Australian Metclub chapter For Whom Metallica Tolls recently conducted an online chat with Torben Ulrich, father of METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Q: Torben, the obvious question most people want to ask is, what do you think of the new music you have heard from the guys?
Torben: "The very latest sounds promising, meaning that we've heard a few things they have done in the studio for their upcoming CD . . ."
Q: New and innovative, or back to their roots?
Torben: "Since Lars has played a few things for us, that does not mean of course that that is what we'll hear by the time the record is out, so maybe I will just say that it sounds very promising — and breathing, relative to the more hectic sound of 'St. Anger'."
Q: When Lars missed the Donington show, when did you know he was in hospital, and how worried were you?
Torben: "In some sense, I'm always a little worried, since way back when they were going to rehearsals in our car, and the car might break down, or everyone might break down on the highway, either coming or going, so that kind of worry has been in some sense a constant all these years.
"We were in Denmark when this thing happened and of course had been with Lars a lot and sometimes when we went home to sleep, he would go into the night. So that, speaking of things hectic, you could say that everything is always quite intense once we get back to Denmark, visiting family, friends, and everything, and continuing into the night, and stuff, and into the morning.
Q: Do you think Lars trying to fly back to Denmark after each European gig on that tour was too much to handle? As in, did it put his body under too much strain?
Torben: "Maybe so. But Lars is also so open to so many things once he gets to Denmark, and you know him probably also by now that he has a certain intensity and when that is fired up then he can go on for a long time without realising that he also has to get a little rest and a moment of quiet in between. Particularly when you're not 19 anymore, right?"
Q: Torben, what are your thoughts and feelings about the new producer (Rick Rubin)? What do you expect?
Torben: "First of all I would say that both Molly and I have the utmost respect for Bob Rock and his family for everything that they have done for METALLICA, and I should say for us also, since we visited there with them in Hawaii, when we made the film called 'Before The Wall', so that is also to underscore, if you will, that everyone remains very close with Bob Rock and his family. However, maybe even Bob Rock could see also that here's a moment where something new may open up, which could give maybe, maybe, a fresh approach to things, a fresh interplay between the four musicians and the one sitting in the booth and, in some sense, with either that kind of music or with that kind of an approach that they have taken over the years.
"I think that kind of interplay or interchange is very important, both in terms of intimacy but also in terms of freshness. In the field where I come from, let's call it the history of jazz music, the man in the booth might be important technically but less so in terms of that kind of interplay that I'm talking about, where the improvisational contingencies and the way that the musician would listen to each other might be more crucial."
Q: Torben, Lars gets criticized a lot for his alleged "sloppiness" at live shows. How does he react to this?
Torben: What do you mean sloppiness? In terms of his drumming or in terms of his larger appearance or something?"
Q: In terms of drumming.
Torben: OK, I know that he's always very concerned in terms of asking me after the show what I thought about it and the tempo, and I try to talk about the tempos and I feel there has been stuff that hasn't quite been up to speed, or something, but I think that, I don't quite know that if you think that there's sloppiness. I think that he would be quite concerned if he felt himself that there was some sloppiness there. On the other hand, there also has to be a certain leeway that has to be a little more floating than the music on record, that in itself is one reason to go and listen at the concerts where everything can be a little bit more free and involve more risk-taking. But of course that should not come to mean something sloppy."
Q: How has the band functioned as a whole with Rob in the picture. I'm sure they're getting along. Has Rob brought new life more than Jason did?
Torben: With all the difficulties considered, and the strife and so on, it was sad that Jason could not continue, but maybe it was a relief for him and it seems to me that Rob has added a new dimension of, could I say, of friendliness and lack of friction in psychological terms, and in sheer musical terms I think he has maybe added a kind of bottom that is darker and maybe even more muscular than any bass line that was there before, meaning both Jason and Cliff. And I still think that when they really play they still have that kind of, being in tune, which I really appreciate."
Read the entire chat at www.forwhommetallicatolls.org.ru.