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Lars Ulrich says Metallica are “into some pretty serious writing” for a new album – but it’s not without its challenges

James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich from Metallica perform at Stade de France on May 12, 2019 in Paris, France
(Image credit: David Wolff - Patrick/Redferns)

Metallica singer and electric guitar player James Hetfield recently revealed that he has “tons of material” written for a new Metallica album. 

Now, in a new interview with Phoebe Bridgers as part of a Musicians on Musicians conversation for Rolling Stone (opens in new tab), ‘tallica drummer Lars Ulrich confirmed that the band is perhaps even further along on a follow-up to Hardwired… to Self-Destruct than we imagined.

“We’re three, four weeks into some pretty serious writing,” he told Bridgers. “And of all the shit – pandemics, fires, politics, race problems, and just fucking looking at the state of the world – it’s so easy just to so fall into a depressive state.

“But writing always makes me feel enthusiastic about what’s next. It’s like, ‘Fuck, there’s an opportunity here to still make the best record, to still make a difference. To still do something that not even turns other people on, but turns me on.’ ”

That said, putting together a tight, thrashy Metallica jam in 2020 isn’t quite so simple. As Ulrich recently stated in an interview with CNBC (opens in new tab), there are some unforeseen challenges to making an album during a pandemic.

“Being in a rock and roll band and working virtually is not super-easy,” he said. “Time delays, all these things make it really hard.”

As for what he misses the most about music-making in pre-COVID days?

“The main thing we miss is being able to hear each other,” Ulrich said. “If we’re all four in a room together we can connect with each other and we can hear each other.”

He continued, “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."

But, Ulrich added, “Our production team is speaking to software makers all over the world to figure out how to crack the code on this.”

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Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.