Metallica's biggest fan, Lars Ulrich, reflects upon Lulu, his band's 2011 controversial collaboration with Lou Reed in a newly-published, posthumous book from the Velvet Underground's late frontman, sharing his belief that criticism of the work is rooted in "ignorance".
The drummer's comments, which will doubtless be warmly received by the sizeable contingent of Metallica fans who don't share his warmth towards the album, feature in The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi, a collection of Reed's writing and reflections upon his practice of Tai Chi collated alongside interviews with friends, acquaintances, fellow practitioners and music industry associates.
One section of the book sees Ulrich and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett share their memories of their work with Reed, who passed away in 2011.
Text on the standalone website for the 2011 work states that Lulu was 'inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box, which tell the story of a young abused dancer’s life and relationships, and are now collectively known as the Lulu plays.'
It explains: 'Since their publication in the early 1900s, the plays have been the inspiration for a silent film (Pandora’s Box, 1929), an opera, and countless other creative endeavors. The plays challenged the sexual and moral standards of their day and have remained highly controversial. Originally the lyrics and musical landscape for Lulu were sketched out by Lou for a theatrical production in Berlin. After Lou performed with Metallica at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts in New York in 2009 they all knew they wanted to make more music together.'
Of the creative process at Metallica's HQ base, Lars Ulrich recalls, "We had a chance to get to a creative place we'd never been, and the lyrics inspired that," Lou took us out of our comfort zone. The lyrics were angry, spiteful, awkward, and beautiful, and all made sense. It was a cohesive work that had almost every human emotion."
Kirk Hammett, meanwhile, is quoted as saying that the creative partnership "taught me how to be in the moment and trust my instincts as an artist."
Not blind to the fact that the album didn't meet with universal acclaim, Metallica have strongly defended their work with Reed over the years: "Lulu wasn’t accepted as much as we accepted it," James Hetfield acknowledged in 2015, adding, "I’m really proud that we did it. It was fun, it was an adventure."
In The Art of the Straight Line, as reported by Loudwire, Lars Ulrich is even more bullish in his defence of the record.
"What the fuck is it about Lulu that it got that kind of reaction?," he muses. "I can't quite figure it out, but years later, it's aged extremely well. It sounds like a motherfucker still. So I can only put the reaction down to ignorance ... It took our fans to a place I wish they would go more often.
"Maybe it would be a better time to release it now with what's going on outside in the world, the chaos," he reflects. "I don't know, but I am very proud of this record ...James Hetfield and I would be figuring out ways through a piece of music and then Lou would look over and go, 'That's it. I'm not doing another fucking take of that.' That's not the way we usually worked, but it was so beautiful and great, the whole thing."
The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi is out now via Harper One.