Last year, Metallica held a contest dubbed 'Hit the Stage' where a band was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to open five stadium shows on their North American "WorldWired" tour. The winning act was a surprising one as Chicago alternative rock stalwarts Local H, who initially rose to prominence in the late '90s, were chosen after significant fan voting.

Whereas most of the others in the competition were relatively unknown outside of their hometown, Local H had an established and dedicated following long after their biggest commercial success had passed. This led to some criticisms, which the Chicago duo handled expertly with a blend of self-deprecation and humor, like posting a video where they read the mean comments floating around social media about them.

This Friday (Jan. 12), Local H kick off brief run in the Midwest before heading over to Europe next for a trek that will take them through the end of February. The full list of tour dates can be found here. They also have a new live album, Live in Europe, set for release sometime in February.

Before that, we caught up with frontman and guitarist Scott Lucas to get his take on the experiences surrounding the Metallica shows, what it meant to the band and their fans, and what's next for Local H. Check out our exclusive interview below!

What was it like opening up for Metallica for those five dates?

It was weird. I never get used to it and [am] never comfortable – it was just strange. It was one of those things where you don’t get comfortable until it’s over; it was like high school. The last week of high school it’s like, “Oh, I like these people!” Before that it was all this stuff…to say that it was another world and that they’re on another level is to insult that game.

What was your interaction with the band? Did they come in and say, "Hey!" to you or anything?

Oh yeah. Lars [Ulrich] came in and he was talking to me and was like, “We must’ve run into each other at some point,” and I was like, “Now that you mention it, we have.” I think it was at a Kid Rock party in L.A. or something. He laughs and says, “I think it was.” It was fun, it was exactly what you would think. Lars is interested in you and Kirk [Hammett] was super nice and I’ve been playing his pedals; a guy in Europe had hooked us up with some of his pedals, and he was talking to me, “Anything you want,” he was super nice. And James [Hetfield] totally was fucking with me. So it was like everything I thought those guys would be like.

Overall, what would you say the experience gave Local H?

I don’t know – you know? I can’t really tell. I have no idea if it made a difference or what. And it doesn’t matter. I wanted to do it and was glad to do it and don’t really give a shit about stuff like that.

Did you figure it was going to make a difference?

No – and I think that’s what would differentiate us from everybody else [in the contest]. We knew if we got the shows, more people would see us, but we also know it could make a difference or it could not make a difference. So, we weren’t relying on it in any way. We’ll see what happens.

What was your reaction from Local H fans who went to Metallica shows, and from Metallica fans who had never seen Local H before?

People were super cool. Like, there was a thing, “Watch out, Metallica fans are really mean,” and stuff like that, so I had that on my mind. But they were super cool, like, “Great show!” Everybody from our neck of the woods, they made the thing happen in the first place, so they were on our side from the beginning. The whole thing happened because of them. It was really touching, and honestly, I just wanted to do a good job for them. We wanted to reward their faith in us – and that was first and foremost on my mind.

Would you do it again?

Go through that contest? No. I would never do something like that again. It was really…it wasn’t supposed to happen. We didn’t sign off on it, it just happened. I was kinda like, “I dunno…” and then Gabe, who does our merch, was like, “What’s wrong with you? What the fuck – do you want to play with Metallica?” And I was like, “Yeah, I do,” and he says, “Well stop hemming and hawing and just get into this.” So it was a thing of where I was like, I felt bad, and then I realized a little bit later, “I really do want this.” I would never pursue something like that.

Reading the mean tweets and comments was such a boon for you. Lars even brought that up when he called the Chicago radio station to announce you had won.

That’s kind of our m.o. – you know? I think Lars picked up on that as well. Our entire … I don’t want to use the word career, but whatever, it’s always been about, let’s take the music seriously but let’s not take ourselves seriously. Everyone was like, “You need to make a video,” and we weren’t going to cover a Metallica song – they’re too hard. I can’t play Metallica songs. We were in New Orleans and just about to go on and I was like, “I f—kin’ got it. Let’s just make fun of us.” And that was totally the right move.

What’s next for Local H?

We’ve got a live record that we recorded when we toured in Europe earlier [in 2017], and it’s really, really good. We’re gonna go back over there in January and February, then we have something else that we’re talking about doing, but when we go home, we’ll start concentrating on a new record.

Will there be another Awesome Mix Tape [a series of cover EPs]?

That’s something on the backburner. We’ve got some stuff already.

Local H Read Mean Tweets