METALLICA‘s James Hetfield says that the band “lost millions” of dollars by staging the Orion Music + More festival, making it highly unlikely the band will get involved in such a project ever again.
The June 2013 Orion event at Belle Isle in Detroit drew at least 40,000 people over the course of two days to see METALLICA, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, DEFTONES, SILVERSUN PICKUPS, RISE AGAINST and more.
The band moved the event to Detroit after holding the inaugural edition in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2012 in what Billboard at the time called a “smooth transition” for a “successful second year.”
Speaking to the METALLICA fan-club magazine So What!, Hetfield stated about Orion Music + More: “I’m so glad we did Orion. Those two we did were fun. We got some bands out there in front of people, our fans mainly, and that was the whole idea. If it would have broken even, we’d still be doing it, but we lost millions both times. We can’t do that. At some point, business comes into play. Why would you keep doing something that’s damaging you and could prevent you moving forward?”
He added: “It was fun to do, we had a blast doing it, employed a lot of people and helped out both cities it was in. A lot of good came out of it, but we can’t do it again.”
Asked why he thought Orion didn’t work, Hetfield said: “Maybe it was too adventurous, bill-wise. I think it was too wide. If it was more of a metal fest, or really hard, maybe? What we were going for was ‘edge.’ Every band that was there had some kind of edge. And it didn’t matter what genre they were in. I won’t say every band, but that’s the vibe we were going for. Maybe it needed to be a little more secular.”
He continued: “How do festivals get big? I don’t know. If it’s billed as the hippie festival, do all the hippies come? If it’s billed as the death metal fest, do all the death metal people come?”
“And who knows? Maybe it was us attaching our name. It’s, like, ‘Ah, it’s their festival. I don’t want to go.’ I have no idea! Are we putting too much importance on our name? If we opened up the METALLICA hamburger stand over there, would more people come or fewer people come because they like us or don’t like us? Are their opinions influenced by our moniker on there?”
Hetfield went on to speculate why METALLICA fans were reluctant to spend their hard-earned money on a festival featuring a bunch of non-metal acts. He said: “Why, at the METALLICA festival, are the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS playing? Or why did Eric Church play at a METALLICA festival? That’s just wrong. I’m not going.’ And tribalism. I love tribal earth. I love ‘belonging.’ I love a sense of family. I love a sense of ‘it’s okay to be different when you’re different together.’ And everyone’s different. Everyone knows they’re connected at the end of the day, but maybe sometimes you just think, ‘Why can’t you just like what you like because you like it?’ Do I have to sit through ten other bands that I don’t like just to see the band I like? Maybe I don’t want to do that.’ It’s as simple as that.”