METALLICA's LARS ULRICH: Asking Ourselves 'What Does The Fan Want?' Is 'A Lost Cause'

September 29, 2014

METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich says that his band's isn't bothered by the negative feedback it has received for some of the unusual choices it has made in its career, explaning that constantly trying new things is what has kept METALLICA fresh and exciting more than thirty years after the group's inception.

METALLICA, which has sold some 110 million albums around the globe in its career, has been praised and criticized for pursuing a number projects that had never been attempted by a metal band before, such as their influential 1999 collaboration with the San Francisco Symphony (documented in the CD/DVD "S&M"),2011's maligned "Lulu" CD (a joint effort with Lou Reed that many rank among the worst albums ever made) and 2004's revealing band documentary film "Some Kind Of Monster".

Asked if there is anything "off the table" for a band like METALLICA, Ulrich tells Billboard magazine:"Increasingly in our career, absolutes don't play a role. The minute we have a conversation about 'what does the fan want?' we stop ourselves, because it's a lost cause. If you put 20 METALLICA fans around this table, they're going to tell you 20 different things. We really turn the conversation inward: 'What are we comfortable with? Is this something we feel we can get behind?' It's not about selling out, but whether it's selling our souls. As you lay in bed every night, [you ask yourself], 'Do I feel good about the choices I made?'"

During a 2012 radio interview, Ulrich expressed a similar sentiment while speaking about the criticism METALLICA received for its "Lulu" collaboration with Reed, which has sold only 33,000 copies in the United States since its November 2011 release.

"Obviously, it's fantastic that the Internet gives everybody access to voicing their opinions, and I think it's an incredible medium to communicate and to bring the world closer," he said. "But, obviously, as an artist, or somebody who is creating something, you've gotta be careful how deep you dive into what everybody's talking about, because it could really screw with your mind. I've always been in a place where I'm pretty thick-skinned, so it doesn't bug me that much…"

Ulrich recently explained that the outrage sparked by METALLICA's appearance at this year's edition of UK's Glastonbury festival was a positive thing because it meant that the band was still considered to be relevant. He told the BBC Radio 1's "Rock Show": "The fact that everyone's got an opinion I'll take as a good thing because it means that people still care and are still interested and we still have one foot in relevance of some sort. It's comforting that 33 years into a career you can still manage to stir up a little bit."

METALLICA's performance at the Heavy Montreal festival in early August marked the sole North American date on the "Metallica By Request" tour, which hit Europe and South America earlier in the year. The trek featured the band playing 17 songs requested online by fans in each city, with the final slot in the set list taken by a new song, "Lords Of Summer".

METALLICA will reportedly be working on its 10th studio album throughout the rest of this fall for a tentative 2015 release.

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