METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich and former VELVET UNDERGROUND frontman Lou Reed last month spoke to GQ magazine about METALLICA and Reed‘s musical collaboration “Lulu”, which is due on November 1 in North America via Warner Bros. Records and one day earlier (October 31) in the rest of the world through Universal Music. The CD was co-produced by Reed, METALLICA, Hal Willner — who has produced albums for Reed, Marianne Faithfull, and Laurie Anderson, among others — and Greg Fidelman. Fidelmanalso mixed the record. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
GQ: What is it like jumping from a situation where you’re able to fix every little detail on the computer to something like this?
Lars Ulrich: It’s incredibly liberating and also inspiring for the future to know that these kinds of possibilities are out there. Lou walked in with these ten great sets of lyrics. With James Hetfield [METALLICA frontman], the lyrics — and I mean this in the most positive of ways — are usually an afterthought. It’s like, the last few lyrics are being written while the album is being mastered in New York. To have Lou walk in with the lyrics and to give METALLICA a chance to be inspired from lyrics was a gift and such an absolute and total mindfuck. We’re only thirty years into this, so we’re just getting started; for the next four or five decades there’s now other ways of doing it.
Lou Reed: I had this dream of the kind of songs you could do with rock, if you looked at it from the point of view of William Burroughs, or Hubert Selby, or Tennessee Williams, for that matter: “The kindness of strangers.” If you could put together lyrics like that, and have a melody with it, what would happen if you didn’t make it verse/chorus, but you stick METALLICA in there and turn them loose? And that’s exactly what happened: They were turned loose. The sky’s the limit with this shit. I’ve waited forever for somebody to do this. Nobody’s done it.
GQ: Lars said that METALLICA would take a more spontaneous approach to record-making away from this project. Lou, what do you think you’ll bring from this project into your other work?
Lou Reed: After METALLICA, sixty miles an hour won’t do anymore. It’s 110 or nothing. To me, all this stuff’s about feeling. Imagine if it has that power, and you have a line like, “It was the kindness of strangers” or “It was you, Charley.” Imagine if you could do that. I sent it to Lars and the guys and said, “Are you game to do this?” No one knows this from anything — it’s never been recorded. And he got back and said, “I’m really jazzed to try this. We’ve got to try this.”
GQ: Lars, we’ve been talking about how previous METALLICA records have been very polished and controlled. How do you feel in advance of releasing something like this? Is there a fear of what the reception will be?
Lou Reed: A fear, are you kidding?
Lars Ulrich: No, I sense only joy and elation and the excitement of sharing this. I think it’s the most obvious collaboration on this planet ever. It puts a smile on my face every time I read somebody saying, “That’s the oddest collaboration.” Can you think of people that are more suited for each other than METALLICA and Lou Reed?
Lou Reed: It seems so obvious!
Lars Ulrich: That’s what I’m saying. We’ve carved the same path: Lou‘s lived in his own bubble for four decades; we’ve lived in our bubble for three decades. We don’t play to the tune of anybody else. We’re autonomous. We live in our own self-contained musical universe. And we don’t have to cater to any fucker. I can’t think of anybody that’s more suited to each other than these two musical entities.
Lou Reed: We were made to do this together. And it was just obvious when we played “Sweet Jane” together. I had people coming up to me for months and months saying, “You’ve got to record with those guys. Why don’t you ask them?” I said, “I did!”
Lars Ulrich: METALLICA just had to go around the world three times first.
Lou Reed: We just had to find the door.
Lars Ulrich: He said it as we were fucking leaving the bowels of Madison Square Garden. Whenever it was — October of ’09. This is a true story: We were walking out of the elevator. I was going to my car, and he was going to his car. He looked over his shoulder and said, “Let’s make a record together.” I said, “Lou, of course we’re gonna make a record together.” We had to get our “Death Magnetic” commitments out of the way and then cleanse our bodies and our minds for a couple of months. But a few months later, it all came to fruition.
To read the entire interview, go to the GQ web site.