Could we see a new album coming from Metallica after shelter-in-place is over? According to drummer Lars Ulrich, it’s a definite possibility.
Ulrich joined Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Tuesday (28) for a live streamed “fireside chat” to discuss how Metallica’s non-profit, All Within My Hands, was giving back during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as how the band is communicating while so far apart. In the interview (transcribed here by Blabbermouth.net), he mentioned that the band continues to talk weekly about their future. Said Ulrich,
“We’ve been sitting around in the last four to six weeks and having numerous conversations. The four members of Metallica connect via Zoom once a week, and it’s great to connect. All four of us are, obviously, in four different locations in four different states right now. But one topic of conversation on these weekly Zoom sessions is what does it look like going forward? What will the next couple of months look like? What will the rest of the year look like? And what will, obviously, say, the next decade look like in terms of how do we create, how do we write music, how do we record music, how do we share music, and how is it all gonna look with the uncertainties ahead of us.”
According to Ulrich, the band is usually years ahead in their planning and the pandemic threw a wrench of uncertainty into it. He continues,
“I think for people like myself, for people in the band, for people in our organization, we can get very comfortable with knowing everything that’s in front of us. I could pretty much walk you through what the rest of my 2020 looked like, I could start walking you through what my 2021 looked like. We planned everything years ahead. We know where we’re gonna be — our calendars and our iPhones are full of all these appointments and all these places we have to travel and so on. And I think it’s a great lesson for people like ourselves who like to steer and be on top and control every element of our existence that, all of a sudden, we are sitting here now for the first time in memory not knowing what does the rest of 2020 look like.”
Like most artists, Metallica’s touring schedule has been upended by the pandemic. The band’s tour of Latin America, which was scheduled for this week, was postponed until the winter. They were also originally supposed to play four Danny Wimmer Presents festivals (Epicenter, Welcome to Rockville, Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life), however all of them have been cancelled. “I’ll have to say, as you and I sit here, I don’t know what the rest of those rescheduled dates will look like,” says Ulrich. “I hope, obviously, that we can come out and play and that we can connect and we can bring people together in these situations through music, but you and I both know, and everybody listening in and watching knows that there’s a significant chance that none of those dates are gonna happen, because the idea of bringing tens of thousands of people together in concert settings is maybe just not the right idea for the health and safety of everybody in 2020.”
With touring at a standstill, the conversation then circles to the urge to be creative in these times of uncertainty and the “silver lining” of new technologies that will help it along:
“Right now, as everybody who has creative juices flowing through their veins, they’re being challenged to try to come up with new ways to be creative, and I think that those are wonderful takeaways from the devastation that’s happening all over the world at the moment.”
“Everywhere in the world of not just music, but in the world of anything entertainment — obviously, film, theater, art; anything that has to do with creativity — I can guarantee there are thousands of conversations right now [about] how do we make records? How do we make filmed entertainment? How do we make art? How do we share it with this new paradigm that’s happening? What can it look like on the other side of the new normal? Even if you bring it into our world, the people that make all the software and all the stuff that all use to record are sitting right now trying to figure out how Lars and James (Hetfield) and Kirk (Hammett) and Rob (Trujillo) can make a Metallica record from four different locations in four different states. And that’s something that we’re obviously circling and very excited about…”
That particular statement begged Benioff the question, will there be a new Metallica album after all this? Ulrich says that depends on how long shelter-in-place lasts:
“A lot of that will, obviously, have to do with how long stay-at-home orders stay in place. A lot of that will have to do with if there’s a second wave of the virus. Who knows what our world will look like six months from now? But, obviously, the one thing that you can depend on with creative people, for better or worse, is that they can’t sit still for very long. And I can tell you that on these weekly Metallica Zoom sessions, we are talking about how we can just be a band again. And there are many different phases to being in a band, but the most basic one, and certainly where it started 37 years ago, is to just have four guys playing music together. The fact that it ends up being shared all over the world and connecting with millions of people, that’s much later and a whole different thing. But at its core essence is just four guys in room, or connected via Zoom, making music together. And I can tell you that all four of us are really excited about what that could look like. So, will there be a Metallica quarantine record? I can’t tell you, because, again, I don’t know how long the quarantine will last. But if you and I and the rest of the world are sitting here six months from now or a year from now, I’d say there’s a very good chance.”
The full nearly hour-long interview can be found on the Salesforce Facebook page.
Metallica released their latest album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, in 2016. Since the pandemic ended touring, the band started the “Metallica Mondays” series, where once a week they stream a full live show from their archives.