Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich spoke with Japanese music critic and radio star Masa Ito of TVK's Rock City in regards to the bands evolution over their 40+ career. After all of the success with ups and downs along the way, the Hall of Fame drummer shares the fact that he is absolutely happy about where the band is right now, and that he is proud of their latest album 72 Seasons.
"I think within Metallica there's always been a desire to keep exploring and to keep moving forward and to keep trying different things. I think that's a journey that has been going on for 40 years. At different times on that journey, there's been more rocks and stones turned over and there's been more exploration done and more curiosity, and at other times we've played it close to the vest," says Ulrich.
"There's been times where we've been running away from the past. There's been times where we've been doing the exact opposite or different of what the previous album was. So at different times over 40-plus years, that journey zigzags into different extremes, but we've always tried to not do anything other than what was in our hearts and our minds and our souls and the best of our instincts at that time, which is to make the best music that's representative of the headspace and the emotions of that time."
Metallica rose to popularity in the early and mid 80's with their unique thrash metal sound. In the midst of their rise tragedy struck when their then legendary bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident while the band was on tour in Europe. After adding bassist Jason Newstead the band went on to have huge success with their album And Justice For All. Metallica went on to record with producer Bob Rock who had recently at that time worked with Motley Crue. The album Metallica also known as the Black Album became Metallica's biggest hit album to date selling millions of albums around the world.
"Sometimes, like I said, we may have gone too far; other times we may have not gone far enough. But we never felt an obligation to the past. We've been inspired by the past, but we've always wanted to continue on a forward path. And I think that this record is part of that, and I'm very proud of this record in that sense" says Ulrich.
Metallica like the drummer says that "they always write from the heart" saw a turning point with fans with their controversial albums Load and ReLoad. During this era for the band Metallica also found themselves in a high profile court case against the file sharing company Napster. Fans around the world smashed the bands records and true die hard fans of the band did not approve of the latest recording efforts. Metallica had also record S&M a live album with the San Fransisco Symphony conducted by Michael Kamen.
Metallica returned to record St. Anger without Newstead in the early 2000's as he left the band due to conflicts between his side project Echobrain and Metallica which is detailed in the documentary Some Kind Of Monster. Even though the record went No.1 in countries all around the world, the bands fans were divided about the songs and production. Metallica at this point were no stranger to change and controversy. They flagged on to record Death Magnetic, Lulu, Hardwired-To Self Destruct, S&M 2, and now 72 Seasons all repeating monumental success for the band.
Ulrich goes on to say "I can talk about this every time there's a new record. I don't know what my relationship with 72 Seasons is gonna be in a year from now or two years from now or five years from now or 10 years from now, but I know that at this point it feels very good. I've had this record in my pocket for, I guess about six months now, and when I listen to it, it sounds and feels really good and I'm very proud of it and I'm very happy and looking forward to sharing it with the world in its full extent."
Ulrich goes on to discuss Metallica's M72 world tour, which will feature two-night stops in 22 cities. Presented worldwide by Liquid Death and Blackened American Whiskey (in North America only) and promoted by Live Nation, the 46-show trek launched in Amsterdam on April 27 and will include shows all over Europe and North America through 2024. Each No Repeat Weekend on M72 will feature two completely different setlists and support lineups.
Ulrich comments on the M72 World Tour: "It's definitely exciting, definitely a little crazy. But it's fun spirited, of course, and a little overwhelming, to be honest with you. The concept was born out of a gentleman named Danny Wimmer who runs a series of festivals in America. And I guess about four years ago now, he came to us and asked us if we would play six or eight of his festivals, and we would bookend the festival. We would play Friday and Sunday, and somebody else would play Saturday. And we would play Friday and Sunday — completely different sets — and bookend the festival. That sounded interesting, unique and crazy cool, so we said yes. And we had six, seven, maybe eight of those scheduled for 2020. Then the pandemic and lockdown came, and obviously that all went away. By the time we circled into the fall of '21, we went out and did three of those. And it was fun. We survived it. And it felt like it connected with an audience. And for us, it was an opportunity to do kind of a blank canvas experiment of just starting completely over, which is always fun and appreciated in the Metallica camp. So when we were trying to figure out for the next record, we thought this concept of going around the world and playing two nights in every city and doing this would be fun."
The drummer concludes "So, here we go. 'No Repeat Weekend'. We're not repeating any of the songs from one show to the other. It seems like a really good idea. It's also, obviously, gonna be a big undertaking. But I think it will be fun. I think the buzz is good."