In metal, it doesn't get any bigger than Metallica, and in metal drumming, it certainly doesn't get any bigger than Lars Ulrich. Therefore, you might imagine that being Metallica's drum tech could be amongst the most intense, high-pressure and stressful jobs in all of music, but according to the man who actually performs that role, it's nothing of the sort.
In a new interview with The Prog Rock Digital Podcast (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), longtime Metallica drum tech Jimmy Clark reveals how he got the job, what it's like working with Lars and why it's nowhere near as stressful as you might imagine.
"You know what? The Metallica organisation is a very well-oiled machine and it's not stressful at all," he notes. "I think we're down to doing 25 shows a year now on the starting of the 72 Seasons [tour]. We have a huge 40-yard-by-40-yard stage now, and we do two shows per city or country, wherever we're in. And it's just something you adapt to. After about a week of doing it, I found my grounding and I just get it done. The Metallica crew, for one, is probably the best crew in the world for anybody. Everybody in their department is the top in the industry. So that makes it easy. So we move our gear and everything quickly, efficiently and safely.
"So yeah, that's pretty much it," he continues. "It's not stressful for me at all. I've enjoyed this gig from the day I got it to when we're in St. Louis next week and I hear him play that first note again. I love Metallica's music and I enjoy 'em; I haven't got tired of 'em. And I look forward to every night when they play to make sure that Lars is having a great night and he's comfortable, having a great show."
On whether he gets nervous working within such a major operation, Clark adds that he originally felt nervous "when I first got the gig, 'cause when I realised, 'Oh my God, now I work for Metallica and I work for the biggest metal drummer in the world.' I mean, to me, Lars is like - I might as well be working for John Bonham or Keith Moon or any of those guys I grew up on. He's iconic. So in the beginning, yeah, it was a little rattling until I found out his face expressions and when I knew he needed [something], and now it's to the point where I'm just so comfortable with them. I just get up there and do my gig, as long as I know I'm pretty confident in myself that I have everything in order. The worst thing I have before a show to do is maybe go take a leak before the show and it's a long way to the bathroom. That's the worst of my worries right there."
Metallica released their latest studio album 72 Seasons earlier this year. In a 7/10 review for Metal Hammer, Stephen Hill noted: "This deep into a career, it’s hard to imagine many bands making their finest material. That Metallica have still found something new to say (if not play) deserves respect. They may not have delivered their very best, but they’ve given us the best we realistically could have hoped for."
The band have spent much of 2023 touring the record, with more tour dates planned for 2024. Listen to the rest of The Prog Rock Digital Podcast's interview with Jimmy Clark below.