METALLICA's LARS ULRICH Says 'Death Magnetic' Sound Debate Is 'Truly About Tastes'

Shay Quillen of MercuryNews.com conducted an interview with METALLICA's Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich backstage in Fresno on Saturday. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Kirk Hammett on file-sharing: "Our thinking hasn't changed at all. I mean, I think that intellectual property should be protected and respected, and it really is what makes a lot of the things in the whole entertainment industry go around. (Did your legal battle against Napster hurt you from a PR perspective?) It probably did, but you know, a little salt in the cake makes for a better-tasting cake, right? So, we can't always make the right decisions. As far as PR and the way we handled it, we could have handled it a lot better, but we're still sticking to our guns on it. You know, file-sharing as far as music is concerned hurts the audience in a roundabout way that a lot of people don't realize. … People might think I'm an a–hole for saying what I'm saying, but knowing both sides of the equation well, I just have to say, it's convenient in the short term, but it's destructive in the long term."

Lars Ulrich on the "loudness war" and criticism of the mastering of "Death Magnetic": "There's a lot of the rock generation who have aged and who are now in their 40s, and who are still holding on to what was 20 or 30 years ago, and I don't fault that, whatsoever. But obviously compression plays a different role in music and mixing and mastering than it did 20 years ago or 30 years ago. And obviously, MP3s and online services and downloads — it's a different game than it was. So obviously things sound different. You know, there's no right or wrong here. It's truly about tastes, and it's truly about what people prefer."

Kirk Hammett on hanging out in San Jose as a kid: "I have relatives in San Jose. They live off of Story Road. … Actually, I did spend quite a lot of time in San Jose. I was always glad to go down there because it was always much warmer than San Francisco. Whenever my mom would say we're going down to San Jose, I was like 'All right!' because my cousins were always there and they had a pool. I was an urban kid living in San Francisco where it was always cold, and we didn't have a pool. So it was always a fun experience for me."

Lars Ulrich on his love for the Bay Area: "We did form in Los Angeles, but I always considered us a Bay Area band. We had to get out of there. It was too crazy. All that glam stuff and Hollywood horseshit was going on. Ugh. It was nasty. We came up and played a couple of shows in the city, at the Stone, the Mab, the old Waldorf, all those places. Just much more of an open environment up here, obviously. People were much more open to music and individuality and there was much more tolerance, obviously, because that's what San Francisco and the Bay Area is all about. So we were just much more at home here … As a non-U.S. citizen, but a U.S. taxpayer, there is no place I would rather be. If I got tarred and feathered or something, and literally got thrown out — if Gavin threw me out of San Francisco, the greater Bay Area — then I would probably go back to Denmark, because I don't think I could feel at home enough anywhere else in the States to not want to be in Denmark."

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