Lars Ulrich Reacts To James Hetfield’s Insecurity About His Voice And Playing
When we think of Metallica, we often picture the rock gods who’ve been dominating the music scene for over four decades. But even legends like James Hetfield have their moments of vulnerability, as seen during a heartfelt onstage moment in Brazil last year. In a recent interview with Revolver, drummer Lars Ulrich reflected on Hetfield’s candid display of insecurity and how the band’s dynamic has evolved over the years.
It’s no secret that Hetfield has faced his share of challenges, including mental health issues and a long battle with alcohol addiction. Overcoming these obstacles has only made the bond between Metallica’s members stronger, as they’ve learned to be more open and supportive of one another. Last year, at Metallica’s show in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on May 12, James Hetfield surprised fans by opening up about his emotional state.
He admitted to feeling insecure due to his age and guitar playing, expressing doubts about his abilities. However, he also acknowledged the unwavering support he received from his bandmates, who reassured him that they always had his back. As Hetfield shared his thoughts, the crowd responded with applause, and his fellow musicians left their spots on stage to offer him a group hug. This touching moment served as a reminder that even rock stars need reassurance sometimes.
In his interview, Ulrich discussed how the band’s approach to emotional vulnerability has changed over the years. He explained that, in their earlier days, they were more focused on achieving perfection and would often argue about mistakes made on stage. However, as they’ve grown older and more comfortable with themselves, they now embrace the human element of their performances, laughing off any errors and celebrating their camaraderie.
Lars emphasized the importance of staying connected with his bandmates, checking in with them regularly, and maintaining transparency in their relationships. This approach stood in stark contrast to their past when they operated more like emotionless metal robots. Today, Metallica is more in tune with their feelings and able to support each other through moments of insecurity, like the one Hetfield experienced in Brazil.
When reminded of their emotional moment on stage, Ulrich said:
“Hugging your fellow bandmates is definitely something that we do enjoy along the way. And being open about our love for each other and our appreciation for each other, and how grateful we are that 40-plus years later, we can still stumble along and make it happen. We’re very comfortable with that side.
When you play these songs live and have these very rigid set lists, like, ‘OK, there’s 16 songs and in this particular order,’ and everything’s very scripted, our fans who know us well know that anytime there’s a moment for something to happen impulsively, that’s always something that we jump at.”
“But James was quite open about it earlier in the day. We try to check in with each other as much as we can on a daily basis. We try to be open and transparent with each other. That’s in contrast to 30-something years ago when you were not allowed to have feelings because you were just a 20-year-old metal robot. Back then, the human element was sort of left by the wayside. When we would come offstage, we would argue: ‘You f*cked that up.’ ‘No, I didn’t f*ck that up.’
It was just this crazy, inhuman striving for some sort of perfection that… I don’t even know if it was achievable. But now, being comfortable with who we are in the aging process and all that stuff, you kind of go, ‘Haha, wasn’t that really funny in that song when you f*cked that up?’ Now, we laugh and joke about it. We celebrate the human qualities in that and the fact that we are people going up there every night just trying to do our best.”
The heartwarming moment in Brazil, coupled with Ulrich’s insights, paints a picture of a band that has matured and grown together, embracing their humanity and cherishing their relationships with one another. It’s a testament to Metallica’s enduring bond that they can face their insecurities head-on and come out stronger, reminding us all that even the mightiest rock stars are human, after all.