In an interview with Rolling Stone, guitarist Kirk Hammett claims the quartet can't afford not to tour because they don't make enough money from royalties. Hammett added that, although the band would like to be able to spend more time with their families, they simply can't afford to.
That figure complements overall album sales of roughly 53,000,000 since 91, making the quartet the fourth biggest artist of the Soundscan era, behind Garth Brooks, The Beatles and Mariah Carey.
And yet, improbably, Hammett tells Rolling Stone, "The cycles of taking two years off don't exist any more. We were able to do that because we had record royalties coming in consistently. Now you put out an album, and you have a windfall maybe once or twice, but not the way it used to be – a cheque every three months."
Hammett then said that the band would actively like to tour less, but can't. He added: "We've been a live band, we've had to get out there and play, play, play. But nowadays that was the area we wanted to kind of lay back on a little bit, and kind of enjoy our families and things. But, you know, it is what it is, and we can't change that."
Admittedly, it takes a lot of cash to keep the well-oiled Metallica machine humming. But it is hard to imagine how a band that can sell out a concert tour anywhere on the planet and that has rarely made a commercial misstep in the whole of its career - charitably overlooking their ridiculous Lou Reed collaboration, Lulu - doesn’t have palettes of cash in the bank.
Unless their backstage rider calls for daily servings of Unicorn Tartare and Bald Eagle Burgers topped with lobster and paired with jugs of 1952-vintage Cristal, you have to wonder: maybe time for a new accountant?