Lars On Drumming: “I Usually Feel Like I’ve Regressed”

Posted by on June 27, 2012

photo: Cambria Harkey

Lars Ulrich thinks he cannot get any better at playing drums anymore. He also thinks he’s gotten worse. Ulrich spoke with Drum! Magazine about his drumming skills and all things Metallica. And while the court of metal public opinion about the skinsman has shifted from him being one of the best drummers out there to a somewhat sloppy player with his best years potentially behind him, he doesn’t necessarily disagree. Here are his thoughts on the looser feel of Death Magnetic and his own drumming skills:

I usually feel like I’ve regressed. [laughs] I’m like, “Why can’t I do that anymore?” You know, when I heard these songs a couple of months ago, I thought that it sounded really exciting. I thought there was a really good, lively vibe — it’s a bunch of guys just playing together, and it sounded really full of energy and spunk and liveliness. And that was kind of the whole thing on the Death Magnetic sessions was to try to keep all that energy as preserved as possible. The one thing I’m really proud of with the Death Magnetic album is just how f__king lively it sounds. How it doesn’t sound careful, it doesn’t sound stale. It doesn’t sound, kind of, too cerebral — it’s just physical. It’s just lively and full of spunk and full of people that are playing music with each other, in a room, you know?


On the ‘Beyond Magnetic’ EP that was realeased in early 2012, he says that it was mostly about capturing the vibe of the Death Magnetic recordings and showing that vibe to the fans:

The idea [with Beyond Magnetic] was basically that we had four songs from the Death Magnetic sessions and we wanted to give the 25,000 members of our fan club a 30th anniversary gift. […] And we don’t have anything laying around or left over from back in the day, so the only thing that we had laying around were these four songs from Magnetic, so we gifted them to members of our fan club. And the response has been so positive and so overwhelming that somebody called up and said, “Why don’t you put those out on a conventional CD?” And were like, “You know what? Sure.” We don’t over-think this kind of stuff very much. […] I think we made a bunch of records in the ’90s where the drum tracks were very good, very technical. But what we are doing now on Beyond Magnetic is a little more about capturing a vibe.

On practicing, he says that it is more like a daily run you do  in order to stay healthy rather than trying to get better at something:

What happens is that I just sit down and kind of play to just more stay in shape. You know, Metallica was up to two or three months off last year, and I would sit down, I have an iPod next to my drums so I can play along to all kind of crazy stuff, and try to see if I can land in the same zip code of some of that stuff occasionally. But I can’t say that I sit down to necessarily practice to sort of get better. For most of my stuff, it’s about listening and about interpreting stuff that I’m listening to. So all the kind of sitting down and, you know, “Now I’m going to do thirty-second-note paradiddles standing on my head” — you know what I mean? I don’t do that kind of stuff so much.

In regard to the new generation of speed metal drummers, Lars has moved on as well:

Those guys [the new crop of speed-metal drummers], I think they do something that’s so … that’s not the stuff that I do. Not just not what I do but also not what I’m interested in doing. Their stuff is so technical, and I totally respect it, I admire it, but I’m much more interested in kind of more traditional things, like songwriting and groove and attitude and vibe.

[via Drum! Magazine]


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