“These sticks are an extension of me. They are an essential element of any encounter I have with drums, cymbals, songs, stage, sweat, energy, audience…the list is endless! My musical experience on all fronts depends on these drumsticks.”
The oft-seen and heard dynamo of Metallica, when it comes to arranging all matters from songs to staging, Lars is always at the epicenter. Indeed, constant activity has been a hallmark of Ulrich's life. As a child he saw his father Torben run a small jazz club in Copenhagen (sax player Dexter Gordon is Lars' Godfather) before following the family on the professional tennis circuit where Torben became an established figure.
Lars was nearly 10 when the sounds of Ritchie Blackmore and Deep Purple blew his little socks off at one of the first gigs he ever attended. It began a theme which has been recurrent in his life -obsession with a band- and having bought the 'Fireball' album, he began a Deep Purple love affair which continues to this day. At 13 his grandmother bought him his first drum kit, yet percussion vyed with tennis for priority. When the family moved to Newport Beach, CA in the late '70's, the seeds of priority scattered themselves in his field: girls, rock'n'roll and the occasional funny cigarette were all keys in turning Lars from the wooden raquet to full metal racket. He got so excited about metal music that he jammed a bit with a young lad called James Hetfield before taking a teenage trip to England during June of 1981 to see his newly beloved Diamond Head. He thus managed to finagle living with them for a while before returning to So Cal and the tape-trading he enjoyed with the likes of Metal Blade Records Brian Slagel.
Slagel was looking for bands to record cuts for an album he would release on the label (their first release). Lars got a slot but had no band. Remembering the less-than-awesome yet energetic jams with young Hetfield, Lars called him up and told him about the album. James listened. And thus was Metallica conceived.
These days, some 80-odd million albums worldwide later, Metallica might have undergone enormous collective and individual changes, but the essence of Ulrich remains. He is at once a loyal, attentive and determined person, one who locks in for the long-haul and one who's skin can achieve great thickness. He's also, in recent years, become even more comfortable saying exactly what he believes in regardless of the consequences (as evidenced by his willingness to be the band spokesperson on the Napster issue).
Music now shares the front seat with Lars' three sons Myles, Layne, and Bryce as well as his thriving interests in art and film. Busy? Of course. But would Lars have it any other way? The proof is there for all to see...