Former DREAM THEATER and current THE WINERY DOGS drummer Mike Portnoy has told Classic Rock magazine that the best lesson he learned from another musician was something he observed from METALLICA's Lars Ulrich. He said: "Lars and I were doing an autograph session together for Tama drums, as we both had signature snare drums coming out at the same time, and he's in one of the biggest bands of all time, so I figured he'd be the type that wouldn't even look up and push the line along as quickly as possible, but he was actually the total opposite. He was so completely gracious with each and every person, and he'd look every single one of them in the eye and spend a few minutes asking them questions. That was a tremendous lesson for me. I've done signings with guys that are in one-hundredth of the band that METALLICA is, and they’ve had attitudes and wouldn't give fans the time of day. But watching one of the most famous drummers in the world have that kind of attitude, even after all these years, was really inspiring to me."
Portnoy told Sticks For Stones last year that had "a tremendous amount of respect for Lars" as a drummer "even though [Ulrich] takes a beating in the drum community." He explained: "To me, his value is not necessarily in drumming, but it has to do with him being a part of a musical revolution that he was a huge, huge part of starting. He's been a tremendous asset to METALLICA, not only as a writer, but as a businessman and his abilities to market things and his ability to arrange music and his performance on stage — he's a very animated player on stage. And to me, I would rather watch somebody like Lars Ulrich on stage than one of these technical drummers that can do quadruple paradiddles at 240bpm. To me, that's boring. Who cares about that?"
He continued: "I'd rather be entertained and go to a show and watch a drummer and have somebody that makes me actually smile. So I don't judge drummers based on their technical ability; I judge them based on the overall package and what they bring to the music they're part of. And what Lars brings to the music of METALLICA is absolutely invaluable. So I could care less if his meter might be slightly up and down, or if his fills are slightly sloppy; I don't care about that. To me, there's way more to being a good drummer than precision and technique."