METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich has once again defended ‘Lulu’, the band’s controversial collaborative album with Lou Reed, saying that “there is nothing” he would change about the experience of working with the late THE VELVET UNDERGROUND frontman.
‘Lulu’ polarized fans around the world and earned METALLICA some of the most scathing reviews of its career. The effort featured Reed spoken-word poetry and lyrics combined with METALLICA‘s musical assault for a jarring experience that didn’t sound like anything METALLICA had ever attempted before.
Less than five years since its release, ‘Lulu’ has only sold around 35,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Speaking to “The Eddie Trunk Podcast”, Lars said about ‘Lulu’ (hear audio below): “There’s nothing I would change. I mean, the only thing I’d change is I wish Lou was still around. It’s weird being in New York and not being able to see him. I miss him. We got very close… We were very close for a year, and then, as he got sicker, we were less close. But I didn’t know he was that sick.”
He continued: “No matter how many people sit there and find fault with [‘Lulu’], we wouldn’t change any of it. And I still would dare most people, or at least most musicians, or most creative types, to sit there and go… If Lou Reed called you up and asked you to play music with him, you wouldn’t say ‘no’ to that. And if you were gonna say ‘no’ to that, I would ask you to question yourself as an artist.”
Asked if working with Reed on ‘Lulu’ affected the way METALLICA approached the making of its forthcoming tenth studio album, ‘Hardwired…To Self-Destruct’, Lars said: “When we made that record with [Lou] five years ago, we were stunned how a seasoned artist like himself could be that impulsive. And being around him… We’d do one take of something… We’d make it up as we were going along. There was this completely momentary, impulsive energy. And we’d sit there and go, ‘That sounds great. I think we’re on to something. Now let’s start honing it.’ And he’d sit there and go, ‘Fuck it! We’re done.’ It’s, like, ‘Huh?’ [And he’d say], ‘That was great.’ We come from the [attitude of], ‘Let’s do it again. Let’s better it.’ And he was, like, ‘Fuck! I’m happy. That was great. It was a moment.’ And so I think that that kind of acceptance of just the moment was something that we had never experienced that close up. And I think that it definitely just gave us a new way to interpret a creative process, or gave us an additional layer — that one can be that impulsive and one can also be happy with sort of recognizing that what happened in that minute has a beautiful element to it that’s just part of that minute. So, of course, it can be different, but the whole thing about, can it be better? But being with Lou and the way that he would just sing one take, or whatever, and then just go, ‘Great. I’m happy.’ It was so cool. It was so cool.”
In a 2012 interview with Spin, Ulrich admitted that the band was caught off guard by the vehement reaction to ‘Lulu’, saying, “It was more spiteful than anyone was prepared for. Especially against Lou. He is such a sweet man. But when METALLICA do impulsive riffing and Lou Reed is reciting abstract poetry about German bohemians from 150 years ago, it can be difficult to embrace.”
Asked whether the band had second thoughts over some of Reed‘s lyrics, like “I swallow your sharpest cutter / Like a colored man’s dick,” Ulrich said, “I understand that to some 13-year-old in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, it can all seem a little cringe-worthy, but to someone raised in an art community in Copenhagen in the late ’60s, that was expected.”
The collaboration between METALLICA and Reed was sparked by their performance together of Reed‘s “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat” at the 25th anniversary of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame at Madison Square Garden in October of 2009.
The songs were all written by Reed with extensive arrangement contributions by METALLICA.
Only two songs on the album are under five minutes in length, while two are more than 11 minutes long and the closing cut, “Junior Dad”, clocks in at 19 minutes.
Reed died in October 2013 at the age of 71, five months after he had a life-saving liver transplant, according to his wife, Laurie Anderson.
Listen to “The Eddie Trunk Podcast” using the audio player below