Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet conducted an interview with METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich last month at the band's headquarters in San Rafael, California. A few excerpts from the chat follow below. (Note: All original Danish-language quotes were translated into English by BLABBERMOUTH.NET.)On when the band plans on returning to the studio to begin work on the follow-up to 2008's "Death Magnetic": "There's a really good vibe in the band at the moment. In the past, we would be fed up with METALLICA whenever we returned home after a gigantic world tour, but this time it's different. Therefore it won't be that long before we start working on a new album. I think that we'll probably already get the creative process going in March or April and go into the studio. We really want to get back to METALLICA quickly because we are enjoying it so much right now." On how the relationship between the METALLICA bandmembers has changed over the years: "It helps our relationships that we've all got families and children and they all get along with each other. We really fucking like each other at the moment. There were a few years when things were really bad. We never really got to talk to each other; we would just grab a bottle of vodka and go out looking for girls. That meant that we weren't sharing our feelings with each other. Today we talk a lot about our children and our families. And the fact that we have something to talk about other than tonight's setlist is or if someone made a mistake during yesterday's show makes a big difference. In the last five or six years, we've found out where our limits are and we've made some rules regarding METALLICA. That's been necessary in order to make sure the entire thing doesn't collapse. For instance, we have a rule that we cannot be on the road for more than two weeks at a time during the school year and we make sure that we spend two weeks at home before going back on tour. That prevents us from burning out and falling into the trap that you can sometimes fall into when you are tired and worn out."
On playing 215 concerts in 45 countries in support of "Death Magnetic": "Of course it's still hard to play that many shows, but the older you get, the less you take success for granted. It's beginning to dawn on us that what we have together is very special and that we're not gonna live forever. It's awesome that a bunch if semi-old farts like us can still travel around the world and thousands of people wanna share that experience with us." On the 30th anniversary of his meeting with METALLICA frontman James Hetfield and the band's formation: "It's been totally awesome. When I look back, what I'm most proud of is that we've actually survived, that we've lived through the last 30 years and come out of it relatively unscathed and that we are now able to function as a unit, as people and as fathers. We found solutions to the problems that we've had instead of letting internal squabbles destroy the band, which, for instance, happened to our friends in GUNS N' ROSES." On whether Danish fans can expect to see METALLICA again anytime soon: "The tour schedule hasn't been finalized yet, but as of right now, there are no plans to play Denmark. But let's see what happens. We usually come around every two or three years and our friends from the Roskilde festival also call us every now and then and ask us to play. If it doesn't happen this year, we will play in Denmark in 2012." When asked in a December 2008 interview if "Death Magnetic" was a return to form for METALLICA, Ulrich replied. "I don't agree or disagree with it. The more I hear people say they're back and they're back to form. I sort of sit back and scratch my head and wonder, 'Well, we never went anywhere.' And the last time I checked the last several years have been very successful, sold-out concerts and so on. But then I also understand that maybe somehow we are doing something that is a little more of something that people perceive to be classic METALLICA. It's difficult for me to get into that categorization. For me, it's all one kind of ride or journey or whatever it is. But there's a obviously a lot of good will, a lot of love for METALLICA." Regarding whether the band had an idea of what its wanted to do when it went into the studio, or if it was open to suggestion, Ulrich said, "We were always very open because we were working with [producer] Rick Rubin for the first time. We forced ourselves to be open to see where it would take us. As we started getting more and more into it we started getting heavier and heavier and a little more progressive. But it was not the place we started, it's where we ended." Back in September 2008, METALLICA was the first group to see five of its albums bow at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. Previously, the act was tied with THE BEATLES, U2 and the DAVE MATTHEWS BAND, with four each. "Death Magnetic", which sold nearly half a million copies in the United States in just a three-day sales window, was also METALLICA's fifth consecutive studio album to debut at No. 1 and its seventh release to start with more than 300,000 since 1991, when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking data. METALLICA is one of the top-selling artists of the SoundScan era, with cumulative U.S. sales of nearly 53 million copies. The band's 1991 self-titled fifth album, commonly known as "the black album," in 2009 surpassed SHANIA TWAIN's 1997 record, "Come On Over", as the best-selling CD of the SoundScan era. To date, the black album has sold more than 15.6 million copies.