Metallica's Lars Ulrich on Lulu: Venture out of the box, and fans 'have a hernia'

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Lou Reed’s recent collaboration with Metallica found its share of detractors, and that criticism was apparently hard for the veteran rocker to absorb.

“It was difficult for Lou Reed because he takes everything very personally,” Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich told radio station DC101. “And I think he was very surprised.”

Ulrich said the band tried to prepare Reed for the brave new work of wired metal fans: “We told him all along: ‘Listen, there are some very, very, very hardcore metal fans out there that like everything pre-packaged in a particular little box that looks like this, and the minute that you slightly veer outside of that, then they have a hernia.'”

Ulrich then attempted to back away from that statement, adding: “And that’s fine — I’m fine with that …”

Lulu, released in October, was based on German writer Frank Wedekind’s 1913 play about an abused dancer. Reed said he has been physically threatened by Metallica who were upset with the results.

“Obviously, it’s fantastic in 2012 that the Internet gives everybody access to voicing their opinions, and I think it’s an incredible medium to communicate and to bring the world closer,” Ulrich said. “But obviously, as an artist, or somebody who is creating something, you’ve gotta be careful how deep you dive into what everybody’s talking about, because it could really screw with your mind. I’ve always been in a place where I’m pretty thick-skinned, so it doesn’t bug me that much.”

Here’s a look back at our thoughts on the Lou Reed and Metallica. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

LOU REED AND METALLICA – LULU (2011): As per usual, there were a lot of reviewers out there straining themselves to come up with clever ways to say how much they hated this record. This reminds me of St. Anger, which had a kind of brutal and claustrophobic intensity that really dug in. And speaking of brutal, Frank Wedekind’s Lulu plays were drenched in it — a young German dancer sexing it up with rich men, rampant violence, and even a collision with Jack the Ripper. So all of those comments about Reed’s “random mumblings” are more than a little off base. Me, I kinda dig it when Reed is croaking out “Jack, I beseech you!!” as the boys are grinding away behind him.

LOU REED – ANIMAL SERENADE (2004): Before I began paying attention to Lou Reed, these were the only songs of his that made any impression on me. All of Lester Bangs’ rants had no effect. Velvet who? Didn’t matter. There was as yet no ‘there’ there for my adolescent brain to muckle onto. It took a few years of living to figure out that, hey, there’s just something about that weird dude and his even weirder voice. Fast forward to 2004, and this live album. Instead of the early-Animal GlamRockOnSteroids sound, Lou’s very talented band delivers the goods in an elegant, almost cerebral fashion. The influence of wife and fellow art-weirdo Laurie Anderson, maybe?

ON SECOND THOUGHT: METALLICA – ST. ANGER (2003): Some trademark riffs were noticeable here and there, but essentially the band’s sound on St. Anger was all new, and as such I had to listen to this as if the band was new to me too. And what I heard was, if not especially groundbreaking, an aggressive, honest assault that was straining to free itself of the past while doing the very things the band knows the fans love about them. No, it’s still not perfect: James Hetfield’s singing is not a highlight by any means (where is that growl we all loved so much, James?), and there’s nary a guitar solo out of Kirk Hammett to be found. But if you give it an honest chance, it might just work its way into you the way their old material did.

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