METALLICA's LARS ULRICH: I've Always Admired DAVE MUSTAINE

In honor of the hugely-anticipated "Big Four" festival in Indio, California on April 23, Revolver magazine has put out the "Big Four" special collector's issue, chronicling the history of thrash metal's most legendary bands. The magazine is on newsstands now, as well as available online here. While making the issue, Revolver talked to some of the "Big Four"'s most heralded musicians, including METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich. A few excerpts from the magazine follow below.

Revolver: Lars, how much attention did you pay MEGADETH early on?

Ulrich: I don't remember getting into that first record, but when "Peace Sells" came out in '86, it just blew me away. That was right up my alley. That literally became my favorite record for a long time. Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH mainman and former METALLICA guitarist] would come up and play San Francisco a lot. And I would always go find him, and we would drink and do lots of drugs and sit around. For those years, '84, '85, me and him got over our issues really quickly at that time.

I remember at the "...And Justice For All" tour, we played down in Irvine Meadows [near Los Angeles], and Dave came down and hung out at the last couple of shows at the "Justice" tour. This might have been '89, and we'd just hang out. I remember actually when we finished the "...And Justice For All" album in L.A., in the summer of '88, I went to some apartment and played it for him at 5 in the morning. We were sitting there, playing "Blackened" and a bunch of other stuff while we were busy keeping ourselves awake. Me and Dave had kind of a friendship and cool thing going at that time, up through most of the '80s.

It wasn't until both bands started getting bigger that this whole kind of thing started happening in the press, which was really kind of different than what we had going between us. There was almost like two relationships there. The press loved the whole MEGADETH-METALLICA [rivalry]. And I sort of think it got a life of its own. And in some way, you could argue that the thing press was doing, about setting our bands up, eventually started kind of transcending itself into our personal relationship and probably became a big part of the fact that over the '90s, it got a little frosty at times. You know what I mean?

Revolver: When do you feel you rekindled your friendship?

Ulrich: Dude, it's been so on and off over the years. We played a bunch of shows with them '93, towards the end of the "Black Album" cycle, where they played with us in Europe, where we were very close again for a while. We hung out again in, fuck, I think '99 at Milton Keynes, in England. And I think Dave came up and was kinda on a promotion tour of his new record, and he came up and hung out at the show and I remember him playing songs off "Risk". We would always hang out when we were in the same city.

The time where it got the chilliest, where there was an obvious stop in communication, was after [the METALLICA documentary] "Some Kind Of Monster" came out, and that whole thing with that scene in there, which we don't have to go into. [Referring to the encounter between Ulrich and Mustaine, who was kicked out of METALLICA in 1983. The meeting took place on September 13, 2001, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco, California, and was refereed by band therapist Phil Towle. — Ed.] That stopped for about four or five years or whatever.

But other than that, up through the '90s, we would see other here and there. We would hang out. It would be all good. There were just two parallel trajectories. There was this big METALLICA-MEGADETH thing in the press, and then there was Lars and Dave hanging out, kind of doing their thing on the side, which was at times a little odd. You'd go, "Wait a minute. I'm supposed to not like this guy 'cause that's what's in this week's Kerrang!" It was kind of weird.

Revolver: Obviously things are on the up and up now. One of the most touching parts of the bonus documentary on the "Big 4" DVD is when you tell Dave how much your son loves his band.

Ulrich: Myles, my oldest, is a huge MEGADETH fan. And for a while. a couple of years ago, on the commute to school, we'd go through these phases, whether it's RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE or SYSTEM OF A DOWN. And there was a phase where we were listening to a lot of MEGADETH. And his favorite song was "Hook In Mouth" [off "So Far, So Good... So What!"]. So there was a while there, three or four years ago now, where basically I would wake up in the morning and get my kids ready for school, and get in my car at 7:40 in the morning and start blasting "Hook In Mouth" for the morning commute to school there. [Laughs] Sort of a different vibe from 15 years earlier.

On members of the four bands — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX — getting up on stage at jamming on DIAMOND HEAD's "Am I Evil?" in Sofia, Bulgaria in July 2010:

Ulrich: There was a time, sure, when there was a competitive edge to all of us, but I really don't feel that anymore. No matter how much anybody will push it in the press, or how many people don't buy it, I can tell you hand-on-heart that there's no competitive edge. It's not a bunch of 27-year-olds trying to see who's got the biggest dick. ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, SLAYER, METALLICA, we all kind of have our own little niche, our own little unique place. So it's not sorta like, Who's better at this? 'Cause at the end of the day, we all do our own thing. And when it comes to drums, Dave Lombardo [SLAYER] is, by far and away, God. There's no competitive edge, but if there was, Dave would win. Lombardo could kick the rest of our asses with just a whip of his little finger. So there was no competitive edge. That's the thing that I can truly say is the biggest difference now.

If someone had said 15 years ago, "Let's try and do this," people probably would have sat there and grumbled over this and that. But now, all four of us do our own thing, and we celebrate the fact that everybody's unique and individual. And maybe it kind of just took everybody going through what we've all been through getting to this place. I don't know if it would've been possible 20 years ago.

Revolver: Lars, what was it like for you to be playing with Mustaine again?

Ulrich: It was great. Listen, I've always admired him. He's an incredibly talented musician. Playing with him, it's not awkward. It was one of those moments you want to slow down. It was cool to see it again when I looked at the DVD. You could tell there was just a good vibe. And I hope that people kind of relate to that.

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