Lars Ulrich, (born on December 26, 1963) is the drummer and co-founder of California heavy metal band Metallica. He became a pioneer of fast thrash metal drum-beats and is highly influential as a drummer. He was born in Gentofte, Denmark. He is regarded as one of the most badass drummers known to metal, even though many criticize his style, as "simple."
Lars Ulrich was born on December 26, 1963 in Gentofte, Denmark to Torben Ulrich, a tennis player. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon was Ulrich's godfather. In February 1973, Torben obtained five passes for five of his friends to a Deep Purple concert that was being held in the same Copenhagen stadium as one of his tournaments. When it was discovered that one of the friends could not go, their ticket was handed over to the nine year-old Ulrich. The young Ulrich found himself mesmerized by the performance, buying the band's Fireball album the next day. The concert and the album had a considerable impact on Ulrich, inspiring his entrance into the world of rock and roll and later on, heavy metal. As a result of his newfound interest in music, he received his first drum kit from his grandmother at the age of twelve, a Ludwig. Ulrich originally intended to play tennis, and he moved to America in 1980.
In 1981, Ulrich discovered British heavy metal band Diamond Head. He was excited about the band's style of music after purchasing its debut album Lightning to the Nations (1980). He traveled from San Francisco to London to see the band perform live at the Woolwich Odeon. However, Ulrich had not planned the trip out properly and was left without anywhere to go after the performance. He managed to meet the band backstage and explain the lengths he had taken to see them. The band warmed to him and lead guitarist Brian Tatler let him stay with him in Birmingham, where Ulrich spent the next few weeks touring with the band. Ulrich remains a fan of Diamond Head and mixed its album The Best of Diamond Head.
Later in 1981, Ulrich met James Hetfield in Downey, California they formed the thrash metal band Metallica. He got the name "Metallica" from a friend, Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a heavy metal fanzine he was creating, and Metallica was one of the options, the other being "Metal Mania." Lars encouraged him to choose Metal Mania, and used the name Metallica for himself. He became known as a pioneer of fast thrash drum beats, featured on many of Metallica's early songs, such as "Metal Militia" from Kill 'Em All, "Fight Fire with Fire" from Ride the Lightning, "Battery" and "Damage Inc" from Master of Puppets and "Dyers Eve" from ...And Justice for All. He has since been considerably influential due to both the popularity of his band, as well as his drum techniques, such as the double bass drum in the song "One" (...And Justice for All) and the opening of "Enter Sandman" (Metallica). Since the release of Metallica, Ulrich adopted a more focused and precise style of drumming, and reduced his kit from a nine-piece to a seven-piece.
Ulrich's voice can be heard in a few Metallica songs, including "Hero of the Day", "Battery", "The Memory Remains," "Enter Sandman," "The Unforgiven II," "Frantic," and "Purify". Ulrich's voice can also be heard in the opening seconds of "Leper Messiah" the closing seconds of "Tuesday's Gone" and he also counts to four in Danish on the St. Anger music video.
He will make his acting debut in the HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn, which began filming in March 2011. Ulrich made a brief cameo appearance as himself in the film Get Him to the Greek, as the partner of the character Jackie Q.
Ulrich was also ranked #5 on the top 5 metal drummers from That Metal Show.
