Exclusive: Ron McGovney Interview
Posted by Minus Human
Recently I had the chance to interview Ron McGovney (Metallica's First Bass Player) via E-mail. I asked him a handful of questions, as did a few other names from around the Metallica community. Ron very generously answered every question, and this is what he had to say:
Could you explain for everyone exactly what your part was in the early days of Metallica? - AllMet
I was not only the first bass player for Metallica, I was also the lead roadie. The band was formed in my garage and we used my dad's old Ford pickup to haul our equipment. I built a drum stage for Lars that we used in clubs. My parents and I actually were the financial backers of the band in the early days.
What songs did you record/help write with them and how many gigs did you play together? - AllMet
All of the songs that are found on Kill Em All were written in my garage and we played all of them when I was in the band. We also did Diamond Head covers: The Prince, Sucking My Love, Am I Evil, and Helpless. We covered Blitzkrieg by Blitzkrieg, Let It Loose by Savage and Killing Time by Sweet Savage. All of those songs can be found on bootlegs, but I have a practice tape of us doing some of those songs. I am going to put a copy up on eBay soon. I did do some arranging of the songs, but I was never credited with anything. I played at least 28 gigs with the band in the first year. A guy recently sent me a list of all the gigs I played an d I had forgotten about a few of them.
What were your musical inspirations then and what bands do you like now? -AllMet
I was a UFO freak when I was in high school and Michael Schenker was a god to me. It's too bad he has fallen on hard times recently. We also listened to Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, etc. You know, any kind of headbanging metal. I still listen to the old stuff. Most of the newer bands sound alike. I guess that's my 40 years talking. I sound like my dad.
Do you follow Metallica's progress today and listen to all of their latest works? -AllMet
I don't really follow Metallica's progress as close as I used to. I have 3 kids and they take a lot of my time. The last Metallica album that I bought was the black album. I don't have any later Metallica albums. I can't believe I am still saying albums. I mean CDs. Geez I am getting old.
Would you ever meet up with Metallica for a jam session? -AllMet
Jam session? I haven't played in so long they would probably laugh their asses off. You have to remember that they are professional musicians. I was just a garage player who did play a few gigs.
What are you up to these days? - AllMet
I am just a blue collar worker probably like most Metallica fans. I do own a big house in the mountains of North Carolina. My family and I moved here from Los Angeles about 5 years ago. It is a lot better place to raise kids out here. That's my opinion anyway.
When Metallica was recently looking for a new bass player, were you tempted to go and try out yourself? -AllMet
It didn't even cross my mind to try out. However, after the tragic loss of Cliff Burton in 1986, I did think about trying out. I guess I didn't want to be disappointed if they picked someone else. Jason was a good bass player and a great guy too.
Do you still play bass? Are you in any bands? -AllMet
I really don't play bass anymore, but I still have my basses and amps. Every weekend, my kids and I jam on guitars and drums. I have an old 1982 Washburn A20 guitar that my friend Jim Kiechle gave me. It's a lot of fun. My son Tyler who is 10 plays the drums. I just crank up the distortion and we play some Sabbath and stuff. The last band that I was in was Phantasm in 1987. That was with Katon Depena the singer for Hirax. We did pretty well in the LA clubs. We also played in Phoenix and Oakland.
How did you become friends with James? And when did you meet Lars? -AllMet
James and I became friends through music. He used to make fun of the Elvis sticker I had on my notebook. I used to make fun of his Aerosmith pictures on his pee chee. He did get me involved in metal. I really didn't listen to hard rock or metal until I met him. He was really a good friend back in high school. James had met Lars through a mutual friend and I was introduced to him at a Priest concert in San Bernardino, Ca. in 1981. I cracked up at this little Danish guy with band patches all over his denim vest. He was really a riot. It was really funny when he would argue on the phone with his mom. They were speaking in Danish and the only word I could understand was Fuck!
Knowing the success of Metallica, what's it like looking back on your days with them? Any regrets? - Blackfaded
I do have a few regrets about things back then. I wish I would have taken music more seriously like James did. I wish I would have been more tolerant of things that went on in my house. It was definitely a power struggle. Everyone wanted to be in charge.
Are you still friends with James, Lars or Dave? - Kirk Jr.
I haven't talked to the guys in Metallica since 1998. James and I have had some problems about things I have said in interviews and such. I am just honest. Nothing I have ever said in a Metallica interview has been a lie. I guess I just offer too much information. He probably wishes that I would just keep my mouth shut. I don't think Lars really cares what I say. I haven't talked to Dave Mustaine since the early 90s.
What kind of basses do you prefer playing? -Crazy Metal
I have only owned three basses in my life. My 1981 Ibanez Roadster was stolen at a gig in Long Beach, Ca. in 1982 When we played with Roxx Regime(Stryper).I still have my well known Metallica bass; the 1982 Washburn B20. I use it for the backdrop for my eBay auctions. I have a 1986 Fender P-bass that I used in Phantasm.
You guys were friends at such a young age, when did you first meet Hetfield, and what was he like in high school? - HardcoreHage
I met James at East Middle School in Downey ,Californ ia in 1974. We were in the 6th grade. We really didn't become friends until we were at Downey High in 1977. He was very shy and quiet. I know that may be hard to believe now.
Bye S.O.D http://www.paniczone-band.de
Old School Metal forever.†.666.†.