Lars Ulrich: Metallica’s Virtual Writing Sessions Have Suffered From “Significant Complications”

  • Axl Rosenberg

If there’s been any silver lining to this goddamn pandemic, it’s been the time it has allowed artists to create new work. Seemingly everyone and their mother has, understandably, used the forced indoor time to write and/or record new music.

One of the bands who have used this time productively — or so we’ve been lead to believe — is Metallica. After first floating the idea of working on new music while under quarantine in April, by June Lars Ulrich had revealed that the group was, indeed, in writing mode. And less than a week ago, Kirk Hammett said they have “a lot of material” composed for their next album.

So it’s disappointing to now hear Ulrich ostensibly say that the writing sessions haven’t been going so great. Despite having said in September that the quartet are looking to get together in a “bubble” as soon as possible to jam out some of their new ideas in person, that hasn’t happened yet… and modern technology has made virtual jamming difficult.

Speaking at the CNBC Evolve Summit yesterday (Tuesday, November 10), the drummer said:

“[W]e have been trying to do as much as we could in the last seven months, trying to make a difference with our foundation and with our music and with connecting to people. And so we have been working the last six [to] eight weeks virtually.”

He continued:

“Being a rock and roll band and working virtually is not super easy. Time delays, all these things make it really hard. The main thing we miss is being able to hear each other. [Laughs] So if we’re all four in a room together, we can connect with each other and we can hear each other. If I’m playing here in San Francisco, and Kirk [Hammett] and James [Hetfield], our two guitar players, are either in O’ahu or Colorado, there are significant time delays. It’s very hard for us to play at the same time. If I’m doing what we call steering, which means that I’m playing a beat and they’re playing to me, I can’t hear what they’re playing, and vice versa. We can’t all hear each other in a universal fashion. So there are some significant complications we have. Our recording team and our production team are speaking to software makers all over the world [about] how to crack the code on this. Nobody has quite figured it out yet.”

Well, that does sound frustrating. It also makes me wonder how other bands whose members are scattered across the country or the globe are handling the situation. I imagine if there was an easy solution, then Metallica, of all bands, would have access to it.

While Metallica and their people try to get this all sorted out, the band has managed to stay busy during the lockdown in a number of other ways. In May, they released a semi-acoustic, reimagined version of “Blackened.” Then, in August, they hosted a pre-recorded drive-in concert at hundreds of outdoor movie theaters and just released a recording of last year’s S&M2 concert. And a re-worked version of “Nothing Else Matters” is scheduled to appear in Disney’s upcoming Jungle Cruise movie starring The Rock and Emily Blunt.

And on top of all that, the band will play an acoustic livestream concert for charity this coming Saturday, November 14. Get details here.


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