METALLICA's LARS ULRICH Discusses His 'Unique' Drumming Style: 'I've Never Been Very Interested In Ability'
February 20, 2018
In a recent interview with Polar Music Prize, METALLICA's Lars Ulrich was asked to describe his "totally unique way of playing drums." He responded (see video below): "To me, it's always about the song and the band first. And the drums, or the guitars, or whatever else is going on, is just part of the big picture. So what you always have to do is you have to check your ego at the door and do what's best for the song, for the music, for the overall sound.
"What's always the most interesting to me about drumming is how do you fit the drums into what else is going on?" he continued. "How does it work [with] accents and special hits and kind of things that make it more rhythmic or more dynamic or just add a kind of a physicality to it?
"I've never been very interested in ability. 'Oh, wow! This guy is so great!' Yeah, he's so great, but it doesn't mean that he can make it swing, or it doesn't mean that he can make it work within a group or a collective.
"As much as I grew up on people like Ian Paice from DEEP PURPLE, who obviously has a lot of ability, I also love people like Phil Rudd [AC/DC] and Charlie Watts [THE ROLLING STONES], who [have] certainly ability, but, I think, to a lot of purists, maybe not so much, because they're not as technical," Lars added. "But they have a different kind of ability that, to me, is as valuable and as precious and as important in that they make it swing, they make it move, it gives it that physicality that it needs.
"I've always just looked at drums as more of a group instrument. I've never been very interested in playing drums by myself — you know, sitting down in a basement, practicing drum solos for hours at a time, that's not my thing. So being in a band, writing songs, making records, being part of a gang, being part of a band, that's always fascinated me."
Asked in a 2008 interview with U.K.'s Rhythm magazine if he was troubled by the fact that he's gotten a lot of flak over the years from people who accused him of being a poor drummer, Lars said: "It used to, back in the day — and I spent a lot of time overcompensating for that on the early records. But then you wake up one day and you're like, whatever. It hasn't bothered me for about 15 years. I'm no Joey Jordison, I'm no Mike Portnoy, and I have nothing but love and respect and admiration for all those guys. When I hear some of the young dudes, they blow my mind with what they can do with their feet and stuff — but it's not something that makes me go, 'I need to feel better about myself so I'm gonna learn how to do what they do with my feet.' I'm not a particularly accomplished drummer but I am very, very, very good at understanding the role of the drums next to James Hetfield's rhythm guitar. I guarantee you I'm the best guy in the world for that, and that's enough for me!"
As previously reported, METALLICA will receive the Polar Music Prize, a musical equivalent to the Nobel Prize, this spring. The award, which recognizes international excellence in music, will bestow the metal legends with a cash prize of one million Swedish kronor, roughly equivalent to $126,000. The band will donate the money to its own All Within My Hands organization, which aids communities in need with workforce education, food-bank donations and other local services.
METALLICA's February 1 show in Lisbon, Portugal kicked off the 2018 European leg of the group's "WorldWired" tour, which will run through May 11 in Helsinki, Finland.
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame band is touring in support of its tenth studio album, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct", which came out in November 2016.
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