Back in 2021, Gojira drummer Mario Duplantier came to the defense of the oft-criticized Lars Ulrich, praising the Metallica drummer as a “genius” for his showmanship and rock-solid presence behind the kit.
Duplantier doubled down on that sentiment in another interview this year, saying, “We need to bring some justice for [Ulrich] … I’m a bit tired of seeing all this conversation about Lars because what he did create is quite unique. Listen to …And Justice for All. It’s amazing.”
While speaking with Ulrich for Consequence’s just-published Metallica cover story, we asked him what he thought about Duplantier calling him a “genius,” and the Metallica drummer opened up on his larger philosophy as a musician. For Ulrich, it’s never been about flexing skill.
“The goal has never been genius,” Ulrich said. “If there’s one constant, it’s certainly not landing in the place of genius; it’s landing in the place of doing the best thing for whatever Metallica song we’re in the middle of… setting up the pocket, as we call it, or the bounce, the groove, the swing, the swagger.”
He continued, “Whatever the perceptions of the word ‘ability’ is, especially in hard rock and heavy metal… the word ‘ability’ is much more a part of the dialogue and the language and the criticisms than in other music forms. I can tell you that anything associated to the word ‘ability’ interests me less and less, as I get older, and the whole notion of showing off or the ‘look what I can do,’ and beat my chest and all that stuff.”
Ulrich went on to cite drummers he admires who are not necessarily known as speed demons behind the kit. “I’ve said over the years, people like [AC/DC’s] Phil Rudd, people like [The Rolling Stones’] Charlie Watts, or people like Clive Burr from Iron Maiden, guys who are [known for] swing and swagger, is as equal or more important… it’s often easier to play fast than it is to play slow.”
He concluded, “I guess for me, I’m just more interested in landing where what the song needs than ‘look at what I could do with backwards paradiddles standing on my head, dangling from the ceiling’ or whatever.”
Metallica are set to drop their new album 72 Seasons next Friday (April 14th). Fans can also catch the band when they launch their 2023-2024 “M72 World Tour” later this month. Get tickets here.
Read more from Ulrich in our full cover story. And stay tuned for our review of 72 Seasons.