Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Metallica: Lars Ulrich reflects on Big 4 US debut

The Big 4 came, they rocked, they conquered Indio, California on Saturday.

Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax rocked more than 50,000 fans and the Empire Polo Grounds to its core, just a week after the Coachella Festival took place on the same site.

The day after the Big 4’s US debut, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich spoke with LA Weekly about the experience.

LA Weekly: How was it playing on the polo fields last night?

Ulrich: It was a little bit windy, but other than that it was great. The kids were great. The band was semi-okay, even though we hadn't played live since November. We jumped in the deep end. I'm a little bit in need for someone to walk on my back for a couple of hours. But I had a good time. A lot of friends came out, a lot of familiar faces from the last 25-30 years, new friends and old friends. All around it was a pretty successful day. People were psyched, the sound was good.

LA Weekly: Did you plan your set any different for this show?

When you play to 50,000 people in that kind of a setting, you primarily want to play songs that people know. You maybe play more of the anthems. Sometimes the really fast songs can get kind of lost in big settings. We play so many different types of set-ups: festivals, stadiums, arenas, amphitheaters. Over the course of that, we've found what works in different situations. When we play arenas, we change the set-list up every day and play lots of obscure songs, album cuts and B-sides, but when you 're playing these really big special events like last night, I don't know if you want to start digging into super-obscure album cuts and play songs people have never heard of. It can bring the vibe down a little bit, especially when people have been standing on the desert floor for six or eight hours in 90 degree heat.

LA Weekly: Last night, when you did "Am I Evil?" you managed to get two members of Slayer onstage this time.

Listen, it keeps going up and different guys show up. If we keep being persistent, we may get everybody up there at some point. I was telling [Slayer guitarist] Kerry King last night after the show, between Sofia [Bulgaria] and last night, we've had all four members of Slayer up there — either for the jam or for the picture on the back of the ['Big 4'] DVD; we're batting a thousand between Sofia and Coachella.

LA Weekly: Why is Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" the song you choose?

I can't tell you a cosmic reason. We felt that you're not going to invite people to come onstage and start playing a Metallica song. That would seem a little selfish, so you want to find a cover song that had some resonance towards what's going on. Everybody's got different influences, different inspirations, but certainly the band Diamond Head has a lot to answer for when it comes to four bands playing out the desert in 2011 in terms of lineage. They're probably one of the biggest reasons that we exist. When [Dave] Mustaine was in Metallica, he was very inspired by them. I know Diamond Head may not have the same relevance for the boys in Slayer, but you've got to find a happy medium at some point. We've got another half-dozen shows this summer. I would like to be a little more adventurous and not rely on the same song if there are continued jams. There are other things we can do, and I know that Tom [Araya] from Slayer was talking about [Metallica's] "The Four Horsemen." Inviting the other bands to come up and play a Metallica song just doesn't seem right.

LA Weekly: Based on what I've heard from them, I think they'd all be up for it.

You know, I'm not afraid to go anywhere. Maybe we'll play a Slayer song instead.

Check out the full interview at LA Weekly here.

The Big 4 – Am I Evil?
Empire Polo Grounds – Indio, CA – April 23, 2011

See also:

Metallica: Big 4 go double-platinum
VIDEO: Metallica, Big 4 rock California
Metallica: Cliff Burton inspired title character in Hesher film
Metallica, Satriani confirmed for Quebec Festival
Metallica, Judas Priest still inspire author Stephen King