"It’s almost like you’re on borrowed time now." Lars Ulrich on taking Metallica into their fifth decade, and how The Rolling Stones are going where no rock 'n' roll band have ever gone before

Lars Ulrich at a press event
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has discussed the metal legends' incredible longevity as they cruise through their fifth decade in a brand new interview.

Speaking to Metallica's official fanzine So What!, Ulrich discusses how Metallica - who celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2021 - have had to adapt the way they approach obstacles together, and how being a full-time heavy metal band made up of people in their late 50s and early 60s is almost unprecedented. 

"People often ask me in interviews, 'What is left to accomplish?'", he says. "And I go, 'Well, the thing that’s left now is just sticking around!' It’s almost like you’re on borrowed time now; nobody thought that you would be doing this 40 years into your run. Nobody could fathom that when we started. It dawned upon me the other day that when we started, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, all these guys were still in their 30s. So, there was no road map for playing rock and roll in your late 50s, early 60s, or, in the case of Jagger and McCartney, in their late 70s and early 80s. So, everything that we’re doing now feels like it’s sort of a bonus.

"Now, I think we’re much more equipped to deal with the bumps in the road and much more mentally accepting of the bumps in the road," he adds. "You’re so appreciative of every element of it, and if you sit down and look… four guys at this level, just the fact that we’re functioning is a minor miracle. James and Kirk are north of 60, Rob and I are knocking on that door. It’s fucking crazy that this is still happening. So, it feels like we’re in so much uncharted territory, and it feels like rock and roll itself is in so much uncharted territory. The Rolling Stones are putting out a record next month. The Scorpions are celebrating their 60th anniversary in like a year or two. That is all so fucking crazy, so everything that’s going on just feels like a bonus."

Ulrich later acknowledges that as much as Metallica are entering uncharted waters, legends like the Stones are two whole decades ahead of them.

"There’s a difference between functioning in a group in your 20s and functioning in a group in your 60s," he notes. "And I talked about The Rolling Stones getting to the age of functioning in a group in your 80s! So, all of that’s part and parcel of moving forward on life’s journey. Without getting overly philosophical, you can’t isolate one element of the journey forward without acknowledging the rest of the elements."

Earlier this year, Metallica released eleventh studio album 72 Seasons to generally favourable reviews from critics. In a 7/10 review for Metal Hammer, writer Stephen Hill wrote: "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 resume their 72 Seasons world tour, which has seen them play two different sets each night across various cities, in the US next month before the band hit Europe, North America and Mexico in 2024.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.