Lars Ulrich's drum sound on Metallica's 2003 release on St. Anger have become a hot topic of conversation recently. Producer Bob Rock explained how the sound came to be a few weeks ago, and now Lars has chimed in basically saying he has no regrets.
In an interview with Tone Talk a few weeks back, Rock explained that the sound came from setting up the drums the way the band would do it in the early days. To recap, here is what he said:
"We went to their clubhouse; we were in San Francisco, we went to their Oakland place where they rehearsed with Cliff [Burton]. And we had a great time, and Lars told me about his drums, how they were set up in a certain place.
“We were looking for inspiration, let’s put it this way, because James [Hetfield] wasn’t there, so I said, ‘Pull off the drums, the double kick’ because we were fooling around with other drums. So he set up the drums in the rehearsal room, we were on our way, and Lars just kept staring at the drums. Finally, he sat behind and said, ‘Just give me a snare drum.’ I had bought a Plexi Ludwig snare because I wanted to try it, and he put it on the drum kit, and he said, ‘That’s the sound.’"
So, that's Bob Rock explaining what happened. Now, in a new interview with Lars on Eddie Trunk's SiriusXM show, Trunk Nation, Lars says he stands behind the drum sound on the album.
"I stand behind it a hundred percent, because at that moment, that was the truth.
"Just my personality, I'm always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing. That's just how I'm wired," he continued. "Whether it's Metallica always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I'm doing, I'm just always thinking ahead. Sometimes, arguably, I spent too much time in the future, but I rarely spend any time in the past. And so the only time this stuff really comes up is in interviews.
"I hear St. Anger. That's a pummeling and a half, and there's a lot of incredible, raw energy, and it's, like, 'Whoa!' It's been slapped around a little bit. But the snare thing, it was like a super-impulsive, momentary… We were working on a riff. [James] Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room. And I ran up. I was, like, 'I need to put a beat behind that.' I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on. And then we were listening back to it, and I was, like, 'Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.' And then I just kind of left the snare off for the rest of the sessions, more or less. And then it was, like, 'Yeah, that's cool. That's different. That'll fuck some people up. That sounds like that's part of the pummeling,' or whatever. And then it becomes this huge, debated thing. And sometimes we'll kind of sit on the sidelines and go, like, 'Holy shit! We didn't see that one coming,' in terms of the issue that it turns into."
Lars then doubled down and says he regrets no production decisions the band made, because again, he's always looking to the future. He says "I'm proud of all of those decisions, because I know at that time, they were the truth and it was the instinctive and the right thing to do," he said. "And then, 20 years later, it's, like, 'Well, how would that have sounded if the snare was on?' Or, 'How would that have sounded if we did two instead of four?' I mean, I don't know, but I don't really think about it, to be honest with you, other than when I'm confronted with it in interviews. And I wouldn't change a thing about the past. Of course, how far are you gonna push that? Of course, yes, bus accidents and things like that, of course. But the point of what I'm saying is I just don't spend a lot of time sitting there, going, 'Well, if we hadn't done that,' and, 'If we did this instead…' I'm just always too busy about what we're doing next, and that's just my M.O. And I think all of us in Metallica generally operate like that. So we're just always excited about the next thing, the next thing, the next record.
"I say this often, but people always go, 'What's your favorite Metallica record?'" he added. "My standard answer is, 'My favorite Metallica [album] is the next one, and the next song we're gonna write and the next album that's coming,' because if you don't think that your best work is still ahead of you, why do it? And we're always so excited about the opportunities that lay in front of us."
Ultimately, I respect this response from Lars. Stand by your work! Nothing bums me out more than when a band is promoting a new record by trashing their previous record. It just seems cowardly to me.
Lars stands by his work!
[Transcription via Blabbermouth]