LARS ULRICH On METALLICA’s Infamous ‘St. Anger’ Snare: ‘I Stand Behind It 100%’

Lars Ulrich

During a Yesterday’s (July 29) appearance on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk,” Lars Ulrich  talked METALLICA, 2003’s St. Anger and the controversial snare sound on the album.

When asked if he still stands behind the sound, Ulrich replied: “I stand behind it 100% because, at that moment, that was the truth — just my personality, I’m always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing. That’s just how I’m wired.

“Whether it’s METALLICA always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I’m doing, I’m just always thinking ahead; sometimes, arguably, I spent too much time in the future, but I rarely spend any time in the past. And so the only time this stuff really comes up is in interviews.

“I hear St. Anger — that’s a pummeling and a half, and there’s a lot of incredible, raw energy, and it’s like, ‘Woah!’ It’s been slapped around a little bit, but the snare thing, it was like a super-impulsive, momentary… We were working on a riff. [James] Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room, and I ran up; I was like, ‘I need to put a beat behind that.’ I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on.

He continued: “And then we were listening back to it and I was like, ‘Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.’ And then I just kind of left the snare off for the rest of the sessions, more or less. And then it was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. That’s different. That’ll f*ck some people up. That sounds like that’s part of the pummeling,’ or whatever. And then it becomes this huge, debated thing.

“And sometimes we’ll kind of sit on the sidelines and go like, ‘Holy sh*t! We didn’t see that one coming,’ in terms of the issue that it turns into. I’m proud of all of those decisions because I know at that time, they were the truth and it was the instinctive and the right thing to do. And then, 20 years later, it’s like, ‘Well, how would that have sounded if the snare was on?’, or, ‘How would that have sounded if we did two instead of four?’

“I don’t know — but I don’t really think about it, to be honest with you, other than when I’m confronted with it in interviews,” Lars added. And I wouldn’t change a thing about the past. Of course, how far are you gonna push that? Of course, yes, bus accidents and things like that, of course. But the point of what I’m saying is I just don’t spend a lot of time sitting there, going, ‘Well, if we hadn’t done that,’ and, ‘If we did this instead…’

“I’m just always too busy about what we’re doing next, and that’s just my MO. And I think all of us in METALLICA generally operate like that. So we’re just always excited about the next thing, the next thing, the next record.

“I say this often, but people always go, ‘What’s your favorite METALLICA?’ My standard answer is, ‘My favorite METALLICA is the next one, and the next song we’re gonna write and the next album that’s coming.’ Because if you don’t think that your best work is still ahead of you, why do it? And we’re always so excited about the opportunities that lay in front of us.”