Lars Ulrich Interview w/ Aidin Vaziri

Metallica:  Check out Aidin Vaziri’s chat with Lars Ulrich as they caught up during the band’s stop in Poland last week. – READ THE INTERVIEW

Metallica doesn’t have an off switch.

The band has spent the past three years thundering around the world in support of its most recent album, 2016’s “Hardwired … to Self-Destruct,” starting a foundation, performing benefit shows for Bay Area fire victims, launching its own branded whiskey and beer, and announcing plans to release its first children’s book, “The ABC’s of Metallica.”

For an encore, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame act is coming home to perform a pair of shows with the San Francisco Symphony for the grand opening of Chase Center, the new home of the Golden State Warriors, on Friday, Sept. 6, and Sunday, Sept. 8.

The concerts, conducted by Edwin Outwater with a special appearance by Michael Tilson Thomas, mark the 20th anniversary of Metallica’s first performance with the symphony at the Berkeley Community Theater in 1999, which yielded the live album “S&M” (Symphony & Metallica). A film of the concerts, called “S&M2” is scheduled to be released in theaters worldwide on Oct. 9.

Q: Playing with the symphony seems like a lot of work. Why not just do a straightforward Metallica show?

Lars Ulrich:  You mean, “Why not take the easy way?” Two words: San Francisco. It’s that simple.

When we’re home, we’ve got to do something above and beyond. There’s a creative element to this collaboration that we really appreciate and we’re really thankful for. It’s been ramping up for the past few months. There’s been lots of emails and phone calls and musical prep. So, yes, we’re not taking the easy way out of this one.

Q: Are you going to mix it up, or are you doing the stick with the original “S&M” set list?

Lars: I guess there’s a part of me that wants to say, wait and see. But anybody that knows Metallica would know that we are going to mix it up.

I don’t want to get into too many details of what we’re going to do. The surprise factor isn’t one we get a chance to utilize too often any more, but people that know Metallica know that 20 years later we can’t resist the urge of mixing it up and adding some twists and turns to it.

Q: Watching you as a fan, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you happier as a band. I know you had a lot of good times in the ’80s, but it feels like you guys have finally figured out how to make this work.
A: You know what? It only took 38 years. Who would have thought?

Lars:  I appreciate you acknowledging that. This may be the best tour we’ve ever done in Europe. It wasn’t because of the numbers, even though the numbers are kind of crazy. The reason this is the best tour is because we feel more connected internally than we ever have before. We’re connecting more with the audience and with the fans and the people who are there to share the experience. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Over the course of a summer like this you find yourself occasionally, over a late-night beverage or the right company, trying to intellectualize or get overly analytical about why it’s working at the moment. It’s very hard for me, at least in a sound bite, to clarify that or articulate it.

There’s some balances and boundaries that are in place that make everybody happy and make Metallica a better band in terms of the physical elements, the mental elements and all this.