David Fricke of RollingStone.com spoke to Lou Reed and METALLICA about their unlikely musical collaboration, "Lulu", which is scheduled for release on November 1 in North America via Warner Bros. Records and one day earlier (October 31) in the rest of the world through Universal Music. The CD was co-produced by Reed, METALLICA, Hal Willner who has produced albums for Reed, Marianne Faithfull, and Laurie Anderson, among others and Greg Fidelman. Fidelman also mixed the record. The 10 songs are Reed's harrowing examinations of sexual taboo and moral peril originally composed for a new Berlin production of works by the German expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind. But "Lulu" is a true collaboration: METALLICA wrote new riffs and arrangements and recorded almost everything, including vocals, live with Reed in this studio.
"They're as powerful as you can get," Reed said of METALLICA. "The drums are no joke, and Hetfield is like that." Reed pounded a hand on his heart. "Then you have lyrics that are high-octane. It's so easy, because we're not trying to change anyone."
"It wasn't 'This is my shit, do as you're told,'" Ulrich confirmed. "Lou understood we were going to give him something nobody else would." "Lulu" "is almost like two languages," Ulrich said. "We have m-e-t-a-l in our name. But we can go fucking anywhere and do anything."
"Lou and us we're kindred souls," METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett said. "We both have a clear vision of what you should sound like and say. Also, he has an edge that totally fits. He speaks our language, slightly sarcastic and blunt, like another pea in the pod."
Ulrich recalled listening with Hetfield to Reed's original "otherworldly" tapes, featuring spare guitar and long drones on cello and an electronic instrument, the Continuum, played by Reed and Sarth Calhoun, a member of Reed's band.
"He was defensive, ready to roll his eyes," Ulrich said of Hetfield's initial response. "Then you could see this weight lifted off his shoulders. He felt a connection. He had not expected that."
According to Ulrich, "Lulu" has had an effect on the writing for METALLICA's next album. Instead of starting with riffs, "James is talking about bringing lyrics in first," the drummer said. "What happens if the music is inspired by that?"
A few days after "Lulu" was mastered, Ulrich described listening to the album on a late-night car ride. "I was overwhelmed," he confessed. "I also felt, 'This is really unique.'" How unique? He laughs. "This makes [METALLICA's 1988 LP] '...And Justice For All' sound like the first RAMONES album."
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