METALLICA Drummer: 'Things Are Real Easy And Borderline Pleasant'

July 15, 2010

Cameron Adams of the Herald Sun recently conducted an interview with METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.

On METALLICA's 2000 battle with Napster, the online music file-sharing site that became the face of the illegal downloading world that has crippled the music industry since:

Lars Ulrich: "It's part of the legacy, for better or worse. The best thing you can do is try to make people understand you're at a point where you're comfortable getting a few laughs out of it. It wasn't a lot of fun 10 years ago . . .

"I'm not going to bullshit you, it was a very difficult time. It's something that still makes me a little uneasy. It was a mindfuck how we got caught up in that whole thing."

On the negative impact file-sharing has had on all sectors of the music industry:

Lars Ulrich: "As you see the demise of all these models that have existed for decades, I don't find any glory patting ourselves on the back saying 'Look, we were right.'

"Other people say that. I try not to say a lot about it. I don't find glory in any of it. It's part of the demise of so much.

"Certainly not so much for us but so many other people have lost their jobs and their ability to depend on music for an income, for their livelihood. Other bands have difficulties getting going because of lack of money for gear or recording. Record companies are signing fewer bands and putting less money into them."

On not being anti-Internet:

Lars Ulrich: "We're responsible for about 10 per cent of Apple's profits each year — our house is a Steve Jobs shrine in full effect."

On the "Some Kind of Monster" movie, which captures the fractured recording of the "St. Anger" album, singer James Hetfield's stint in rehab and the hiring of cardigan-wearing therapist and "performance enhancement coach" Phil Towle:

Lars Ulrich: "Every time I see Noel Gallagher [OASIS] he quotes lines from that movie back to me. That thing has taken on a life of its own. I had to live that shit for three fucking years! The whole thing was a mindfuck.

"I am aware a lot of other musicians seem to have lived a lot of those moments. They weren't necessarily stupid enough to film them like we were and share them with the rest of the world.

"The internal dynamic in this band is so radically different now, it's difficult to relate to that film now. It has a third-person vibe. If I see a clip of it or think about it it's more like something that happened to someone else."

On having a hit video game, their own dedicated "Guitar Hero":

Lars Ulrich: "It's pretty cool to have your own video game when you have a couple of kids who are eight and 11, that helps in the Cool Dad factor. I've sat and played 'Guitar Hero: Metallica' with my kids, that doesn't suck. Any time you get to give yourself more hair and make yourself a little buffer and take away one or two of the chins that's always good."

On METALLICA's appeal to a new generation:

Lars Ulrich: "A lot of kids are getting turned on to our stuff by their parents who grew up with us. Somehow the music from the '80s — METALLICA and MEGADETH and SLAYER and '70s stuff like THIN LIZZY and DEEP PURPLE and BLACK SABBATH — they seem to have a relevance to kids these days. They seem to connect with it.

"Look back to the '90s, the rap rock, nu metal and grunge. A lot of that stuff had more commercial elements to it. I'm generalizing here. Obviously NIRVANA were a great band, ALICE IN CHAINS, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM — sensational — but all the stuff in the wake of that had more of a product vibe to it. For every KID ROCK and LIMP BIZKIT there were 100 clones.

"A lot of hard-rock stuff from the '80s and '70s has sustained and survived in the same way a lot of the stuff from the '90s has been disregarded."

On being relieved there's now no bad blood with METALLICA's former bandmates:

Lars Ulrich: "We've been through too much. That's what survives; all the shit-talking falls to the wayside. It has no real legs. It becomes momentary. The experiences you've had making music will last forever."

On how, after 30 months on the road, fans shouldn't expect a follow-up to 2008's "Death Magnetic" any time soon:

Lars Ulrich: "There is a good vibe in the band now, everyone's having fun and getting along. Things are real easy and borderline pleasant. I know that doesn't sound very rock and roll, but it would surprise me if it'd be a year before we start making a new album.

"I think we'll have three to six months of lying down. There's a good chance the turnaround would be less than it's been on previous cycles. But I've heard myself say that in interviews before..."

On METALLICA celebrating its third decade:

Lars Ulrich: "Thirty years is a pretty major achievement for a band like us who've burned the candle at about three ends over the years.

"The fact we're still somewhat functioning and not only able to put sentences together but play music is obviously some kind of achievement that should be celebrated.

"I'm not sure if that should be done in public or with a quiet prayer at home.

"I'm sure something will come up. Something always comes up. We're not very good at sitting at home."

Read more from the Herald Sun.

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