Metallica’s Lars Ulrich: I 100-Percent Stand Behind ‘St. Anger’ Snare Drum Sound
The sound of Lars Ulrich's snare drum on Metallica's St. Anger is still a frequently debated topic, even nearly two decades later. But the drummer fully backs the drum tone that's caught so much flak over the years.
During the 2003 album's recording, Ulrich mostly played his drum sans snares — the stiff wires held beneath the instrument that gives it its distinct "pop." Instead, St. Anger emits the telltale "ring" that many musicians would equate with an inexperienced drummer forgetting to flip the lever that engages the snares.
In actuality, the St. Anger drum sound may have started that way, but the move was ultimately embodied as a conscious decision of Ulrich's. Further, it's one the Metallica drummer still supports wholeheartedly, as he recently explained to host Eddie Trunk on an episode Sirius XM's Trunk Nation.
"I stand behind it a hundred percent," Ulrich responded when asked about the drum sound that's become such a point of contention among Metallica fans. "Because at that moment, that was the truth."
But how did the Metallica members and producer Bob Rock come to capture such a hotly contested drum sound? According to Ulrich, it's because both he and the band always employ a forward-looking approach.
"I'm always just looking ahead, always thinking about the next thing," the drummer continued on the July 29 radio show, as told by Blabbermouth. "Whether it's Metallica always thinking ahead, or in my personal life, or in relationships, whatever I'm doing, I'm just always thinking ahead."
He added that, amid the St. Anger sessions, Metallica frontman James Hetfield was "playing a riff in the control room. And I ran up. I was, like, 'I need to put a beat behind that.' I ran into the tracking room and sat down and played a couple of beats over this riff to not lose the energy of the moment, and I forgot to turn the snare on. And then we were listening back to it, and I was like, 'Wow! That sound kind of fits that riff, and it sounds weirdly odd and kind of cool.' And then I just kind of left the snare off."
Seventeen years after St. Anger's release, the unusual sound is still being discussed by metalheads. Rock even recently indicated that the unorthodox drum tone "kept the band together" and inspired them to continue.
"He just would not go back," the producer told Tone-Talk of Ulrich. "I'm not blaming him, this was about, basically, if you can wrap around a concept, this was the sound of the drums when they were rehearsing the album."
Metallica: A Photo Timeline of Their Remarkable Career