James Hetfield Addresses His Contribution To Lars’ Drumming, ‘I Am A Frustrated Drummer’

In one of his interviews with Total Guitar, Metallica frontman James Hetfield described his unique style of playing guitar and revealed how he influenced Lars Ulrich’s drumming especially during the live performances of the band.

James Hetfield has been known not only for his remarkable voice but also for his unique style of rhythm playing for 40 years. In the interview he joined, Metallica icon described his way of playing as percussive which came from his great interest in playing drums. He found his rhythms with the help of combining them with the drum beats in his head.

According to Hetfield, if the drums played exactly to the rhythm, it wouldn’t be effective. He mentioned that the band’s drummer Lars Ulrich played the drums against the rhythm which made Hetfield feel like he was also the drummer on the stage. Ulrich was able to play the drums in his own style while Hetfield was following the rhythm and the beat during the live performances of Metallica.

During the interview, James stated that he contributed to Lars’ drumming while he also admitted Ulrich’s contribution to his riffs. Apparently, Ulrich showed him new riffs while Hetfield was also teaching him new drum beats. The iconic singer stated that he is a frustrated drummer and Ulrich is a frustrated singer and guitarist, however, they both are able to ‘accept each other’s dreams that way,’ which helped Metallica to become one of the greatest bands in the world.

Hetfield stated in the interview that:

Percussive. I love playing drums, so a lot of the rhythms come from beats that I have in my head. A lot of times when you’re doing a rhythm and the drums play along exactly to that rhythm, it’s less effective. I see that a lot in certain bands these days, ‘Here’s the guitar riff and the kick and snare are doing the exact same thing.’

With Metallica, Lars Ulrich is always playing a little against the riff. It’s almost like I’m the drummer and he does counter beats to the rhythm. Onstage, the only thing Lars has got in his ear monitors is my guitar and some vocals. So I’m kinda keeping the tempo of the song and he’s able to get a little crazier on the drums.”

He went on:

“Quite a bit because, as I say, I have a lot of room to lay down. I might not be able to be as free as possible on some stuff because when I get loose everything goes a little wobbly!

But I’m able to show Lars some drum stuff and he’s able to show me riff stuff, you know? I’m a frustrated drummer and he’s a frustrated singer-guitarist! So it’s really great that we’re able to accept each other’s dreams that way and see it as a positive thing, not just, ‘Get outta my territory!'”

The frontman revealed that he and his longtime bandmate taught each other a lot while creating new riffs and beats. As it can be stated from his interview that Hetfield and Ulrich have been a great team for a long time and this partnership has contributed a lot to the iconic songs and performances of Metallica.