Ex-Kyuss Bassist Scott Reeder: Lars Ulrich was “Pretty Excited About” Metallica’s St. Anger Snare at the Audition
Former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder looks back on the time he unsuccessfully auditioned to replace Jason Newsted in Metallica.
How did you end up auditioning for Metallica [in 2001]?
“At some point after Jason [Newsted] was out, Lars [Ulrich] was hanging out with my old [Kyuss] bandmate, Josh Homme, and asked him who he thought should be the new bassist for Metallica. Josh pointed him my way.
Metallica and Kyuss had toured together in Australia back in ’93, so they were familiar with where I was coming from. Anyway, I was working outside at the ranch when Lars called. My wife brought the phone out and thought it was a prank call from Maynard from Tool! Nope – it was actually Lars!”
What happened next?
“They flew me up a week or two after the call. We sat around a table and talked for a while, and finally James [Hetfield] said, ‘Well, let’s fuckin’ play!’ They had me call ’em out – we did Fuel, Creeping Death, Master Of Puppets, Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, Fade To Black… They had their Christmas party for the whole Metallica organization while I was up there, so that was fun! They took over a bowling alley and raged!
The next day, it was back to work on St. Anger overdubs. There was a certain song for which James asked us all for lyrical input… Everyone wandered off and scribbled down whatever lines or phrases came to mind. After a while we got together and presented it all to James. He gathered his thoughts and cut his vocals right next to me on the couch in the control room! That was pretty crazy.”
How did you find out you didn’t get the role?
“The three guys called me together to let me off the hook a few weeks later. They hadn’t made their final decision yet – I suspect that they were clear that Rob was their frontrunner. Around a half hour after that call, I got a call from James, just making sure I was alright. I told him I was stoked to have even been considered! I said, ‘This was like the Metal Olympics or something, and I got the silver medal – it’s all good!’”
How did you feel about St. Anger when you heard it?
“Well, it’s the one album that I don’t own. They played me some of it when I was up there. I thought Lars was pulling my leg about the snare sound for a minute, but he was pretty excited about it; if there’s one thing I learned from my time in Kyuss, it’s that there are no rules!”
During a 2020 appearance on SiriusXM‘s ‘Trunk Nation with Eddie Trunk,’ Ulrich talked about the snare sound:
“I stand behind it 100% because, at that moment, that was the truth — just my personality, I’m always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing. That’s just how I’m wired.
“Whether it’s Metallica always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I’m doing, I’m just always thinking ahead; sometimes, arguably, I spent too much time in the future, but I rarely spend any time in the past. And so, the only time this stuff really comes up is in interviews.
“I hear St. Anger — that’s a pummeling and a half, and there’s a lot of incredible, raw energy, and it’s like, ‘Woah!’ It’s been slapped around a little bit, but the snare thing, it was like a super-impulsive, momentary… We were working on a riff. Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room, and I ran up; I was like, ‘I need to put a beat behind that.’ I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on.
“And then we were listening back to it, and I was like, ‘Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.’ And then I just kind of left the snare off for the rest of the sessions, more or less. And then it was like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. That’s different. That’ll f*ck some people up. That sounds like that’s part of the pummeling,’ or whatever. And then it becomes this huge, debated thing.
“And sometimes we’ll kind of sit on the sidelines and go like, ‘Holy sh*t! We didn’t see that one coming,’ in terms of the issue that it turns into. I’m proud of all of those decisions because I know at that time, they were the truth, and it was the instinctive and the right thing to do. And then, 20 years later, it’s like, ‘Well, how would that have sounded if the snare was on?’, or, ‘How would that have sounded if we did two instead of four?’
Scott Reeder Excerpt from Metal Hammer Issue 355