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Lou Reed Moved Metallica’s James Hetfield + Kirk Hammett to Tears

Metallica
Chris Weeks, Getty Images

Much of the fan feedback on the single ‘The View’ by the Metallica and Lou Reed project has not been overwhelmingly positive. The jagged song, which lives on the ‘Lulu’ album due out on Nov. 1, combines Metallica’s signature, face-melting metal bluster with Reed’s gravelly, spoken word-style vocal delivery over top. But Metallica were able to pull off a seemingly disjointed collaboration such as this because, well, they’re Metallica and they’ve earned it. But getting there wasn’t totally easy, as Reed toppled the guitar titans known as Hammett and Hetfield in the studio.

“It wasn’t ‘This is my s—, do as you’re told,’” drummer Lars Ulrich told Rollings Stone about how the partnership unfolded during the process. “Lou understood we were going to give him something nobody else would.” It truly was collaborative, as the band and Reed worked together, live in the studio. There was no phoning in (or emailing) of parts, so to speak.

Guitarist Kirk Hammett also weighed in on the personal and professional impact of working with Reed, calling the band and the singer “kindred souls.” Hammett admitted that he feels that ‘Tallica and Reed fit each other because they are on the same page on multiple levels. “We both have a clear vision of what you should sound like and say. Also, he has an edge that totally fits. He speaks our language, slightly sarcastic and blunt, like another pea in the pod,” Hammett explained.

While Reed is the ripe age of 69 and the members of Metallica are in their late ’40s, there’s no generation gap to bridge, since they unite through music.

Hammett shared a poignant moment from the ‘Lulu’ process, revealing that when recording the vocals for ‘Junior Dad,’ which closes ‘Lulu,’ Reed pushed him to the verge of tears, since his father had just died that spring. “I couldn’t stay in the room,” Hammett said. 10 seconds later, Hetfield followed suit. Hammett revealed, “James comes into the kitchen, sobbing. Lou took down the guitar players in Metallica in one fell swoop. After that, anything Lou wanted, he had me. I’d play it.” Not many people out their can lay claim to the fact that they brought down Hammett and Hetfield, so that’s truly saying something.

Ulrich opened up about his thoughts on why this project works for all parties. He said that ‘Lulu’ is “almost like two languages. We have m-e-t-a-l in our name. But we can go f—ing anywhere and do anything.” Metallica have been going f—ing anywhere and doing anything they’ve wanted since the early ’90s when their sound started to evolve and that’s the primary reason that ‘Lulu’ shouldn’t be quite so jarring to longtime fans!

Ulrich summed it up best, saying that when he listened to the final mastered version of ‘Lulu’ himself, it struck him as “really unique.” So unique, in fact, that, “This makes… ‘And Justice for All’ sound like the first Ramones album.”

Those are big words, so we’ll look forward to hearing the rest of ‘Lulu’ to see how it stacks up.

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