Lars Ulrich: I become rock gnome when Metallica hit the stage

lars ulrich
Up to 13: Ulrich in action (Image credit: Getty)

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich says he becomes a “rock gnome” when he goes on stage with his colleagues.

That’s the way he describes the live transformation fuelled by the thrash icons’ aggression – which is something they’ve come to terms with over the years.

The band are continuing to promote the release of 10th album Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, due on November 18.

Ulrich tells BBC6 Music: “The old cliche is ‘turn it up to 11.’ I guess we turn it up to 12 or 13. But as I get a little older I realise there’s a slight element of getting into character.

“You’re up on stage, you’re in the moment, you’re with your bandmates. You turn into a little rock gnome or something!

“I’m not quite like that at 7.15 in the morning, when I’m trying to get kid number three to finish his fruit bowl.”

Frontman James Hetfield says: “I’ve come to terms with aggression being a part of me. I’m able to identify it and use it. Sharpen it at times, use it in the right places.”

At other times, he continues, “you just shut the box on it for a while and try to be normal.”

Despite aggression and anger featuring as strong themes on Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, Hetfield reports that Metallica try not to be too specific.

“We stay away from politics, from religion. That just seems to polarise people even more. We all have our own beliefs but we’re trying to connect with people, and it seems like political views don’t do that as much as music does.”

Meanwhile, Ulrich says the material on the upcoming title demonstrates the band at “the leanest we’re capable of,” adding: “The last record, as it went along, kept getting bigger and bigger. The songs got longer endings and that type of stuff.

“This record was quite different – the songs got tighter, leaner and more concise. I feel this is Metallica at the leanest we’ve been for a while.”

The band continue to add dates to their upcoming touring schedule, after playing an intimate fan club show earlier this week.

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Metallica tour dates

Oct 22: Mountain View Shoreline Amphitheatre, CA
Oct 23: Mountain View Shoreline Amphitheatre, CA
Oct 26: San Juan Coliseo De Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico
Oct 29: Quito Parque Bicentenario, Ecuador
Nov 01: Bogota Hipodromo De Los Andes, Columbia
Nov 03: Guatemala City Estadio Cementos Progreso, Guatemala
Nov 05: San Jose Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica
Feb 03: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Feb 05: Copenhagen Royal Arena, Denmark
Mar 25-26: Lollapalooza Brazil
Mar 31-Apr 01: Lollapalooza Argentina
Apr 01-02: Lollapalooza Chile

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Not only is one-time online news editor Martin an established rock journalist and drummer, but he’s also penned several books on music history, including SAHB Story: The Tale of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, a band he once managed, and the best-selling Apollo Memories about the history of the legendary and infamous Glasgow Apollo. Martin has written for Classic Rock and Prog and at one time had written more articles for Louder than anyone else (we think he's second now). He’s appeared on TV and when not delving intro all things music, can be found travelling along the UK’s vast canal network.