorder. So I have some I recorded on that and the rest were done on my computer with the Pro-Tools and so forth.
Glenn: Excellent. Are there any particular songs that you are really proud of writing?
Lloyd: I'll leave it up to the audience. I may be proud of it but if no-one else likes it then that's no good. There is one song I am pleased about. It has melodic arpeggio picking at the beginning that goes into a heavy riff. Then it goes into a Rock 'N' Roll rhythm for the solo and then it comes back to the heavy riff. It has the picking in the middle of the song also. It's kind of like some of the stuff that Metallica would do that would have clean guitars at the beginning. It has a solo over that. I have a few songs like that.
Glenn: I'm looking forward to hearing your songs come out in one form or another when the album is ready.
Lloyd: Yeah it will be out.
Glenn: Who have you been recording with recent to get some of the songs down?
Lloyd: Usually I put it down myself because it's faster. It takes less time but I will be going to a rehearsal place pretty soon, In a couple of months so I can get some people in there and start playing with the songs. I have been playing with a couple of other people but they are not available all the time.
Glenn: Who are the current and main members in your band? Are they biggish names or local guys?
Lloyd: There's no notable people in the band right now. If you say their name, they wouldn't be recognisable.
Glenn: Yeah. There's an awful lot of good players across there. You don't even have to be a big name to be a good player. You just become a big name after time anyway. It's irrelevant isn't it?
Glenn: We are start somewhere.
Lloyd: Yep. I want to come over there to the UK when I have my band ready and to one or two other European Countries while I am there. I am going to make sure that the fans get the full dose of Heavy Metal from the Metallica Guitarist.
Glenn: Anyway, I'm going to let you get off but it's been nice to have a chat with you Sir.
Lloyd: Yeah. It's an honour talking to you too Glenn.
Glenn: No problem. You take care of yourself.
Lloyd: You too. Thanks.
A Special Thank You to Raquel Figlo of Raquel Figlo PR for introducing me to Lloyd and taking the opening photo.