METALLICA's LARS ULRICH: "We still don't really feel like we belong" | Revolver

METALLICA's LARS ULRICH: "We still don't really feel like we belong"

"No matter how successful we are"
metallica lars ulrich HUBBARD, Jimmy Hubbard
photograph by Jimmy Hubbard

Get Revolver's new Spring 2023 Issue featuring Metallica on the cover, plus an exclusive print of 72 Seasons-inspired art by acclaimed artist Marald van Haasteren. Only 250 made — order yours now!

Metallica are undoubtedly the biggest metal band in all of history. They've been headlining stadiums for decades, and in the current rock climate, you can likely count on two hands the number of bands who would play after them on a bill. 

However, even though 'Tallica are a veritable pillar of guitar-based music, and are to most normies the defining metal band, the thrash titans still feel like misfits.

In a recent appearance on the "Conan O'Brien Needs A Friend" podcast, Lars Ulrich revealed that no matter how successful — commercially, artistically, etc. — Metallica become, they still "don't really feel like we belong." 

During one segment of the interview, O'Brien asked Ulrich about what it was like for Metallica to break into the mainstream in the late 1980s, back when their style of thrash-metal was sitll relegated to the underground. 

"At that time, the music business was very formulaic," Ulrich said, as transcribed by Blabbermouth. "And so it was, 'This is how you're supposed to do it.' You get signed to a record company. You get a chunk of money. Then you go make a record on their terms, by their formula and their directive, and then they promote you how they wanna promote you, and blah blah blah.

"And of course, we weren't interested in that, we weren't buying in to that, we didn't think that any of that would be a possibility. So we just started doing our own thing, making some tapes, sending them to people in Europe. And very slowly we started realizing that there were way more like-minded people — music fans like ourselves — who didn't want their music coming out of that mainstream formula that the record company sort of provided."

Obviously, the gambit worked for Metallica, and by the time they released their commercial smash, 1991's "Black Album," they not only achieved a great deal of success for themselves, but transformed the entire landscape of heavy music.

Even so, Ulrich feels like all of their achievements are temporary, and that they're still the renegade outsiders invading the mainstream party. 

"And talk about mindfucks — that was this crazy mindfuck that nobody could predict was gonna happen," Ulrich said of Metallica's sudden popularity. "It wasn't that all the bands that were edgy moved towards the mainstream; it was that the mainstream moved out towards where all the edgy bands were. And 10 or 20 years later, all this crazy stuff that everybody was doing became the mainstream.

"And I still sort of struggle a little bit with that. In all seriousness, I still have a hard time… I'm permanently… always feel like we're outsiders, because that's how we grew up. So when all these great things are happening, it all still feels like either momentary or somebody is gonna [say], 'Okay, now make room for the real guys that are gonna come in and do this properly' or whatever. And so there's a little bit of, like, 'Holy shit.'

"We still don't really feel like we belong, no matter how successful we are," Ulrich concluded. 

Watch the interview segment below.