The lead single from Hardwired...to Self-Destruct, this was debuted on August 18, 2016 during a live interview with Minneapolis rock station 93X (KXXR-FM). 93X's Pablo was discussing the band's upcoming performance at US Bank Stadium when Lars Ulrich surprised him by unleashing the song for the first time.
Clocking in at 3:11, the incendiary track is old-school Metallica with a distorted riff that harkens back to the group's earlier thrash metal sound. Drummer Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone that characteristic extends to the rest of the album and was in part inspired by Metallica's 1983 LP Kill 'Em All, which the band revisited when they performed it in full during the 2013 Orion festival.
"[Kill 'Em All] had its own thing with the speed, but it's simpler -- the songs are longer but not quite as progressive," said Ulrich. "It's a world all its own. And I think there are some elements of that that rubbed off into [Hardwired...to Self-Destruct]. I'd say there's a trace of residue from rediscovering Kill 'Em All that crept into the songwriting."
The song along with the rest of the album, was produced by Greg Fidelman, who was an engineer and mixer on 2008's Death Magnetic.
The album title is taken from the last line of song's chorus in which James Hetfield declares that he and his bandmates are, "Hardwired to self-destruct!!!"
Here's what Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone about the creation of the track:
"That's actually the last song we wrote for the record. We started this album by throwing different ideas around. The shape of it, as a collection of songs, didn't come into focus until we were deep into it. At that point, the songs were getting tighter, shorter and leaner.
A couple of months ago, we were sitting there taking stock of the record and thought maybe we should write one more fast, little crazy song, and that became 'Hardwired'. It just kind of happened. I think James [Hetfield] and I wrote and recorded it in less than a week, which, for us, is basically a nanosecond."
Speaking about the song's meaning to So What
, James Hetfield said:
"'Hardwired' is so simple, it is not Shakespeare, I know that. But gosh, are humans really doing the right thing? You know. And in the history of time, we're a little blip. And are we gonna be gone? Are we phasing ourselves out with electronics? Are we becoming this? Are we gonna self-destruct because of our egos and all of the stuff that makes humans human?"
According to Hetfield the phrase "hardwired to self-destruct" came from a friend of his "that was just throwing it out there as a struggling addict. Is that what it's like for us? Is our default just to die? Earlier than we're supposed to. Wreck. Destroy our lives; are we hardwired to self-destruct? And that just caught my ear."
The song was birthed spontaneously. Lars Ulrich told Q magazine "It was the last song that was recorded and the last song that was written, Kirk and Rob weren't even there. James and I just banged it out in a week at the end of May (2016). All of it was done so briefly that we didn't over think it. And because of that it just seemed like a good slap in the face for people, and a fun way to kick it off."