Who is Lars Ulrich

Lars Ulrich

Who is Lars Ulrich?

Lars Ulrich was born on December 26, 1963 in Gentofte, Denmark. His father Torben Ulrich was a professional tennis player and owned a jazz club. In 1976 Lars got his first drum set as a gift. In 1979 the Ulrich family emigrated to Newport Beach near Los Angeles. Two years later he met James Hetfield and founded Metallica with him.

Ulrich currently lives in San Francisco with his third wife, model Jessica Miller. He has three sons from previous relationships. Lars Ulrich is still a Danish citizen - in 2017 he was even knighted by Prince Frederik.

In addition to music, Ulrich has also tried his hand at being an actor (men's trip, billions), moderator or speaker - most recently, for example, at the Content Marketing Rockstars in Hamburg.

Lars Ulrich is the host of the Show Electric !, in which he interviews other musicians - like here Jack White:

Back to overview


Lars Ulrich & Metallica

Since the monumental “Black Album” was released in 1991, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has been floating in the carefree spheres of the mainstream. The native Dane who lives in San Francisco doesn't really feel at home in it. Because no sooner had the initial euphoria evaporated than suddenly there was a huge gap in his life: in his early 30s, experienced and seen everything - what else is going to happen?

Lars Ulrich nibbled on this for five years. A phase in which Messrs Hetfield, Hammett and Ulrich concentrated less on their music than on luxury items, babies and extensive art collections.

In short: The four were in crisis. Only since the double hit “Load” and “Reload” (1996/97) did they know what to do next: With an experimental border crossing between blues, rock and folk, which consciously sets itself apart from classic metal of the 80s. It is all the more astonishing that the stylistic change took place without any significant commercial losses.

Here is the song "Until It Sleeps" from the Metallica album Load:

In 2016 Metallica went back to their Metal roots with the album Hardwired… to Self-Destruct:

Back to overview


9 questions for Lars Ulrich

Do you still fit into the metal division in which you once grew up?

I've always hated those stupid drawers. Although: now I'm starting to tolerate people's opinion - let them call it what they want. I just don't feel like sparking in between and saying: “We are not Heavy Metal!” I used to always do that: “We are not speed, we are not Thrash or whatever…” - it sucks, but there is nothing you can do about it.

Metal meets hard rock! In 2009 Lemmy and Lars Ulrich met in Nashville:

Basically, we take up our own space. After all, our albums are always very varied musically. Hard rock or heavy metal, on the other hand, is considered extremely narrow-minded. Of course we make heavy music, I can't deny that.

But there is a big difference between producing harsh tones and actually thinking in these clichéd lines. So we really enjoyed taking part in a tour like Lollapalooza. The people there were just a lot more open. And that's exactly what I say about us.

Is that a question of growing up?

Well, it certainly has something to do with age, but on the other hand it also has to do with this feeling of security to try a few different things from time to time. After all, the biggest misinterpretation of our band results from the reduction to their stylistic abilities. We can do a lot more than most people think we can. And we are only just beginning to focus more and more on these pages.

That wouldn't have been necessary in the 80s - back then we were a pure metal band. People would be surprised to know that we've been deliberately suppressing these sites for years. It would just have been way too early to present them to the public.

What about the DJ Spooky remixes for the “Spawn” soundtrack and for “The Memory Remains”? Are these other unknown facets?

Yes absolutely. We are about to open up to completely different things. Five years ago that would have been unthinkable. It's also not something that I get particularly excited about. Still, I don't mind if someone reinterprets our music - I don't have to take part in it. So I have no moral concerns about these remixes. But I don't really like them if you know what I mean ...

Back to overview

Classic metal just can't be killed - just take this new boom in spandex & hairspray bands ...

... yes, just unbelievable! It's all so terribly conservative. In any other genre, innovation is seen as something positive. It's the other way around in hard rock. Besides, there is no other form of music in which there is such competition. I think it's very strange that people in hard rock and metal always talk about who is the fastest guitarist. What does that mean? Anyone can be the fastest guitarist in the world if they have good finger technique - it's not a question of talent, but of training.

Nobody talks about who is the fastest songwriter, Noel Gallagher or Elton John. This is so incredibly stupid. And that's particularly pronounced in heavy metal. Hey, that was the great merit of Kurt Cobain: When he appeared in 1991, he made the kids realize that there are other forms of expression. He showed all these 13-year-old kids who would otherwise have automatically chosen heavy metal or hard rock yet another alternative.

He stood in front of them and said, "I'm not a great guitarist, I'm bad at everything I do at all." Still, he was able to express his feelings. And that's the big problem with hard rock: it's all about the manual skills - but not about emotions.

Then how is it that you identified with this genre for years? Isn't it schizophrenic, on the one hand, to celebrate wild parties with Guns'n'Roses and, on the other hand, to brood over the absurdity of this lifestyle?

Somehow. (laughs) I mean, we had at least as much fun as Guns'n'Roses or Mötley Crue. But unlike them, we never bragged about it. Axl Rose always liked to play the bad boy - especially in the media.

We, on the other hand, have always been careful not to focus on this side of Metallica. We also made our experiences with alcohol, drugs and groupies, believe me! I have now 10 lives behind me and I am glad that I got through this phase. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially not musically.

