Dave Mustaine Praises James Hetfield But Belittles Lars Ulrich

Dave Mustaine recently spoke to Metal Hammer and raved about James Hetfield but undermined Lars Ulrich’s drumming skills while looking back on his Metallica career.

The guitarist initially didn’t want to be the lead singer for Megadeth, but he decided to do it himself, thinking he couldn’t be worse than the other candidates he auditioned. He compared this to Hetfield, who became Metallica’s rhythm guitarist because they couldn’t find anyone better for the job, and explained:

“When I was in Metallica, I was kind of playing at Lars [Ulrich]’s level because Lars was still learning to play drums back then. But watching James play guitar for the first time was kind of shocking because I didn’t know he knew how to play guitar.”

Recalling his reaction to the Metallica frontman’s guitar playing, Mustaine continued:

“We just got fed up one day of auditioning guitar players, just like I did with singers. And he picked up this guitar and started playing, and inside I’m going, ‘Get the f*ck out of here. How can you possibly be satisfied being a singer when you play like that? Why not be both?’ I’ve always thought he was a really talented guitarist.”

Still, this is not the first time Dave expressed his doubts about Ulrich’s drumming abilities. In a January interview with Songfacts, the musician said the following when asked about working again with his former Metallica bandmates:

“I would love to work with James [Hetfield]. I’d like to work with Lars again, too, but I think the real talent in Metallica has always been around the guitar — everybody makes fun of the drums.”

He belittled the drummer’s songwriting skills, as well, during the same chat but acknowledged Lars as a skilled song arranger. Mustaine also recalled seeing Ulrich create the opening riff of ‘Master of Puppets’ on a basic acoustic guitar. Yet, it was Hetfield’s rendition that turned it into something remarkable.