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Lars Ulrich Tells What His Dad Thinks of Metallica

Metallica fans are most likely familiar with drummer Lars Ulrich’s father, Torben Ulrich. As Lars puts it, his dad has been “a fairly large presence in and out of Metallica’s history for 35 years.”

Torben Ulrich is a former professional tennis player as well as a serious jazz fan (tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon is Lars’ godfather). Given his jazz leanings, one has to wonder what Torben thinks of the thrash metal his son makes in Metallica.

Lars opened up on the subject in a recent TV interview that’s been shared by Sound Box.

“I think he appreciates Metallica,” Ulrich says, “especially when we’re daring and when we’re a little unorthodox, when we play strange sideways tempos that I don’t even know what [they] are. He appreciates that side of it. When we play a little safer and a little straighter, he raises an eyebrow.”

Torben was clearly displeased with the group’s work on 2003’s St. Anger.

“There’s a famous clip in the movie Some Kind of Monster that we did [in 2004]. There’s a scene where he comes to listen to some of the stuff we were working on [for St. Anger], and you sort of see him standing over the mixing desk and he doesn’t look too pleased.

“And I ask him, ‘What do you think of this music?’ And there’s a long, long, long pause. And he goes, ‘I would delete that.’ A lot of Metallica fans know him by association, so it’s very cool.”

As Lars revealed this past January, his father is a fan of Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, the group’s latest album, released last November.

“I played him the first two songs a couple of months back and he dug it,” Lars says. “He was very into it. He thought it sounded very much like Metallica.

“I saw him for Thanksgiving dinner and he unprovoked—unprovoked!—started talking to me about how awesome the record was. I got more positive vibes out of him than I have for any Metallica record for quite some time.

“He got it on CD, and he asked if he could also have—[laughs] he’s 88 years old!—he’s got an iPod now, and he asked if he could have it in digital form. So I’ll take that as a good sign. The days of ‘Delete that’ are over, at least on this record.”

You can watch the Sound Box clip below. The clip about his dad begins at 3:45.

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Christopher Scapelliti
Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.