Metallica‘s “St. Anger” has received a lot backlash over the years and one of the lead criticisms stems from the sound of Lars Ulrich‘s snare drum on the album. Producer Bob Rock recently offered an explanation for the sound and now Ulrich has addressed it as well saying that he “stand[s] behind it a hundred percent.”
Ulrich said the following on SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk”:
“I stand behind it a hundred percent, because at that moment, that was the truth.”
“Just my personality, I’m always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing. That’s just how I’m wired. Whether it’s Metallica always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I’m doing, I’m just always thinking ahead. Sometimes, arguably, I spent too much time in the future, but I rarely spend any time in the past. And so the only time this stuff really comes up is in interviews.
I hear ‘St. Anger‘. That’s a pummeling and a half, and there’s a lot of incredible, raw energy, and it’s, like, ‘Woah!’ It’s been slapped around a little bit. But the snare thing, it was like a super-impulsive, momentary… We were working on a riff. [James] Hetfield was playing a riff in the control room. And I ran up. I was, like, ‘I need to put a beat behind that.’
I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on. And then we were listening back to it, and I was, like, ‘Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.’ And then I just kind of left the snare off for the rest of the sessions, more or less. And then it was, like, ‘Yeah, that’s cool. That’s different.
That’ll fuck some people up. That sounds like that’s part of the pummeling,’ or whatever. And then it becomes this huge, debated thing. And sometimes we’ll kind of sit on the sidelines and go, like, ‘Holy shit! We didn’t see that one coming,’ in terms of the issue that it turns into.”
He went on to say that he has no regrets about any of Metallica’s production choices:
“I’m proud of all of those decisions, because I know at that time, they were the truth and it was the instinctive and the right thing to do. And then, 20 years later, it’s, like, ‘Well, how would that have sounded if the snare was on?’ Or, ‘How would that have sounded if we did two instead of four?’
I mean, I don’t know, but I don’t really think about it, to be honest with you, other than when I’m confronted with it in interviews. And I wouldn’t change a thing about the past. Of course, how far are you gonna push that? Of course, yes, bus accidents and things like that, of course. But the point of what I’m saying is I just don’t spend a lot of time sitting there, going, ‘Well, if we hadn’t done that,’ and, ‘If we did this instead…’
I’m just always too busy about what we’re doing next, and that’s just my M.O. And I think all of us in Metallica generally operate like that. So we’re just always excited about the next thing, the next thing, the next record.”
“I say this often, but people always go, ‘What’s your favorite Metallica record?’ My standard answer is, ‘My favorite Metallica [album] is the next one, and the next song we’re gonna write and the next album that’s coming,’ because if you don’t think that your best work is still ahead of you, why do it? And we’re always so excited about the opportunities that lay in front of us.”