After decades of making records together, Metallica members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich have developed a rich creative relationship with one another; that said, per Hetfield, the Metallica drummer still has the means of getting him “wound up” to this day.
At one point during a recent conversation with So What!, Hetfield was asked about his and Ulrich’s creative relationship. Specifically, the Metallica singer is asked if Ulrich ever chimes in with opinions regarding lyrics.
In response to this, Hetfield shares how Ulrich doesn’t provide much input on lyrics; that said, there is one thing the Metallica drummer does that can get Hetfield “wound up.”
Per the Metallica frontman:
“There has not been a lot of that. There have been comments from him just saying, ‘Wow, these lyrics are really good,’ without him going into detail about them. And nor do I do that with his drumming. You know, ‘When you hit the third tom in that roll, it was fantastic. I really related!’ We trust each other to bring the best to the table. I think more this time, some of the feedback I got from him was, ‘I like this cadence better than this one.’ Simple as that.
“It wasn’t so much the lyrics but song titles there’s input on, and I can get wound up because Lars can name a certain song from three albums ago, and he still calls it by the working title. You know, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the Black Squirrel riff.’
“Like, ‘What the hell are you talking about? Oh, you mean ‘Cyanide’?!’ [Our mighty fact-checkers said that it was actually ‘Broken, Beat & Scarred’ – ED] ‘Yeah. Yes, I do.’ And I can take that as a slight on not wanting to include the lyrical content into that piece of art, or I can just say that’s where his head was. He remembers that riff and putting that riff in that song, and that’s where he’s at.”
Hetfield goes on to add: “But when it comes to song titles, he likes to voice his opinion, and I put that out to everybody in the band. We have a little pow-wow and say, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m thinking for song titles. What do you think?’ It’s like what we do with the artwork or the album title itself. So it is a democracy in that way. I do find that living in consultation around that is helpful.
“Sometimes it’s not what I want to hear, but again, we all have to deal with differences of opinion and be somewhat humble in the band. This is representing all four of us, and even more than just the four of us, we just want to make it the best. And once I understand that everyone is wanting the best, then you can throw it out to democracy. And if three people say this one’s better than this one, okay, alright.”