According to the Sonoma Index-Tribune, METALLICA‘s performance that will air on August 29 at drive-in theaters was filmed nearly three weeks earlier at the Gundlach Bundschu winery, about a 30-minute car ride from the band’s headquarters in San Rafael, California.

Less than half a dozen locals were made aware that the biggest heavy metal band in the world was set up overlooking the vineyard of the Sonoma winery secretly performing some of their biggest hits without an audience.

The band rehearsed for two weeks at their headquarters while the METALLICA crew stayed in 30 rooms at Sonoma’s El Pueblo Inn for almost two weeks. Everyone was subjected to repeated COVID testing before METALLICA played the secret concert on August 10 without any of their fans in attendance.

METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett told Uproxx about the concert: “We filmed the actual drive-in show about two weeks ago, at a secret location in Northern California. And it was the first time that we had gotten together since [last September’s] ‘S&M’ shows. It was really important for us to be able to come together and play that particular show, because we needed to just get some sort of semblance of, if we’re going to go forward in the future, how that was going to look with the pandemic going, and all of these safety protocols. We adapted this whole safety protocol so that we were able to work at HQ, and rehearse without us having any fears of being infected, or infecting other people. What that meant was getting tested for COVID, literally every other day. That week of rehearsal, I got tested for COVID five times… It also meant that our entire crew had to have face masks on. A double face mask, which was a paper mask and an N95 mask, [plus] a face shield, and a raincoat, and gloves, and sanitize, and just spray our guitars. That was while we were rehearsing. While we were filming, we were the only people in the whole place without masks on. Everyone else had masks on. And everyone, from the crew to us, had been tested, and quarantined as well. We were able to do that, and do that successfully without any health flare-ups, or any obvious sort of potential of getting infected. So that kind of set a precedent for us moving forward. It gave us hope, knowing that with all this that’s happening right now, if we need to, we can still get together and function as a band.”

Asked what fans should expect from the resulting feature-length film, which will be screened at more than 300 outdoor venues across the country, including at the winery where the concert was filmed, Hammett said: “Full balls-out METALLICA show. We’re filmed playing outside, and it’s everything you should expect to see from us. We walk out on stage and play our music. It’s just the 2020 version. If anything, it’s a document of us playing in this time. And it’s also an opportunity for us to just put something out there for the people who are bored, and for METALLICA fans who need something to do. I know I’m constantly looking for something to do. And so this is our way of going out there and just giving people something.”

METALLICA‘s concert was shot specially for the “Encore Drive-In Nights Series” and was subsequently edited and mixed by the band’s award-winning production team to the highest standards possible.

Earlier this month, METALLICA took part in an interview and short performance on “The Howard Stern Show”.

In early May, the four members of METALLICA overcame social distancing to record a new version of their song “Blackened”, with each member separated in his own home. The split-screen video was posted to the band’s social media channels.

METALLICA has been largely out of the public eye since last fall when the band canceled an Australian tour and announced that frontman James Hetfield was returning to rehab for the first time since 2002 to battle his addictions.

In March, METALLICA announced that its South American tour, which was originally planned for April, has been postponed until December. In addition, the band’s appearances at five Danny Wimmer Presents-produced festivals in May, September and October have been canceled: Epicenter in Charlotte, Welcome To Rockville in Daytona, Sonic Temple in Columbus, Louder Than Life in Louisville and Aftershock in Sacramento.

Photo credit: Anton Corbijn