METALLICA's LARS ULRICH: New Songs Are Less Bluesy, More Aggro Than "Load"/"Reload"

METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich spoke to Radio104 WMRQ in Hartford, Connecticut earlier today about the group's much-maligned collaboration with JA RULE (in the shape of the SWIZZ BEATZ track "We Did It Again") and the group's forthcoming studio album, which is currently being recorded in San Francisco for a 2003 release. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

On the SWIZZ BEATZ/JA RULE collaboration:
"It's coming up on a year ago this thing was done actually and… So it's sort of like we have been sitting there waiting.... It really doesn't have much to do with us, it's not our record label, it's not anything, we sort of just gave this guy a couple of riffs and told him to sort of run with it and then we have been sort of playing ball with him whenever he asks. This guy that I'm talking about is this producer named SWIZZ BEATZ and basically what happened, to cut a long story short… About a year ago, he had been producing a lot of like really cool hip hop guys you know, like DMX and all these people and about a year ago they gave him his own record deal and so he was gonna put a record together of like him producing all these like, you know, hip hop cats and all this stuff and his big, like, hard-on was that he really wanted to do like a rock track and have somebody rap over it like a cool rock track and… He called up about a year ago and asked if we would give him an old METALLICA song that he could sort of cut up and do all that kind of stuff with and then have somebody rap over it, and we were like... This was just when we started doing the stuff for the new record and we were like, 'You know what, instead of just, you know, here's somebody rapping over 'Enter Sandman' or 'Sad But True' or whatever, why don't you come to San Francisco and pick out some of the new material that we have been working on?' and he was just like… he couldn't believe it. He basically jumped on the next plane, came to San Francisco, we played him all the new material that we had been working on for the last couple of months and he said I want that and I want that. And we were like, 'OK, cool'. I mean, we were basically letting him have the run of the store. And it was really cool, because it was just sort of like, you know, dipping our toes into just like a whole other world and this guy SWIZZ, he is sooo cool and he is such a sweetheart and he is just so real and none of this bullshit, you know, like 500-member entourage and all that kind of crap. I mean, he's just like a really sweet kid and he came and we let him listen to all the new material and of course we were sort of sitting there going, like an element of like 'What are we doing?', but it was just kind of really cool because we never really… It was just like another dare, you know what I mean? And then he wanted that riff from one song and that riff from another song, and he was like, 'OK, that's it,' and then he went back to New York and he called us about a week later and said he got JA RULE to rap on it and at that time, I mean I think that was even before he had done the JENNIFER LOPEZ thing, this was like in August of last year or something and so he was sort of like one of those cats that was still breaking and he was talking about maybe getting DMX to do it who we were all big fans of and you know, but then we heard some of this JA RULE guy's stuff and it was like that's really cool and then he just did it in the studio in New York and we were like, 'Oh, call us if you need us for anything.' (laughing) And you know about a couple of weeks later me and [producer] Bob [Rock] and [guitarist] Kirk [Hammett] flew down to L.A. and we all mixed it together, but it's like it's really his project. The only involvement we have with it is we basically gave him some of our music and it was basically, instead of like, 'OK, take the chorus from one or the verse from whatever, 'Seek & Destroy',' it was just like, 'How about doing it over some music nobody has heard yet?' and then it sort of got, you know, it was sort of weird because they were talking about putting it out last fall and all this type of stuff and then 9/11 happened and then you know [guitarist/vocalist] James [Hetfield] went away for a while and all this type of stuff and it just sort of got put on the backburner and we were sort of like… 'cause we are always really active in whatever we do and we were just sort of like, it was kind of cool to be part of a project where we did not have to like kind of guide it, you know what I mean? We sort of just sat there and once every couple of months we would get a call from the record company going, this or that or would you approve a master, and we were like, 'Cool!' So I guess it finally surfaced on the internet this weekend, I'm actually pretty amazed that nobody got ahold of it in the last year but I guess it finally surfaced this weekend."

On the next METALLICA album:
"We're working on it right now. I'm down at the studio right now, we start every day at 11, which is two minutes ago, and we have been going… We did a bunch of stuff last summer and then James went away [to rehab] for awhile and now he's back. We started up again about… I don't know… three months ago or something, and we've got, what have we got... probably about 20-25 things that we are working on and we're just working away and we're trying to get it done now as quick as possible. Since James came back, we had a couple weeks off in June and then other than that we're sort of going full board now until it's done. It's sort of like easing our way back into it, but it's... No, I mean easing our way post James being away, you know. We played a gig a few weeks ago and we started doing some interviews and stuff, we just wanted to kind of be real... kinda be left alone, you know what I mean, for awhile after James came back, and now it's starting to feel really good again, sort of talking to people and doing some web chats and all that kind of stuff. [We] played a club show right before we took the break in June and we're working on the record. The last four or five records we have done, it was all about like these deadlines and these tours that we had to go on and this whole kind of a master plan and all that horseshit, and we just want to like make a record and when the record is done we're gonna give it to everybody else and we don't want to sit there with like deadlines and now we gotta, you know, squeeze this in and that and all that, it's sort of like looking back on the late 90s it was just so stressful and I think, you know, everything got so crazy and so… I think, hopefully, and I'm knocking on some wood here, we should be done with this record sometime in the fall, we're gonna sort of basically just keep going full-board now until we're done and when we're done with it, we'll give it to the record company and then they can go out and fuck it up and that stuff (laughing) and then you know we'll do it all over again. But we're working on it, we have a lot of stuff—really heavy, it's once again in a very different place than it has been before, where the main thing we're trying to do is not overthink this. Looking back over the last couple of records, we were just thinking too much, too detail-oriented, too anal, everything had to be so precise and proper and now we're going for more like of a vibe, you know what I mean?! Like a lot of stuff we're coming up with we're just coming up with on the spot, we're recording it on the spot, there's a real good kind of spontaneous, live feel to it and it's really… Once again it sits in a different place, it's very, very heavy, and very… a lot less kind of bluesy than the last few records, a little more aggro, and we're just going for something different once again… I don't know. Ask me in about three months or come out and listen to it or something… I don't know. (laughing)"

To download an MP3 file containing the entire interview, click here.

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