Lars Ulrich on Lou Reed: ‘We Were Both Outsiders’

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(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

(Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

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In the days following Lou Reed‘s passing, artists took to Twitter to pay respect to the man. Absent from the tributes, surprisingly, was Metallica, with whom Reed recorded his final album, the polarizing Lulu. However, yesterday drummer Lars Ulrich spoke to the U.K.’s Guardian about the legendary songwriter.

Ulrich described working with Reed for the first time at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s anniversary concerts in October of 2009. “We were aware of his reputation for being unfiltered and upfront, and that he just says what he’s thinking; he can be a bit standoffish, we were told. We were in a rehearsal room in midtown Manhattan – he walked in and was quite standoffish, quite short, quite like you would expect him. We started setting up, and waltzing around a few musical things, and he was complaining about how loud we were and that we were playing everything wrong. Every single thing we were doing was wrong.”

Soon, however, things thawed, and after spending time with Reed, Ulrich learned that “He was a very guarded, mistrusting person… I could just see that whenever there were new people who came on his radar that he would have to size them up first before he let himself be opened up.” He recognized similar defense mechanisms in other artists from the ’60s and ’70s: “I’ve met half a dozen other artists from his generation, and if you talk to them for long enough they’ll tell you stories about getting f****d over, by the man, the system, the business, bad deals, each other, whatever.”

And while there was a lot of surprise from both Reed and Metallica’s respective fanbases when the news broke that they were working together, Ulrich says that there was a common link between his band and Reed: “We were both outsiders, we both never felt comfortable going down the same path that everyone else was doing. Metallica’s always been autonomous, and Lou Reed is the godfather of being an outsider, being autonomous, marching to his own drum, making every project different from the previous one and never feeling like he had a responsibility to anybody other than himself. We shared kinship over that.”

The Lulu project was easily the most controversial of Metallica’s career, but Ulrich feels it holds up. “I played the record for my kids yesterday in the car,” he said, “And it sounded as relevant and more intense than ever; it sounded incredibly potent, very alive and impulsive… It taught me a different approach in the studio, of just doing it rather than thinking about it. We did the whole record in three weeks; three weeks in on a normal Metallica record, we haven’t even decided what corner of the studio we’re going to set the drums in…Twenty-five years from now, you’re going to have millions of people claiming they owned the record or loved it when it came out, of course neither will be true. I think it’s going to age well.”

Ulrich ends on a sensitive point, showing a different side of both himself and Reed: “He was very open, he would say, ‘Lars, I love you,’ and text me a heart. It was so beautiful. The way he was so unfiltered is what I will remember most, and his fragility, and how I’ve never met anybody who, no matter what he was saying, he was always speaking his truth.”

Read the entire piece at The Guardian.

Brian Ives, Radio.com

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