LARS ULRICH: 'New Wave Of British Heavy Metal Is A Big Part Of METALLICA'

April 22, 2023

In a new interview with Japanese music critic and radio personality Masa Ito of TVK's "Rock City", Lars Ulrich spoke about METALLICA's enduring appreciation for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) — the monumental British metal and European metal movement from 1979 through 1982 — and how it continues to influence METALLICA's music to this day.

He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[New Wave Of British Heavy Metal is] a big part of the reason that METALLICA exists and it's a big part of the reason that, obviously, we're still sitting here.

"My playlists in my iPhone and the playlists in my car and the music that I listen to… Yesterday — I kid you not — I was listening to DEF LEPPARD's 'Good Morning Freedom', I was listening to HOLLOW GROUND, the single by this band HOLLOW GROUND, one of the lesser-known bands of British heavy metal, on one of my playlists in my car as I was driving to take my son to and from school and to his sports practices.

"New Wave Of British Heavy Metal is a big part of me, it's a big part of METALLICA," Lars continued. "New Wave Of British Heavy Metal is for us in METALLICA a gift that keeps on giving. And it's something that we circle and have circled in and out of forever.

"I know there's a lot of people that connect [METALLICA's recent single] 'Lux Æterna' to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. And I can tell you and look everybody in the eye and go, that wasn't necessarily the battle cry. When we sat down, we didn't say, 'Let's write a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal type of song.' But, obviously, I can hear those connections in the song when I disconnect myself from the recording and the writing process. And, like I said, I'm always proud to fly the flag for New Wave Of British Heavy Metal at any level that I can."

A self-proclaimed NWOBHM fanatic, Ulrich spent much of his time in the early 1980s tracking down obscure recordings from his favorite groups of the era. Ten years after the NWOBHM's glory days of 1982, Ulrich took time out to put together a multi-band compilation, "'79 Revisited: New Wave Of British Heavy Metal", along with journalist Geoff Barton, whose work in the now-defunct weekly U.K. rock paper Sounds had kept Ulrich posted while he was in the States.

At METALLICA's first-ever concert, which took place on March 14, 1982 at Radio City in Anaheim, California, Ulrich, James Hetfield, Dave Mustaine and Ron McGovney ran through a nine-song set, including no less than seven NWOBHM covers: four tracks by DIAMOND HEAD and one each from BLITZKRIEG, SWEET SAVAGE and SAVAGE.

Back in 2010, Lars was asked by Australia's long-running rock station Triple M about the band that was responsible for inspiring him to launch METALLICA. Ulrich said: "It was the summer of '81 and I'd been trying to get a band off the ground in California, but not much happened, so I sort of got fed up with the whole thing.

"DIAMOND HEAD were my favorite band, and I landed at Heathrow Airport (in London) and I went down to Woolwich Odeon, it was called, which was sort of a baby Odeon; it was about the size of this room we're in here. And there they were — DIAMOND HEAD. And I brown-nosed my way backstage and got a chance to meet them afterwards. I had actually written them a couple of fan letters. I was stunned to find out that they actually knew who I was. Maybe they didn't get as much fan mail as I expected, because the letter that I had sent them were actually on their radar. But then I ended up staying with them for the better part of the rest of the summer and ended up sleeping in the singer's front room.

"A lot of these bands that came out of that period, everything about the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal that I really liked was that all these bands were really grounded. There was a relaxed atmosphere around them, it wasn't sort of... Everything that had been going on in the '70s with bands like QUEEN and PINK FLOYD and DEEP PURPLE and LED ZEPPELIN, it was all about this larger-than-life type of thing and all these bands that were so grand and so majestic and so kind of out there. And a lot of these new bands — IRON MAIDEN and DIAMOND HEAD and all these bands — they were just kids, and they had their feet very firmly planted on the ground. So, in some way, the spirit of that whole movement was about keeping it real and all those attitudes just kind of rubbed off on us and rubbed off on me and made me want to start a band and really have the fans involved and give the fans as much access as possible."

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