On the last night of METALLICA's massive "Death Magnetic" tour in December 2010 in Melbourne, Australia, Marcus Teague of The Vine conducted an interview with METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich exclusively for So What!, the official METALLICA fan club magazine. A couple of excerpts from the portion of the chat that did not make the magazine follow below.
The Vine: It's the end of two and a half years touring behind "Death Magnetic". Have you learned from it?
Lars: I'm sure I will. [Once we're finished touring] I have a tendency to...first I get practical and then I get emotional. So right now, I have a list in my pocket of things to do today. You know, stack up on unused passes from the production office. Remember to give the crew guys their bonus checks. Remember to thank the hardcore fans for travelling. Remember to pick my nose and whatever else. I'm sure that on the plane back tonight or in the next couple of days...it always gets a little more unreal. Like, a week later, when you get home and it's like, "Woah. I'm not going back out there for a while. I'm not going back out on that stage. Next time we go do something it will be [for a new record]." So I think on a serious note, looking back on the last couple years, it's been such a positive experience.
The Vine: Has playing the "Death Magnetic" songs in amongst your back catalogue made you understand the record in a different way?
Lars: I would say the main thing the last two years have done for "Death Magnetic" is made me appreciate it even more. And this is coming from a guy who has not always had a great relationship with [our] records once they're done. There's been a lot of questions, a lot of raised eyebrows, a lot of "What were we thinking?" And that has sometimes set in rather quickly. Every record's always been a very compulsive, momentary, instinctive kind of thing. A very pure thing. But in the wake of that, three months later or six months later, it's always like...you sit there and go, "What the fuck were we thinking?'. But with "Death Magnetic", which we finished about two and a half years ago, I can definitely tell you that we've never had a record that has been appreciated by members of the band — at least speaking for myself — for as long as "Death Magnetic". I heard three or four songs in the car while I was home on the last break [from touring]; it still sounded amazing. I was listening to one of the songs earlier just to check on something that we have to play tonight, and it still sounds great. Two and a half years later. It just blows my head off. So I can absolutely tell you that there's no METALLICA record that's stayed in such a positive light as "Death Magnetic" has for me. Which is a good thing. It also makes me a little wary about it. As we're sitting there thinking about the next record [laughs].
The Vine: James [Hetfield] told me he has 800 and something new riffs on his iTunes.
Lars: We'll see how it plays out. I look forward to getting back and creating, I look forward to just getting back and playing. I look forward to getting back to that side again. We started working on "Death Magnetic" five years ago this month. And we spent a lot of time and put a lot of effort into that record, and it was certainly worth it,. But I don't take for granted that we can top it — I will set out to top it. I hope we can — but it's a motherfucker of a record. So we'll see how it plays out.
The Vine: It must be encouraging in that, arguably, that record was celebrating your history. And it's been so well received, comparatively.
Lars: Oh, yeah. The best thing about those songs, in a live situation, is how effortlessly they all slot in with all the older stuff.
The Vine: There must be kids that are getting "Death Magnetic" first. And going back.
Lars: Sure, it's worked out rather well. I never expected it to work out quite that well. I think there's always been — sometimes been — a borderline elitist reluctance to embrace the new records from some fans. Because if you embrace the new records in some way, it's [somehow perceived] as a diss on the old stuff. Which I've never quite been able to understand. But this record has really been embraced by the fans, it's probably the most openly embraced METALLICA record since the first four.
Read the entire interview from The Vine.