"We're led by the mantra that our best days are still ahead of us, and our favourite record is the one we haven't made yet": Lars Ulrich explains why, in 2023, Metallica are still hungry, and still not satisfied

Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield
(Image credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Metallica drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich has spoken about what drives the band forward in their fifth decade together.

The Danish drummer was speaking on the SmartLess podcast, hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Sean Hayes, which the trio claim 'connects and unites people from all walks of life to learn about shared experiences through thoughtful dialogue and organic hilarity.'

During the conversation, Ulrich mentions the fact that, while Metallica played Giants Stadium, in East Rutherford, New Jersey, nine times in their career, their recent two night stand at the MetLife Stadium (the 'new' home of the New York Giants and New York Jets since 2010) on August 4 and 6, were the two largest shows that the Californian band have ever played in the Tri-State Area in their four decade plus career.

When Ulrich then tries to downplay this achievement somewhat by saying that this comment isn't him bragging about how big Metallica are in 2023, it's an illustration that "post-Covid, people wanna come out and live again", his hosts point out that people aren't coming out to see just any artist, and that Metallica can take great credit for their longevity and continued relevance.

"I think a significant part of what drives us to this day," says Ulrich, "is that we're kinda led by the mantra of, our best days are still ahead of us, and our favourite record is the one we haven't made yet. And that we actually may turn professional and do this for real one day." [Laughs]

Ulrich goes on to credit "the energy of the universe" for bringing him and James Hetfield into contact in 1981, to begin Metallica's musical journey.

"There were so many things that we didn't have in common," the drummer notes, "but what we had in common was that we were both loners... and we were misfits, and we were disenfranchised in a way that we just lived in our own worlds and listened to our own music... it was a pretty isolated existence. And so what James and I ended doing was, we were the brothers that neither of us ever had, and we started writing songs together and just creating the world for ourselves that we wanted to inhabit. At that time, there was never anything about goals, or success, or 'we're gonna be famous'."

Listen to the full interview with Ulrich below:

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.