METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich discusses what he would have to do to be able to play RUSH songs with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
Lars made an appearance on SiriusXM‘s “The Howard Stern Show” this past Monday (November 28) and discussed his participation in the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows back in September. He said: “The one thing in this band is the four of us don’t stray a lot. And I think a big part of the fact that METALLICA, 41 years in, is still as functional as we are is because we just haven’t strayed a lot. Of course, Kirk [Hammett, METALLICA guitarist] has gone and done his solo stuff, and James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] did something with one of the Waylon Jennings kids a few years ago, and I’ve done one or two things, and [Robert] Trujillo [METALLICA bassist] goes back to SUICIDAL [TENDENCIES] occasionally and INFECTIOUS GROOVES, but we don’t stray a lot.
“Dave Grohl [FOO FIGHTERS leader] called me three or four months ago and asked me if I would partake in the Taylor Hawkins tribute shows at Wembley and at the L.A. Forum, and, obviously, before he was done explaining it, I just said, ‘Yes, Dave. I’ll be there. Just tell me what you want and I’ll show up with bells and whistles on.”
Ulrich continued: “Straying outside of the METALLICA world is not the most comfortable thing for me. I think a big part of why we just love staying inside the METALLICA universe is because there’s that safety in numbers, and we just support each other and have that thing. But playing with Grohl and the other three FOO FIGHTER guys, and then at Wembley we did, with Brian Johnson, the AC/DC singer, we did an AC/DC set, and it was so much fucking fun to play.”
When host Howard Stern noted that there is a special kind of energy when musicians from different background play together, Lars said: “For me, and I use the word ‘wheelhouse’ a lot, playing those AC/DC songs is right in my wheelhouse. If they had said — I mean, I love RUSH — [but] If they had said, ‘Come up and play ‘2112‘ with Alex [Lifeson] and Geddy [Lee], I’d go, ‘I think there’s somebody more qualified to do that than me.’ But playing those AC/DC songs with the four FOO FIGHTERS guys and Brian was just a fucking next-level magical experience. And then in L.A., a couple of weeks later, we did a BLACK SABBATH medley with Geezer Butler, O.G. bass player and absolutely one of the geniuses of the early days of hard rock and metal, we did a couple of BLACK SABBATH songs. So it was great fun to go do that.
When asked if he felt he could play a RUSH song with Lee and Lifeson if asked, Ulrich said: “Could I do it? Obviously, playing with Alex and Geddy would be incredible. Some of the guys, Chad Smith played and Dave played a couple of songs [with Geddy and Alex]. It would be an uphill thing. It would take a lot of rehearsal, a lot of prep. ‘2112‘ would probably be too much of a bite of the apple for me. But in terms of just feeling comfortable, and kind of doing the thing that exists sort of where I am, that AC/DC stuff is right in my fucking pocket. And I love that so much.”
After Stern said that Ulrich could probably play some of the LED ZEPPELIN material with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page if he wanted to, Lars said: “I could do some of that, yeah. I could do the DEEP PURPLE stuff, definitely do the SABBATH stuff. Obviously, I’ve studied all three of those for close to 50 years now, so that’s definitely in the wheelhouse… The first band I ever saw was DEEP PURPLE. When I was nine years old, I went and bought a DEEP PURPLE album the next morning. And BLACK SABBATH came soon after. ZEPPELIN was there also, but primarily DEEP PURPLE and SABBATH. So when I say I’ve studied it, it’s just been there for 45, 50 years for me.”