playboy april 2001
interview
Metallica

PLAYBOY: When you stated the campaign against Napster, did you know it would drag on so long?
ULRICH: Didn't have the foggiest fucking idea, no. This whole Lars Ulrich-poster-boy- for-intellectual property isn't something I sought out.
PLAYBOY: Were you surprised when you got booed onstage last September at the MTV Video Music Awards?
ULRICH: I was unaware of it while I was up there. I got offstage, and people were like, "Wow, you handled the booing really well." I was like, "What booing?"
PLAYBOY:That's surprising, because you looked really uncomfortable.
ULRICH: I was kind of drunk. It was the worst awards show, hands down, that I've ever been to. I left, I went out to dinner with some friends and had some cocktails.
PLAYBOY: When Napster creator Shawn Fanning came out in a Metallica T-shirt, they cut to you in the audience, and you looked aghast.
ULRICH: You have to understand, the whole thing was planned. They asked me to present an award to Shawn Fanning. The day before the show, Napster's lawyers pulled him out of it. They thought I would do something rude or obnoxious to him. MTV asked, "Do you have any problem with him walking out in a Metallica T-shirt?". I was like,"Go for it." I knew about all that - I was just pretending to be sleeping. I had my hand over my face, nodding off. It was sort of contrived.
PLAYBOY: What would it take for you to drop your suit against Napster?
ULRICH: They have been inquistitive about trying to settle. The only thing we were after was getting our lawyers fees paid. And we believe they have the ability to block access to whatever band wants it blocked.
HAMMETT: Criticism is something we've always dealt with, since day one. When Kill 'Em All came out, there was nothing like it. When the second album came out, we had slow songs, for God's sake! Even our fans fucking criticize us. We have bulletproof vests on when it comes to criticism. To tell the truth, we feed off it.
HETFIELD: Metallica loves to be hated.
HAMMETT: Love to be hated, absolutely. Even before we were in the band, we were outsiders-so that mentality sits really fine with us.

PLAYBOY: Now that you're superstars-not only on MTV but also on VH1-it's easy to forget how unpopular you were at first.
HETFIELD: When Lars and I hooked up, we liked a kind of music that was not acceppted, especially in Los Angeles. We were fast and heavy. Everything about LAS was short, catchy songs: Motley Crue, Ratt, Van Halen. And you had to have the look. The only look we had was ugly.
PLAYBOY: Hey, but you were not immune to dressing LA style.
HETFIELD: We had our battles with spandex, that's for sure. You could show off your package. "Wear spandex, dude. It gets you chicks!". On the first tour through America, my spandex - I fucking hate saying, "my spandex". It's a pretty evil phrase. They were wet from the night before, and I was drying them by the heater. A big hole melted right in the crotch. It was like, "They're like pantyhose."I just opted to keep my jeans on, and that was the best thing that ever happened. Lars wore spandex up through the Black Album tour; though he might tell you different.
ULRICH: We were very much the outcasts in Los Angeles. The first year or so, it was pretty lonely.
HETFIELD: We did some shows where if our girlfriends weren't there, there'd be no one in the audience besides the bartender. Then a few diehard fans would follow us around, and they became crew members. "Maybe that guy wants to lug some gear around so I don't have to."
PLAYBOY: Where did the medieval, Dungeons-and-Dragons theme on the early records come from?
HETFIELD: Judas Priest was a band we all dug."Oh, he writes about that. OK, then. That's what you do to be metal." Then it got into more, "Let's write about what we do": Whiplash, Hit the Lights and Seek And Destroy, which was just about smashing shit up. We worked at day jobs. After that, we'd throw parties, take the furniture out of the house and smash the joint. We smashed dressing rooms just because you were supposed to. Then you'd get the bill and go, "Whoa! I didn't know Pete Townshend paid for his lamp!" Come back off the tour and you hadn't made any money. You bought furniture for a bunch of promoters.
HAMMETT: We would drink day in and day out and hardly come up for air. People would be dropping like flies all around us, but we had the tolerance built up. Our reputation started to precede us. I can't remember the Kill 'Em All tour-we used to start drinking at three or four in the afternoon.
HETFIELD: Smashing dressing rooms was all booze related. The worst was A Day on the Green. A buddy and I, completely ripped on Jãgermeister, got it into our heads that the deli tray and the fruit had to go through a little vent. "The vent is not big enough. Let'smake a hole!" The trailer was ruined. Bill Graham - R.I.P. - was the promoter. I was summoned to his office. Like, "I have to go see the principal now." He said, "This attitude you have, I've had the same conversation with Sid Vicious and Keith Moon". It was like, "Cool! Oh, wait-they're dead. Not so cool. Maybe I should get my shit together". I realized at that point there was more to being in a band than pissing people off and smashing shit up.
PLAYBOY: James, what did you think of Lars after that first jam session?
HETFIELD: Lars had a pretty crappy drum kit, with one cymbal. It kept falling over, and we'd have to stop, and he'd pick the fucking thing up. He really was not a good drummer. To this day, he is not Drummer of the Year. We all know that. When we were done jamming, it was, "What the fuck was that??" We stiffed him on the bill for the studio, too[laughs]. There were so many different things about him. His mannerisms, his looks, his accent, his attitude, his smell. He smelled - he smelled like Denmark, I guess. They have a different view on bathing. We use soap in America.
ULRICH: American kids, there was this sort of compulsive thing about four showers a day.
PLAYBOY: Well, did you wash?
ULRICH: Often enough for me. OK?
HETFIELD: We ate McDonald's - he ate herring. He was from a different world. His father was famous. He was very well off. A rich, only child. Spoiled-that's why he's got his mouth. He knows what he wants, he goes for it and he's gotten it his whole life.
ULRICH: I'm an only child. I come from about as liberal an upbringing as you can imagine. I traveled all over the world with my father. So, yes, James Hetfield and I come from incredibly different backgrounds. And as we grow older, we probably become more different.
HETFIELD: He introduced me to a lot of different music. I spent a lot of my time at his house, listening to stuff. I couldn't believe the size of his record collection - I could afford maybe one record a week, and he would come back from the store with 20. He bought Styx and REO Speedwagon, bands he'd heard of in Denmark. I would go, "What the fuck? Why did you buy Styx?"
ULRICH: I have an obsessive personality. When I become interested in something, I have to learn everything about it, whether it's Danish chairs from the great modern era between 1950 and 1956, or Jean-Michel Basquiat, or Oasis. When I was nine years old, it was all about Deep Purple. I would spend all my time sitting outside their hotel in Copenhagen, waiting for Ritchie Blackmore to come out so I could follow him down the street.

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