If you’re a fan of thrash metal, you’re undoubtedly aware of the ‘Big Four’, that is, the four most-successful groups of the genre, including Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, and Metallica. But now, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich has explained why he thinks it was that his group were bigger than all the others.
During the talk, Ulrich addressed the question of what it was that made Metallica different from all the other acts in the Big Four, and why they managed to achieve greater success than their contemporaries.
“Well, I don’t wanna sell anybody down the river here. Obviously, all these bands are friends of ours, peers of ours, and I have a tremendous amount of respect and love for each one of those bands,” Ulrich began. “But, I guess, we’ve always felt in Metallica that we were autonomous and that we were in our own world and that we were misfits and that we never felt like we were part of a scene.”
“So we really only ever charted our own course, as they say. We just are fiercely independent, and it’s an approach to everything that we do, which is that we don’t try to latch on to another way of doing things or piggybacking on particular trends or fashions or business styles or whatever. But we just do what is right for Metallica in our own universe.”
“And we’ve made, I guess, some decisions along the way, both creatively and practically, that have put us on a different course,” he continued. “I’m not a journalist, and it’s not my place to sit and talk about why we are in a particular place and other people are not. I feel uncomfortable with that.”
Additionally, Ulrich also explained that it was the band’s insistence to do their own thing that helped them achieve the mainstream success that seemed to elude their fellow bands.
“Like I said, the battle cry, the M.O. was always independence and just do our own thing and never feel that we had to serve anybody else, that we had to cater to anybody else’s needs, any particular trends, any moments that were going on in business or in fashion or any kind of things that were part of particular trends or waves,” Lars Ulrich explained to the crowd.
“So musically, we played harder music, but we’ve never particularly felt that we were part of a scene. […] When Ride The Lightning came out, our second album, in 1984, there was an acoustic guitar on the song ‘Fade To Black’, and people started freaking out: ‘Oh my God! What are they doing?’ But, to us, it was just the next natural place to go musically.”
“The analogy I give in interviews is that there’s a train, and we’re doing our best to steer the train, but at the same time, you can’t just force the train to go — sometimes you end up actually holding on as the train is moving forward rather than forcing the train to a particular place,” Ulrich concluded. That’s kind of how we look at all this type of stuff.”
“So sometimes you’ve gotta hold on, sometimes you’ve gotta steer, and the thing is to know when to do what at which time.”
On the topic of thrash-metal bands, one of the Big Four’s most beloved acts, Slayer, are currently working towards the end of their career. After having formed back in 1981, the group announced earlier this year that they’re set to break up after a final tour.
While Australia is yet to receive any of these final tour dates, we feel pretty certain that a band like Slayer, who have toured our fine country so often in the last few decades, wouldn’t call it quits without a proper goodbye.
Likewise, Metallica haven’t toured Australia since the Soundwave Festival all the way back in 2013. While it seemed likely they’d possibly tour in 2017 in support of their newest album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, Aussie dates are yet to eventuate. With the group currently on tour until 2019, here’s hoping that’s about to change sooner rather than later.