An Interview With Icon Lars Ulrich

The Metallica skin-pounder talks Hulk Hogan, porn stars, and Danish cheese. Rock on!

The Metallica skin-pounder talks Hulk Hogan, porn stars, and Danish cheese. Rock on!

Photo by Martin Philbey / Redferns | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

Metallica were legendary partyers back in the day. Is there any one moment that still stands out?

The recording of The Black Album was probably the most insane on the debauchery front. We were in L.A. for about nine months, at the same time that Guns n’ Roses were recording their Use Your Illusion albums. Los Angeles in the early ’90s was ground zero for any kind of outrageous hard-rock behavior. It all started and ended in the corner booth of the Rainbow Room on the Sunset Strip! It was a pretty crazy convergence: music, alcohol, drugs, debauchery, porn. At that time the porn world and the music world were kind of like bedmates—if you were mixing with anyone other than your own group, it was the porn world. We had a lot of fun, and I have good memories from that time. I’m glad I lived it…and I’m glad I don’t have to live it again.

Hulk Hogan recently said you once asked him to be Metallica’s bassist. What the…?

I think I’ll say: See the previous answer. There are some things that get a bit hazy back there. I have—this is scary—the best memory of any of us, and I still have to file that one under “hazy.”

That could’ve been one hell of a beefy bass line…

Listen, you know me—I’m up for anything! Don’t take my inability to remember as a negative thing. That sounds sensational.

You’re starring in Hemingway & Gellhorn, an HBO movie about Ernest and his third wife. Are you looking to move more into acting?

I don’t know if I’m moving into acting as much as acting’s moving into me. I don’t chase this type of stuff—I don’t have people out scouring the Earth for parts for a drummer in a heavy metal band to star in!

You’re also shooting a 3D film. Is it a concert movie?

It’s set against a concert, but with a narrative going on because, you know, a 3D Metallica movie—that’s a lot for anybody to sit through. I wouldn’t wish that upon your worst enemy.

What was it like filming in San Quentin prison for the “St. Anger” video?

Very intimidating—trust me. It’s surreal being inside San Quentin and looking out at the surrounding area where every morning I drive my kids to school. I now know which chimney is the exhaust pipe from the gas chamber. It’s truly, truly bizarre.

You famously lost a Grammy for best metal performance to Jethro Tull in 1989. What was going through your head when they announced that?

Man, when you’re doing live television, you’re so fucking high, nothing else registers. I don’t think we were really aware of what was going on—we just got shuffled off. “OK, back to your dressing room now, little metal people.”

You’ve expressed some regret about your handling of Napster. Is there anything you’d do differently now?

What I have said was, we were kind of blindsided. It started off as a backyard scrap—it was personal. It was a control issue, then all of a sudden it became like a crusade. There was a little bit of “Huh? Wait a minute, shouldn’t Sting be doing this?”

Is there anything in the Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster you wish had been left out?

I’m definitely guilty of poking sometimes. I’m Danish, and Danish people sometimes like to stick their finger in somebody else’s shoulder and push them a bit. I sometimes think that the metal community is just so fucking serious and up its own ass. Once in a while it needs a little poke, and I don’t mind being that guy. Nobody else seems to do it. Some­times I read, “Oh, Lars Ulrich, what an asshole,” or, “Lars Ulrich can’t play drums.” I laugh at all of that. People sit there and say these awful things in the chat forums. I think it’s really funny when someone sits there and says something that he’s typed with his dick, or some 12-year-old who hasn’t figured out how to jerk off yet is sitting there typing insults about somebody he’s never met. The whole thing’s hilarious.

What do you have in your fridge right now?

Cheese is a big thing in Danish refrigerators: It’s good if you’ve been out drinking till 2 a.m. and need something quick before you fall over, but swallowing a whole Danish fucking cheese raw is not necessarily the best thing when you gotta sit there and drum the next day…