LARS ULRICH Explains How His Child Custody Battle Changed The Way METALLICA Tours
April 17, 2023
During an appearance on comedian Bill Maher's "Club Random" podcast, Lars Ulrich opened up about how a child custody arrangement with one of his ex-wives led to METALLICA embracing a touring schedule that involved playing shows for no more than two weeks at a time. The METALLICA drummer said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Maybe in the last 10, 15 years, we came around — and this is no disrespect to our managers — but we came around the other side and basically said, 'Listen, we need to start putting some boundaries and some parameters around what we're willing to do,' because back in the day we would do three [or] four in a row and then have one day off and then three in a row and then one day off, and then have a week off between going to Europe and America. And finally, like I said, maybe around 15 [years ago], maybe around the [release of the] 'Some Kind Of Monster' [documentary], we took charge and said, 'We're willing to go out for this long, for this long,' and blah blah blah. And at one point, when I was fighting a child custody case between maybe '08 to '10, maybe, give or take, we did a whole world tour for two years around not being on the road for more than two weeks at a time. We would play in Europe for two weeks, then come home, play two weeks and then come home. We did an American tour a week at a time."
Ulrich went on to explain that because he "had 50-50 custody" of his kids, "there was no budging" on the amount of uninterrupted time each parent had with the children. "So literally I would take 'em to school Monday morning and we would fly and we would play five shows in America — Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday," he explained. "Sunday night we'd fly home. I would be with my kids from that Monday morning for a week. And the rest of the guys in the band — God bless them — were gracious enough and kind enough to work with that. And it was a whole world tour for two years. So we were never gone for more than two weeks at a time."
Lars previously touched upon METALLICA's lighter touring schedule during a 2017 interview with The Ringer. At the time, he said: "If you look at [our tour] dates, you'll see that we don't do more than two weeks at a time. We'll do two weeks, then we'll go home for a couple weeks. Then we'll do two weeks, and we'll go home for a couple weeks. That way, it never feels like it's so long that you're going to fall off the deep end or that you're afraid of losing what's left of your sanity or whatever. We basically just do two-week increments. It's a way to keep it feeling fresh, so we don't burn ourselves out."
Asked how he and his bandmates get around for those stretches, Ulrich told The Ringer: "Generally, you're sort of encased in a small metal tube with a pair of jet engines on it, and you just fly from one place to the other. What we do a lot is called 'basing' — not that kind of basing, but basing in cities. We'll play the West Coast usually from home. Or if we're out on the East Coast, we'll stay in New York for a couple weeks. That way you can kind of keep a hotel room, keep your family out there. Then you fly to the show and fly back. It's a way to stay as calm and as sane as possible in the middle of all the madness. A lot of times in Europe, we'll stay in London or Paris or Copenhagen. We pick cities that we enjoy being in. That makes it all somewhat tolerable."
In a 2017 interview with Nosey, Ulrich said that it was METALLICA's enormous commercial success that enabled the band to control how much it tours any given year.
"Over the years, when you're fortunate enough to become successful, when you become successful you can become more financially independent," he explained. "And so we've been able to put parameters on how we tour so we can spend more time at home. We have a two-week rule: we don't leave home for more than two weeks at a time, 16 days at the most. We did 180 dates on the last album in two-week increments. It's not the most cost-effective way of touring the world, but we believe you can't put a price on sanity. If you remain somewhat sane, thrn there's a better chance of finishing all the shows and not jumping off the deep end in despair and misery."
Lars had two sons, Myles (born in 1998) and Layne (born in 2001),with former wife Skylar Satenstein. He also has another son, Bryce (born in 2007),with "Gladiator" actress Connie Nielsen.
Lars and model Jessica Miller got engaged in July 2013 and married two years later. It is the third marriage for Lars, who was previously married to Debbie Jones and Satenstein.
Myles and Layne play in a band called TAIPEI HOUSTON, which released its debut album, "Once Bit Never Bored", last November via C3 Records.
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