The devilish magic that James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich have been cooking up as Metallica over several decades has asserted them at the pinnacle of not just metal but the musical landscape as a whole. Whilst all four members of the group bring a different mercurial element into the mix, many would say that Lars Ulrich is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes them a shuddering powerhouse. When you’ve been in music for as long as Ulrich, you know what makes a great songwriter, and his favourite may surprise you.
Ulrich’s life has been a wild one. When he was 16-years-old, he left behind his life in Denmark to follow his father’s footsteps by becoming a professional tennis player. Moving to California was his opportunity to make it as an athlete. However, his life soon took an unexpected turn as the bright lights of Los Angeles introduced him into this brand new world of rock music and, rather than becoming one of the great tennis players, he became a metal icon.
Destiny saw him move to Los Angeles to follow his dream. Still, the road he’d end up down was a world away from the clay courts of Gentofte, where he honed his tennis skills as a youngster, and Ulrich ended up becoming a very different kind of icon to the one he once imagined, but a beloved figure nonetheless.
As one of metal’s most integral people, one may presume that Ulrich would select somebody from his genre, but the drummer looked about as far away from Metallica and instead chose Noel Gallagher.
“The hardest thing in the world – trust me, we know this first hand – is to write a simple song,” Ulrich told Classic Rock. “And the shorter and simpler, the harder it is. Those great Oasis songs – ‘Wonderwall’, ‘Live Forever’, ‘Supersonic’ – if you hear Noel do them by himself, just guitar and voice, it’s pretty incredible what those songs break down to when you’re that naked and that vulnerable.”
This remark isn’t the only time that Ulrich has publicly spoken about his love for the Britpop heroes. The drummer once told GQ that if he were booking his dream-festival, the Gallagher brothers would have to be there. “I’d also have Oasis in their heyday because you never knew what the mood would be like, what the temperature was going to be like between the brothers or who was going to walk off,” he stated.
In 2014, Ulrich divulged to The Guardian how he fell in love with everybody’s favourite lairy Mancunian band of brothers. “In 1994 I was browsing through an issue of a magazine called Select, and there was a story about a band from England, with some unusual looking fellows, that I’d never heard of. I skimmed across the article, and was quite amused by the fact that every other word was either ‘fuck’ or ‘cunt’.
“It reeked of attitude and not giving a fuck, which at the time – at the height of the ‘shoegazing I can’t handle being a rockstar’ attitudes that were becoming mainstream – was very refreshing.
“A few weeks later I was driving in my car, listening to radio station Live 105 here in San Francisco, when a song came on unlike any I had ever heard before. The attitude, the aloofness, and the not-giving-a-fuck vibes were pouring out of the speakers.
“It was Oasis and the Supersonic single. Thus began a long and very rewarding relationship with a sound, an approach and a way of looking at the world that has had a huge impact on me and helped shape who I am today – for whatever that’s worth.”
While on the surface, Oasis and Metallica are at opposite ends of the musical spectrum. There’s a fuck-you attitude that aligns them both together, making the pair of groups become more than a band and become an object of belonging for millions. Whilst having an attitude has made both acts so enticing, there’s no point acting like that if you don’t have the songs to back you up, and Noel Gallagher made sure that Oasis never lacked in that department.
Watch Ulrich’s conversation with Noel Gallagher for Apple Music below.