Lars Ulrich Talks Drumming: 'I've Never Been Very Interested In Ability'

By Sam Valorose

February 20, 2018

Lars Ulrich has always been on the receiving end of Metallica's harshest critics and while speaking about his unique drumming style in a recent interview with Polar Music Prize, the 54-year-old admitted that he's not "very interested in ability." 

During the interview with Polar Prize, considered the "Nobel Prize of Music" which Metallica will soon receive, Ulrich broke down his playing style, explaining that his drumming is only a part of the band and he focuses on the big picture.   

 "To me, it's always about the song and the band first. And the drums, or the guitars, or whatever else is going on, is just part of the big picture. So what you always have to do is you have to check your ego at the door and do what's best for the song, for the music, for the overall sound.

"What's always the most interesting to me about drumming is how do you fit the drums into what else is going on? How does it work [with] accents and special hits and kind of things that make it more rhythmic or more dynamic or just add a kind of a physicality to it?"

"I've never been very interested in ability. 'Oh, wow! This guy is so great!' Yeah, he's so great, but it doesn't mean that he can make it swing, or it doesn't mean that he can make it work within a group or a collective."

"As much as I grew up on people like Ian Paice from Deep Purple, who obviously has a lot of ability, I also love people like Phil Rudd and Charlie Watts, who [have] certainly ability, but, I think, to a lot of purists, maybe not so much, because they're not as technical. But they have a different kind of ability that, to me, is as valuable and as precious and as important in that they make it swing, they make it move, it gives it that physicality that it needs."

"I've always just looked at drums as more of a group instrument. I've never been very interested in playing drums by myself — you know, sitting down in a basement, practicing drum solos for hours at a time, that's not my thing. So being in a band, writing songs, making records, being part of a gang, being part of a band, that's always fascinated me."

Lars' shortcomings behind the kit have been the subject of many debates so it comes as no surprise that technical ability has never been a focus of his. There's plenty of evidence out there on the internet of this but some would argue that Metallica would not be the powerhouse they are without him. 

Metallica is receiving the Polar Prize for creating music "that is so physical and furious, and yet still so accessible," and helping "millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower." 

The band will also receive a £90,000 prize which they will donate to their All Within My Hands Charity.

Watch the full interview below: 

Photo Credit: Getty

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