Metallica was all about physical amplifiers and microphones right up until they played their legendary Antarctica show. According to Metallica’s guitar tech Chad Zaemisch in an interview with RJM Music Technology Inc, the band has since moved over to using Fractal Audio’s Axe-FX live.
“Matt Picone [of Fractal Audio] came out and helped us to transition into this stuff because we actually had to go play a show in Antarctica,” said Zaemisch. “That’s why we couldn’t bring any amps, all the people at the show that we brought with us on the ship wore headphones, there was an environmental issue too, where you can’t disturb the wildlife.”
He continued: “And I gotta actually give James a lot of credit because it was a big deal to give up your typical analog amps. We got an old-school band, and it’s all about the loud amps, and James was really like, ‘Do we continue to use these?'”
Zaemisch later added that the band is still very into all the digital equipment, mostly because it’s way easier to get around from show to show.
“All this stuff is cheaper to ship around, it’s more reliable, and all the rigs now sound exactly the same, rather than analog amps being finicky. It made a lot of sense. I was all for it because anytime I can plug my computer into my equipment and manipulate it,” he explains.
“I’m all for it because it was starting to get boring, just taking strings off, putting strings on for bands, and plugging a couple of things in it. You gotta be really creative when doing that. So, once we got into that, then yeah, we started from scratch and built up presets.”
“Then you move to the next better thing that comes out, improvements and things. So yeah, we’re all pretty well, we help each other, but we do it ourselves just to get good sounds.”
“And it was actually nice because, for me, I went from inheriting what the guitar rig was sounding like and just maintaining it to now being responsible for what it sounds like, having more invested in it.”