Metallica's Lars Ulrich Answers Reddit Users Questions

On January 30, 2014, Lars Ulrich, Metallica's founder, driving force, mouth piece, and drummer took to the Reddit AMA for a sit down with his harshest critics. . . his fans. Lars Ulrich tends to polarize people, fans of Metallica or not. Either you love him or you hate him. There seems to be no in between. Indeed, Lars is has a strong personality. He says what's on his mind (at that moment). He's wickedly intelligent, privileged, bold, a bit daring, and he's a damn fine businessman. Those are the exact traits that cause people to NOT like him. I'm in the camp of "loving Lars". Every time I've met him he's been polite, funny, caring, and on a few occasions, a bit of a brat; which made me love him even more. Reddit users got to ask Lars any question they chose from the inane to the profane and everything in between. This is just a fraction of what Lars answered - the important bits. 

Asked about songs from the Load/Reload, St. Anger material that hasn't been played live or given "appreciation":

Lars: I think reinterpretation is a very interesting element of your back catalogue. I don't think that
you need to be tied to one particular version of a song. I've always thought it could be
interesting to reinterpret St. Anger in a contemporary live situation. Also we started playing
"Carpe Diem Baby" live last year, which was fun, so lots of unplayed material from that era. There
are lots of those songs that could work again in live settings. It doesn't necessary need to be
stadiums, it could be smaller shows or settings.

Asked about the writing process and where the influence comes from:

Lars: Mostly jamming and seeing where it takes us. Like I've said, Death Magnetic is our obvious
point of reference. Going good for good riffs, good energy, interesting progressions, with a
melodic sensibility.

One fan wants to know if there is any Metallica goodies we haven't heard yet:

Lars: Yes, there's tons of stuff in the vault that hasn't been released, including soundboard tapes,
full videos, lots of goodies to come your way, hopefully sooner rather than later.

What do you think of the state of heavy metal today? Do you think we will ever see another HUGE metal act the likes of Metallica/Maiden/Priest and such? Do you think metal will ever make a resurgence to the glory days of the 80’s? 

Lars: That's a great question. I think it would be so awesome if there was a band that come along and shook it all up again. I just don't know who. I think the coolest band for me in the last couple years is Baroness. I also love Norwegian band Kvelertak. But I just don't know if any of these bands can take it to those heights unfortunately.

My personal favourite question - about the debacle that is Metallica by Request. For Metallica's upcoming 2014 tour, Metallica opened the polls for fans to pick the setlist. All Metallica songs were included to the delight of fan club members. Finally, we thought, we get to hear a unique fun setlist full of challenging music and rare gems. Alas, it is not to be. The causal listener outnumbers clubbers by a significant amount and the voting has proved that a majority of fans want Metallica - the nostalgic act. The songs that are winning in the respective cities are nothing more than a best of... set full of popular over played tunes. Lars' response:

Lars: Obviously, we are going to play what the fans are choosing. That was the whole point of the exercise. Rare songs were not left out at our end. We are as motivated to play them as some of you are to hear them. But in this case, if you, the fans vote for certain songs that we "usually play anyway" then so be it.

On the endless criticism from fans and non-fans: 

Lars: It depends what the criticism is. There are such a wide range of criticisms thrown at you  nowadays because the internet gives everyone an opinion, for better or worse. And some people
just spew crap for whatever reason, which I don't pay very much attention to. I'm also pretty thick-skinned by nature and actually have the ability to find it all a bit silly and laugh at most of
it. But if someone's got a fair critique, I'll certainly pay attention.

Are Metallica working on a new album?: 

Lars:   Yes we have started. Coming along slowly, like everything in our world. But the jams we've done so far have been super exciting and it's gonna be fun putting this record together in the next year.

And everyone's favourite subject
Lars: "No way he's touching this question"...oooh here we go... A couple thoughts: I wish we had been better prepared for the shit storm that we found ourselves in. I don't regret taking on Napster, but I do find it odd how big of a part of our legacy it has become to so many people, because to me it's more like a footnote. I was also stunned that people thought it was about money. People used the word, "greed" all the time, which was so bizarre. The whole thing was about one thing and one thing only - control. Not about the internet, not about money, not about file sharing, not about giving shit away for free or not, but about whose choice it was. If I wanna give my shit away for free, I'll give it away for free. That choice was taken away from me.


To be fair, the point fans keep missing is this... a lot of bands don't own the copyright to their songs, they may write and perform the songs, bu the songs don't legally belong to them. Copyright belongs to the record label. The record company could own that copyright for a good 50 years from the release of the songs. 
Depending on the contract, the band makes about 13%. The lions share 63% goes to the record label. That 13% (again, depending on your contract) - managers get about 15%, lawyers and business managers 5% each, producers about 3% and the band splits the rest. oh, that's IF the band didn't take an advance from the record company, because THAT gets paid back first. That's one scenario - another says that artists can make as little as 7%, an extra 5% if you write the songs, producer 2%, Manufacturing 5%, Label 30%, Retail outlets 30% and distribution 22%. Either way, the band makes next to nothing on actual album sales. Downloading may stick it to the record company, but the biggest hit comes from the band itself.  But that's my 2cents. 

What ever your opinion, you have to admit Lars is good at what he does. He's built Metallica from a dream to a prosperous business and band that pushes the boundaries of what bands should sound like. He's part of a team that challenges themselves and their fans in terms of both aural and visual aspects. Lars and by extension Metallica aren't afraid to take risks and evolve. That is part of their 30+ year staying power.  


timhookoo said…
He also said if he could vote in the "Metallica By Request" poll, he'd pick Frayed Ends of Sanity.

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