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Metallica’s Lars Ulrich Discusses Orion Festival and Spiteful Reaction to ‘Lulu’

Lars Ulrich
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

Love him or hate him, you can always count on Lars Ulrich to not mince words in an interview — and true to form, the Metallica drummer didn’t hold back during a recent exchange with Spin that covered everything from the male-heavy lineup at the Orion Music + More Festival to the overwhelmingly negative response to last year’s ‘Lulu.’

“We don’t go, ‘There have to be x slots for girl-fronted bands, and there has to be somebody from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and we have to find a band where the bass player’s a twin,’” responded Ulrich when asked why Best Coast is currently the only female-led band on the Orion bill. “We don’t have demographic requirements. [Best Coast] write incredibly well-crafted songs.” Asked why it’ll cost attendees $150 a ticket to join in the Orion fun, he pointed out, “It costs close to $10 million to put it together. That’s gotta come from somewhere other than, ‘Metallica’s gonna write a check.’”

When talk turned to the ‘Lulu’ reaction, Ulrich admitted, “It was more spiteful than anyone was prepared for. Especially against Lou. He is such a sweet man. But when Metallica do impulsive riffing and Lou Reed is reciting abstract poetry about German bohemians from 150 years ago, it can be difficult to embrace.”

Ulrich had his own issues with the famously cantankerous Reed in the studio, as he recalled: “One time I had to point something out to him about how things were functioning in the outside world and he got hot and bothered. He challenged me to a street fight, which is a pretty daunting proposition because he’s an expert in martial arts and is never too far from a sword. The good thing about me is I can do the 100-meter dash faster than most other 48-year-old musicians.”

When Spin tried to get Ulrich to name the most embarrassing moment of Metallica’s career, he tried to shrug off the question, saying, “I don’t carry a ‘Five Things I Wish I Could Change’ list around so I can throw them out in an interview.” But he did name one of his least favorite Metallica tracks, saying, “‘Don’t Tread on Me’ has that shuffle vibe. That’s not my thing” — although he was quick to add, “I don’t wish to erase it from all 97 bazillion copies of the ‘Black Album.’”

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