On the contrary: I'm proud of our old records. Even if I can't do much with it today. This is especially true for “And Justice For All”. But when we recorded it in 1988, I was just as happy as I was after the “Garage Inc.” sessions. And that’s the only thing that matters: when you record a record, you always have to do your best. But who knows, maybe “Garage Inc.” will sound incredibly stupid 10 years from now. It makes perfect sense at the moment.

Back to overview

Don't you want to concentrate more on your work in the studio than on the stage anyway?

When you're 22 years old, all you think about is drinking, drugs, and picking up women. After all, that is an integral part of the whole day-to-day tour. And my life so far has been one tour.

Every time it came to recording an album, I resisted it with my hands and feet: “No, I don't want to make a record, then I would have to stop touring.” At some point I realized that records were only one Vehicles for further tours are and have just resigned myself to that. Sure, giving concerts is a great thing, but I'm older now and I just need a little more fun. After all, I'm not so keen on being successful anymore.

I had to realize that for a long time I was chasing something that I experienced with the “Black Album” at the latest: absolute success. Three years later it had suddenly lost all fascination. There was nothing left to chase after. And the only way out of this misery is to be a little more selfish and primarily to play for yourself again. Because once the fun is gone, it doesn't make any sense at all.

At the end of the 70s you were one of the greatest Danish tennis talents. Have you ever regretted sacrificing that career for rock music?

Not really. The hardest part is coming to terms with this group format. I mean, I have to get on a plane even if I don't feel like it. I have to get up so incredibly early so often, even though I would much rather get some sleep. Of course I love the other guys, but as a tennis professional I could just take a plane if I feel like it. (laughs)

Have you really been as good as everyone says?

Yes, but I just wasn't disciplined enough. There are people like John McEnroe who are just incredibly talented - they don't even have to train. In contrast, Ivan Lendl has almost no talent. He's only so good because he practices 12 hours a day. I'm a little bit of both. I inherited the talent from my father, but had to work harder than I wanted to.

When I was 15, 16 I started drinking beer, smoking weed and listening to Iron Maiden. I didn't care about anything else. I also had this experience in Florida, where I trained for a few weeks with a guy named Nick Bolletieri - he's the coach of André Agassi and Monica Seeles. I just couldn't handle it - unlike the drums.

And: does playing tennis have any effect on your drumming?

Oh yes, it definitely made my sense of rhythm a lot safer - simply because you know exactly how to divide your energy and how much force is needed to achieve a certain effect. Incidentally, this also applies to other areas of daily life - during sex, for example ... (laughs uproariously)

Interview: Marcel Anders

Back to overview


Lars Ulrich's groove in St. Anger

On the Metallica album “St. Anger ”, James Hetfield, Kirk Hemmett, Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich prove once again with 11 new songs that no one can push this band from the heavy metal throne anytime soon. Here are some of the typical "Lars Ulrich Grooves"!


St. Anger

Sheet music example 1: Using a dominant guitar riff, the introduction of the vocals (approx. 00:57) is prepared rhythmically over eight bars. The snare drum backbeat of the groove shown in note example 1 is on the “and” counting times, while the bass drum accents the 1/4 note pulse; the whole thing lies under a cymbal struck heavy in 1/16 notes and is played for four bars.

Note example 2: In the further course, the snare drum backbeat is shifted to the 1/16 “e” and “a” beats, thus doubling the tempo feeling. Below the 1/16 notes played alternately by the hi-hat and the snare drum is a double bass drum pattern played in 1/32; this groove also runs over four bars.

Note example 3: Then a 3/4 time is inserted, which is accentuated in groups of three 1/16 notes each, which are high-contrast above the 1/4 note pulse.

Note example 4 shows the two-measure groove immediately following this 3/4 time, which is played with the introduction of the vocals. In principle, a fairly simple rhythm, which, however, develops its own character with a rhythm that at first seems a bit tricky, which is achieved by moving the snare drum backbeats to the beats "4 and" in measure 1 and "2 and" and "4 and" in Measure 2 is created.

As a result, a 3/4 time (beats 1 - 3, bar 1) appears from the pulse feeling, followed by 2/4 bars (beats “4”, bar 1, including the “1” in bar 2, beats “2” and “3” in measure 2 etc.).

Back to overview


Some Kind Of Monster

Note sample 5 shows the groove played during a guitar riff. In this first round, a 2/4 time is inserted until the riff is repeated, in which the beat “1” of the subsequently repeated rhythm is played earlier than the beat “2and”. This eliminates the bass drum accent on the "1" of the next bar, there is a lot of movement.


Note example 6: The rhythm played in the further course of the song lives from the precise and dominantly emphasized bass drum pattern. The accents placed on the beats “3e” and “3a” ensure movement.


Dirty window

Note example 7 shows a basically quite simple groove based on 1/4 and 1/8 notes, which is, however, played at a rapid pace with a lot of drive. Listen!

Shoot me again

Note example 8: This groove gets its forward drive from the snare drum accents played on the "e" and "a" 1/16 note beats (played with the snare drum carpet switched off), while those on the 1/4 -Note beats accented bass drum provides the basis and the 1/8 notes struck on a crash cymbal provide the "open" heavy character - a groove pattern very often used by Lars Ulrich.

Lars Ulrich's drumming skills are quite controversial - there are numerous fail compilations on YouTube. Nevertheless, Ulrich's groove and musical performance with Metallica are innovative. When Lars started metal drumming, the metal genre was largely unknown in America.

Here is one of the videos that allegedly identify Ulrich as the worst drummer in the world:


Workshop: Diethard Stein