LARS ULRICH: 'Playing Covers Will Always Be A Significant Part Of The DNA Of METALLICA'

July 31, 2020

During an appearance on this past Wednesday's (July 29) episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Lars Ulrich spoke about METALLICA's penchant for covering classic songs from artists that he and his bandmates were influenced or inspired by.

The drummer said: "You have to remember that, for all intents and purposes, METALLICA started as a cover band. So when we got together, and we were there in Southern California in February or March of '82, there were kind of two paths at the time. One was that you basically were sort of like a cover band and you would play bar favorites — you'd go out and play 'Smoke On The Water' or 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love' or 'Rock And Roll All Nite' or 'Black Dog'; that was kind of one thing. The other thing was you would play all, it was called 'originals' at the time — you would play your originals. We weren't particularly interested in going out and playing a LED ZEPPELIN evening, and we didn't have any songs that were, quote, originals, but at the same time, we were full of spunk and full of piss and full of vinegar and ready to go and wanted to go out and play and interact and sweat and the whole thing. So we basically came up with another way, which was a combination of the two, which was we'll play a bunch of cover songs, but they were all songs that basically nobody knew. So we didn't go out and say, 'Now we're playing an hour's worth of material and they're all our own songs,' and we didn't go out and play an hour's worth of LED ZEPPELIN songs — we went out and played DIAMOND HEAD songs and BLITZKRIEG songs and SAVAGE songs and all these different cover songs. Then we had an hour's worth of material and we played shows all over Southern California, and it was super fun. So we played four or five DIAMOND HEAD songs, and all these other things, and it sort of got us out, got us playing, and we were playing gigs. And then, back in the rehearsal studio, we were writing and working on our new material, and, obviously, gradually, our own material replaced the cover songs. But all those songs, whether it's the 'Am I Evil's of the world or the 'Helpless's or the 'Let It Loose' or songs like 'Blitzkrieg' or whatever, obviously, those songs have remained a pretty big part of who we are."

He continued: "As music fans, we'll always talk about our influences, our inspirations. And I can look you in the eye, and 40 years later, we're still as big fans of the music around us and that we grew up on, that shaped us, and then the music that turns us on today, 40 years later. So we're still incredibly huge music fans, and I'd say even beyond that, fans of film and art and whatever else.

"When I hear a song that really turns me on, often I'll wanna play it," he explained. "So, obviously, paying tribute to the MERCYFUL FATEs of the world or to people like Nick Cave or to the DISCHARGEs or the BLUE ÖYSTER CULTs and all these different bands that have had such a big impact on shaping who we are over the years is a great joy of ours. And, to be honest with you, I've said this before, sometimes playing other people's material, like we do, for instance, when we play the acoustic thing — we've done Neil Young's charity concert a couple, three or four times; we did our own thing last year — we play a lot of cover songs and we love to reinterpret other people's material and give it an acoustic treatment and so on… There's so much great material out there that we just love to play, and then getting a chance to turn our fans on to the stuff that has had a significant impact on us over the years is an additional treat. And then, obviously, turning people on to some bands that they maybe would not know, like, like we said, the MERCYFUL FATEs or the DIAMOND HEADs or even smaller New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands, it's a total bonus. So that's a win-win all around."

Ulrich concluded: "Playing covers, other people's material will always be a significant part of the DNA of METALLICA. And who knows what's ahead of us, but we're always talking about something else that we can do with other people's material, so I would expect that to be a signicant part of who we continue to be."

The 1988 re-release of METALLICA's debut album, "Kill 'Em All", included covers of DIAMOND HEAD's "Am I Evil?" and BLITZKRIEG's "Blitzkrieg", while 1987's "The $5.98 E.P. / $9.98 CD: Garage Days Re-Revisited" was a collection of covers paying homage to a number of mostly underground bands, which were later combined with additional new covers on the two-disc "Garage Inc."

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.

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