METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich recently spoke to the Star Tribune about the band's $4.3 million documentary "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster" and the band's upcoming book, "So What! The Good, The Mad and The Ugly", due on August 17 through Broadway Books. Several excerpts from the interview follow:
Q: Are you surprised the movie is shaping up to be a hit, above and beyond METALLICA fans' appreciation of it?
Lars Ulrich: "No. A great documentary is a great documentary. It worked because, like most great documentaries, it's a human story. Whether it's set against the backdrop of a rock band or McDonald's or President Bush or Al-Jazeera or surfing or all the other great documentaries out now, ultimately they're all human stories. These great documentary makers are able to take these stories and humanize them and bring them to a place where people outside of that genre or topic can relate to it."
Q: How are diehard METALLICA fans reacting to the movie?
Lars Ulrich: "Very, very positive. They appreciate that next step, which was us opening up. They appreciate that accessibility. We've always had an open, accessible relationship with our fans, and I think [the movie] was the next step to that — and maybe the last step. I don't know how much more we could open up.
"We made a decision a long time ago to not be like LED ZEPPELIN or KISS, not to be a band with a mystique around it. That comes from our punk roots, and I think this is a continuation of that path."
Q: Some of the most serious parts of the film show the turmoil in James' personal life, and I know there are personal issues in your life now. How much can being in a band — or this band, in particular — be blamed for those problems?
Lars Ulrich: "Great [expletive] question. And you could actually flip that around [he laughs]. You know, is the band where you go when you have those kind of issues? Is it the last sanctuary? There's a great gray area there that's difficult to define.
"Obviously, living this kind of life involves so many things. It's about creativity. It's about breaking the rules. It's about escapism. It's about traveling. It allows so many exaggerated and extreme behaviors that are not tolerated in other parts of society. So the question maybe is, are bands where people go who are already broken?"
Q: In the movie, Rob [Trujillo] has just joined the band and really just keeps his mouth shut and plays his bass. Has that changed?
Lars Ulrich: "Oh, he's a member of this band. When we're in our tuning room on the road, he's jamming and coming up with ideas. He's doing interviews. He's making suggestions on the setlists. He's a godsend, that guy. He's such a big reason for the tranquility and good vibe in this band now."
Q: Tell me about the book the band is putting out next week ["So What! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly", featuring interviews, rare photos and private journals].
Lars Ulrich: "Our fanclub puts out a magazine four or five times a year. It's probably the area where we connect on the most personal level with our fans. We write stories for it, and contribute things that are very personal. Nobody else gets to see it but our fanclub members. Well, we were approached to do a book that would kind of be a 'best-of' from that material. And that's what this is."
Read the entire interview here (free registration required).