METALLICA's Lars Ulrich says that he was unaware of his bandmates' plan to fire him three decades ago, explaining that "it was just not something that was ever on my radar."
The long-running rumor first gained traction in 2009 when ex-METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine revealed it to Rolling Stone, and surfaced again when ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian discussed it while doing press for his 2014 memoir, "I'm The Man: The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax". It was confirmed last November when METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett said an interview with an Albany, New York radio station that the band at one point considered getting rid of Ulrich back in 1986.
Now Lars admits that had no idea of the clandestine plan to oust him from the band he had co-founded with frontman James Hetfield in 1981. "It's certainly not something that I was ever aware of," he tells Metal Forces. "But I can tell you that there's been other times as we've cruised along where there's been some friction with this band member or that band member, and where things were a little awkward with this particular guy, or whatever.
"When you have a collective entity like METALLICA, that's been together for 35 years, there are different times on that journey where the idea of what to do next in a particular sticky dynamic has brought upon different options of different potential resolutions," he continues. "There were times when Kirk was kinda floating out there, and there were a couple of times when Hetfield was kinda floating out there, and there were different times when I was kinda floating out there, so it was very possible. I'm sure Scott Ian knows something that I don't, and I'm fine with that. It was just not something that was ever on my radar."
Lars added that he has not spoken to Kirk Hammett about those recent comments. "No, I make a point of not to read any of Kirk's interviews," he says. "I really don't read interviews. I don't know, the whole thing of 20 years ago sitting there and following what Mustaine is saying this week in Kerrang! and what Bruce Dickinson is thinking about this, and all that kinda stuff — I just don't follow one paragraph of it anymore. I mean, I can't open some of my web pages or check the news headlines or whatever without being aware of the fact Kirk Hammett said this or somebody else says that. Obviously, it's hard to exist in 2016 without some of this stuff showing up on your radar, but I don't read it and I don't follow it."
The dismissal was supposed to happen at the end of METALLICA's 1986 European trek, but the death of bassist Cliff Burton in a tour bus crash sidelined those plans.
Asked about the rumor by Albany station PYX 106, Hammett revealed, "That was just an old thing, you know. I think at one point or another, we were pissed off at Lars, around maybe 1985 or something. We were unhappy and we might have grumbled something to someone. And then that person might have picked up on it and made it something a lot bigger than it actually was. To be completely honest, [Lars] has a lot of drive, and that's a part of the reason why I love the man. His drive and his motivation is just so intense, you know.”
Scott Ian told a Colorado radio station in 2014: "I honestly think it wouldn't have happened. 'Cause, believe me, I've thought about it quite a bit over the years. I honestly think that the tour would have finished and I think cooler heads would have prevailed, maybe, and I don't think the change would have taken place. That's what I believe."
METALLICA recently completed recording its new album at its headquarters in San Rafael, California and has now begun mixing the new disc, which is expected out before the end of the year.
Ulrich told Citizens Of Humanity magazine about the musical direction of METALLICA's long-awaited tenth album: "It definitely sounds like METALLICA. It's probably a little less frenetic than the last record. It's probably a bit more of a diverse record than the last one."