Nothing Else Matters
Dave Gahan had joined 52 other artists in covering a song from Metallica's The Black Album for The Metallica Blacklist out September 10th. All proceeds from Dave's cover of 'Nothing Else Matters' will go to Metallica's All Within My Hands Foundation and World Central Kitchen.
Dave Gahan said in an interview with Metallica.com:
Dave Gahan: "The song itself was iconic for Metallica and Metallica fans, and I’m sure it’s a staple in their set. And the thing about it is that it’s an unusual song for them. When you dig deep into the song, which I did, it’s a very intimate, personal song. It’s not your usual sing-along, “let’s rock” type song either; I wanted to pull that out of it. I wanted to go down a very sort of cinematic sort of approach with it. It was in the middle of Covid I was asked to do this, I hadn’t been doing anything, I didn’t want to do anything, and I started listening to this record again. And this song was the one that kept leaping out to me, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to do it. So yeah, I wanted to turn it on its head, and I wanted it to become a much more intimate, one-on-one, stuck in a box type of feeling. But at the same time, to have a kind of cinematic backdrop. It was recorded here in New York with Adrian [Hierholzer], my friend right here, and he did my vocals for me, [the cello was by Gyda Valtysdottir of the band Mum in Brooklyn, NY, while the guitar was recorded by Peter Hayes from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in LA – ED]. Then a lot of the stuff [keyboards, production, and mixing – ED] was done over in Iceland with my friend Kurt Uenala, and we created this backdrop for the song that, to me, complements how good the song is."
Steffan Chirazi: "So, I’m not sure if anyone’s told you, but James was the principal person who asked if you could be involved in this project. Quite simply he likes your work and I think was really interested to see what would happen. But it’s interesting that you zeroed in on finding a very, very intimate channel in the song. I think it’s become – and meant – different things over the years, as songs tend to do to their writers. If you would, talk a little bit about why you wanted to zero in on that sense and what emotions it drew out of you, now, as an artist. I’d love to hear what drew you to this interpretation of that song because it’s quite on point."
Dave Gahan: "Well, thank you. It took a little bit of doing. First of all, I was in my house, playing a bit of guitar, plugged into my amp, and strapped my black Gretsch on. And I have fun playing along to the Stones – playing along to Exile on Main St. is one of my favorites. Occasionally my wife looks at me, or one of my kids, and they’re like, “Oh, that was cool, Dad.” But most of the time it’s just “shut up,” you know. But I get lost in it. So that’s the first thing I did: put the guitar on and I just started playing The Black Album, just chugging along with things, and I kept stopping. You know, you’ve also got this beautiful guitar work as well on the song. And Kirk, the solo is iconic. It’s in that same way that to me – I might get this totally wrong – but to me, it’s like their “Stairway to Heaven” or something. It’s like Zeppelin, they’re rocking along, they’re chugging along, and then suddenly there’s this very sentimental ballad that could’ve really gone the wrong way. I get pulled into those kinds of sentiments, if it’s done well, and I think Metallica did it very well. My first thought though with it was that, okay, I’ve got to do something very, very different. You know, I can sing balls out, I could do that if I wanted. But it hit me pretty quickly that I had to do something quite different if I was going to do this. It took me a little while, and then I suddenly clicked one day, put the guitar down, and I started singing in a [certain] way. I had this little Fender PA system where I usually warm up my voice, and I started getting closer and closer to the mic, I wanted to really hear the words as if I was talking to somebody, but singing at the same time, and honoring that melody that’s in the song. I was lucky we went down that road where I wanted to do the total opposite, really, of what Metallica were doing with it, but pay great respect and compliment to the song."
Steffan Chirazi: "Well it’s a super intriguing version, and I think also there’s some very interesting pathways that you and James as songwriters probably share. Let me make that my penultimate question. Did you ever feel, as you were reading the lyrics and getting the transcriptions of the music, did you feel a kinship with him as a writer in any way?"
Dave Gahan: "Yeah, well, you know I asked the guys if they could send me a version that would have just James. I wanted just James on there. I didn’t want any backing vocals, I just wanted to hear his raw kind of emotion. And that’s the version! I heard that, I could hear him trying, and I love that about the voice. You can use all these effects and stuff like that, but getting to that raw real soul coming out of your body was what I wanted to do with it."
Dates where Nothing Else Matters was played
Nothing Else Matters has never been played live.