Metallica: James Hetfield Talks Learning to Play Drums + Lars Ulrich as a Frontman


In case you’re one of the twelve people in the world who still doesn’t know about Marc Maron’s WTF podcast: one of this week’s guests was one Mr. James Hetfield. Maron’s interview, as always, went very deep, starting with way back with Hetfield’s childhood.

At one point during the interview, Hetfield discusses growing up in a home with a drum kit (one of his brothers played). Then, without any prompting from Maron, Hetfield says…

“I’m eventually gonna play drums… this is hot news right now, I’ve never told anyone, but yeah, I’m working on being a drummer at some point… and Lars wants to sing, so it’s a good trade. Well, not for the listener, but [a] good trade for us.”

Hetfield then chuckles sheepishly, but it doesn’t really sound like an “I’m just kidding” chuckle so much as it sounds like a “I know this sounds dumb, but…” chuckle. Like, he really wants to learn drums.

And I find this assertion somewhat confusing. Because I thought Hetfield already plays drums.

I made this assumption based on the fact that he and Lars have swapped jobs in a live setting (as did Kirk Hammett and Jason Newsted).

I also made this assumption based on the fact there are not shortage of photos of Hetfield behind a drum kit over the years. So he either plays or he just finds drum stool mega-comfortable.

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I also also made this assumption based on the fact that he used to play drums for the punk band Spastik Children (with whom Hammett also played bass).

So I guess what Hetfield means is that he hopes to someday be a really good drummer. Which is admirable! An artist should never stop improving his art, and we all know it wouldn’t kill Metallica to have a better drummer.

Speaking of which, elsewhere in the interview, Hetfield reveals why he doesn’t think Lars Ulrich will ever steal his job. Discussing those performances of “Am I Evil” with Lars on vocals, Hetfield says:

“He just ran around, he was like a madman, it was so funny… Lars wanted to be the frontman… by the end of the first verse he was winded ’cause he ran all over the place. He was trying to be like Bruce Dickinson or something, jumping off everything and doing the splits… and then that was it… I think that was his fantasy in a five-minute song, and then he was done [laughs].”

Stream or download the episode here.

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