Metallica filed a lawsuit against the company for copyright infringement and racketeering. In July 2000, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee after Metallica's entire catalogue, including the then-unfinished track "I Disappear" was found to be freely available for download on the service. The case was settled out-of-court, resulting in more than 300,000 Napster users being banned from the service. Since the Napster ordeal, Ulrich was quoted by LAUNCHcast as having some regrets:
|“||I wish that I was more...you know, I felt kind of ambushed by the whole thing because I didn't really know enough about what we were getting ourselves into when we jumped. [...] We didn't know enough about the kind of grassroots thing, and what had been going on the last couple of months in the country as this whole new phenomenon was going on. We were just so stuck in our controlling ways of wanting to control everything that had to do with Metallica. So we were caught off guard and we had a little bit of a rougher landing on that one than on other times than when we just blindly leaped. But you know, I'm still proud of the fact that we did leap... and I took a lot of hits and it was difficult.||”|
Ulrich's drumming style has changed throughout his career. During the 1980's, he was known for his fast, aggressive and, more or less, basic thrash beats. He would often utilize the double bass technique (which is influenced greatly from the song "Overkill" by Motorhead), which has become highly popular among heavy metal drummers. The best examples of this are "Metal Militia", (Kill 'Em All), "Fight Fire with Fire" (Ride the Lightning), "Battery" (Master of Puppets), "Damage Inc" (Master of Puppets), "Blackened" (...And Justice for All), "One" (...And Justice for All), "That Was Just Your Life" (Death Magnetic), "All Nightmare Long" (Death Magnetic) and, arguably his most extreme, "Dyers Eve" (...And Justice for All), among others. Ulrich uses groove in his drum style, including clean and fast double bass beats in many songs and heavy drum fills. He has been known to drum in sync with the rhythm guitar played by James Hetfield. However, during the 1990s and early 2000s he simplified his drum rhythms in order to fit the simplification in Metallica's overall musical style. This started with The Black Album and roughly ended with St. Anger. With Metallica's ninth album, Death Magnetic, Ulrich returned to his style from the 1980s, in which he played more complex and fast rhythms. Ulrich has also named other heavy metal drummers such as Ian Paice and Bill Ward as influences on his playing.
Ulrich endorses Tama Drums (where he is one of the few endorsees to have had a full signature drum kit as well as a signature lacquer finish), Zildjian Cymbals and Remo Drumheads. He is rarely, if ever, seen without these brands onstage. He was an endorser of Calato Regal Tip drumsticks, before switching to Easton Ahead in 1994 because he said in an interview that wood sticks break during his playing. He would use one wood stick in his hand and the Ahead stick in another because he liked the sound of wood hitting cymbals during studio sessions. After that, Tama Drums has produced two Lars Ulrich Signature Snare drums, one with a steel shell (with diamond plate-like finish) and another made out of bell brass which was once Tama's most expensive snare drum on the regular catalogue. Both snare drums measure 14x6.5".
Current tour kit (2008–2011)
- Drums – Tama
- 10"×8" Tom
- 12"×10" Tom
- 16"×14" Floor Tom
- 16"×16" Floor Tom
- 22"×16" Bass Drum (×2)
- 14"×6.5" Lars Ulrich Signature Snare Drum
- Note: Ulrich uses the standard Lars Ulrich Signature LU1465 snare live on tour (diamond plate), while he uses both the LU1465 and LU1465BB (bell brass) in the studio, depending on what type of sound he wants.
- Cymbals – Zildjian
- 14" Z Custom Dyno Beat Hi-Hats
- 19" A Custom Projection Crash
- 18" A Custom Projection Crash (×2)
- 17" A Custom Projection Crash
- 18" Oriental China Trash
- 20" Oriental China Trash
- Note: Ulrich will occasionally use a 22" A Custom Ping Ride when playing live. He has also used splash cymbals in past tours.
- All Crash Cymbals are in Brilliant Finish
- In the past (mainly the St. Anger era) he had used a number of K Zildjians or K Customs in the studio.
- Drumheads –Remo
- Toms – Coated Emperor | Clear Ambassador
- Bass – Clear Powerstroke 3/Powersonic (depending on venue)| Ebony Powerstroke 3
- Snare – Coated Controlled Sound (black dot on reverse) | Clear Hazy Ambassador
- Hardware – Tama and Drum Workshop
- Tama IronCobra Power-Glide Single Pedal (×2)
- Tama IronCobra Lever-Glide Hi-Hat Stand
- Tama Roadpro Cymbal Stand w/Counterweight (×2)
- Tama Roadpro Cymbal Stand (×3)
- Tama Roadpro Double Tom Stand
- Tama Roadpro Snare Stand
- Tama Cymbal Holder (×2)
- Tama Multi-Clamp (×2)
- Tama Hi-Hat Attachment
- Tama Ergo-Rider Drum Throne
- DW Drop-Lock Hi-Hat Clutch
- Ahead Lars Ulrich Signature Sticks (1994–present)
- Calato Regal Tip Lars Ulrich Signature sticks (1981–1993)
- Too calm down and unwind after certain gigs, Lars listens to Jazz music.