METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich recently spoke to The Boston Globe about the group's last studio album, "St. Anger", the "Some Kind of Monster Documentary" and the group's next studio release, among other topics. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
The Boston Globe: How has your new bassist, Rob Trujillo, been working out? He made a pretty good introduction on your Summer Sanitarium tour. And how is his style different from former bassist Jason Newsted's?
Lars Ulrich: "Rob is doing great. He's a real easygoing guy and just rolls with it. And his playing style — no disrespect to his predecessor — but I think Rob is a little more of a traditional bass player in that he lays more of a foundation and a rhythmic thing with the drums, whereas Jason, God bless him, played more with the guitars. . . . And Rob has an incredibly gifted ear. We'll say, 'We're going to play this song we haven't played in 11 years tonight' — and half an hour later he'll know it. And that helps a lot around here because the rest of us don't like rehearsing. We like rehearsing in front of a crowd."
The Boston Globe: I saw the movie "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster", which dealt a lot with smoothing out your relationship with singer James Hetfield. How has that relationship evolved as the tour has gone along?
Lars Ulrich: "We're fine. The movie ended a year and a half ago and we've been able to take that experience and transcend it to a road situation where we don't have the hand-holding from [hired counselor] Phil [Towle]. Our relationship is great, but we do very much our own thing most of the time. We're very different people, but I think we're more respectful of each other and we're better for each other. We don't send each other off. We're more on the same page in terms of what each of us has to do to make METALLICA as stable and functioning and healthy as possible."
The Boston Globe: Looking back on the METALLICA movie, you gave the filmmakers unbelievable access and they had 1,600 hours of footage. No regrets about how it came out?
Lars Ulrich: "I don't have any. I'm proud that we had the guts to go through with it. In the last 10-15 years, everything that METALLICA has done had a tendency to polarize people. We're fortunate that the positives outweigh the negatives, but everybody always has something to say about what we do. But with this movie, it's probably the first thing in a long time where the reception and the opinions on it are pretty universal. Everybody is very positive toward this movie."
The Boston Globe: As for polarizing people, how about your latest album, "St. Anger"?
Lars Ulrich: "It's not the most easily digested record. In a time where radio seems to be going conversative again in the last couple of years — and the NICKELBACKs of the world are dominating it — then when a band like us comes out and does something that's harsh and aggressive, it may be difficult for some people to initially accept it. But I'm glad we did it and I wouldn't change one thing about it. . . . We needed to prove to ourselves that we still had that spunk in us and that we could make that kind of record."
The Boston Globe: Today's radio climate — how much of a concern is that for a band like yours?
Lars Ulrich: "Really, it's not much of a concern for us. If I was 21 years old and an up-and-coming guy, it might be a different story. But we're obviously OK. We're set. And I think if we put out records that radio will play, they'll play them if it sounds like it's not offensive to radio. But if we keep putting out stuff that sounds like a cement grinder — like 'St. Anger' — then they'll probably stay away. To be honest with you, I kind of dig being an outsider again after spending most of the '90s being in the mainstream or whatever."
The Boston Globe: Have you looked ahead to your next record?
Lars Ulrich: "Absolutely. We're going to finish the tour in the next six weeks, then take a long, well-deserved breather. It's been 2 1/2 years — a year to make the record, then a year and a half on the road. But we'll be back to it probably by springtime and look forward to making a record with Rob. It will be interesting. I think we got most of the extreme aggression out on 'St. Anger', so we'll see where this next one takes us."
Read Lars Ulrich's entire interview with The Boston Globe at this location.