Metallica‘s Orion Music + More festival is set for this weekend, June 23 and 24, at Bader Field in Atlantic City, N.J.. “We’re psyched to be here,” Lars Ulrich told a crowd of reporters at the Orion press conference Friday afternoon. Even though the resort city got pounded with rain earlier in the day, spirits were incredibly high for Ulrich and the rest of the band.

Wearing shorts and flip-flops, a smiling James Hetfield addressed the question on everyone’s minds: Why Orion? “We’ve been thinking about this for a while … we’ve been doing festivals for 30 years,” he explained. “We’ve seen what other people have tried to do and wanted to do it better.”

Bassist Rob Trujillo added, “There aren’t many festivals like this that are by the beach … This is exciting. It’s a bit more casual. It’s more of a hang and I like that.”

Ticket holders can expect a solid weekend of nonstop music from bands that span several genres, from the Black Dahlia Murder to Eric Church to Sepultura to Modest Mouse. “I think what we’ve got is the best of different kinds of music,” Hetfield said. “There are a lot of bands on the bill that I’m not a big fan of, but I respect what they do.”

Ulrich told the crowd that he is most excited to see Baroness and the Arctic Monkeys. Guitarist Kirk Hammett mentioned Gary Clark Jr., Cage the Elephant and Ghost (which received several cheers of approval). Trujillo knew what band he had to say he was most excited to see. “If I don’t say Suicidal Tendencies, I’ll get my ass kicked!”

The press conference took a bit of a philosophical turn when metal personality Jose Mangin asked the band how they felt about the state of rock ‘n’ roll in 2012. “You’re here, so it’s alive,” Hetfield said. “It’s in your hearts. [Rock] dying and [rock's] popularity are two different things. I love being the underdog, I love being the thing that’s not liked, and I love building it back up again.”

If there is one band that is good at building things, it’s Metallica. They have built an empire, not just of financial and commercial success, but of loyalty and admiration from their fans across the globe. Orion is a testament to not just the band, but also to their fanbase. So will Metallica be taking this festival experience out on the road?

“All you’ve got to do is invite us,” Lars told a reporter from Chile. “Let’s have that conversation on Monday. Let’s just get through the next 72 hours.”

Orion Music + More will kick off with Black Tusk on the Damage Inc. stage at 1PM Saturday. The band that will close each night out is of course the mighty Metallica, playing the full ‘Ride the Lightning’ album on Saturday night and the Black Album in its entirety Sunday night.

“It’s very scary and we hope that people show up,” Hetfield shared. “But at the end of the day, it’s about the music.”

Watch Metallica’s Orion + More Press Conference [Pt. 1]

Watch Metallica’s Orion + More Press Conference [Pt. 2]

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