Metallica's Lars Ulrich loves Abu Dhabi's passion

Backstage before their performance at du Arena, Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich speaks to The National about that 'magical' Abu Dhabi show in 2011 and their forthcoming 3D concert film.

Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich speaks to The National. Mariam Al Nuaimi / The National
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Backstage before their performance at du Arena, Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich speaks to The National about that 'magical' Abu Dhabi show in 2011 and their forthcoming 3D concert film

It took Metallica more than two decades to come to Abu Dhabi, and now you're back just 18 months after your last performance. So did you have a great time during that first show?

When we were here a year and a half ago, it was really magical. Now, I don't say that everywhere. As well as the UAE, there were so many different nationalities - a great energy and shared experience. So when we got the offer to come back three or four months ago, Metallica would call that a no-brainer.

We are now slowly talking to people about other places. Potentially, I am hearing we can play at Doha soon, maybe. There is so much passion here, so much love for the thing that we do and it is somewhat of a new frontier.

How does it feel for the band to be visiting new territories so deep into your career?

It is a blessing. When we started playing a hundred years ago, there were so many parts of the world where the type of music that we were doing was not really accepted. There were a lot of places where people didn't know what we were doing or didn't have enough infrastructure to support a band like us. When we started, we couldn't go to Eastern Europe. Bands rarely played in Latin America and no one came to India and the UAE as far as I know. But it's opening up. It's changing and the world is shrinking. It's great to be in the front lines.

It's been nearly five years since your last album Death Magnetic was released. Do you feel the album resuscitated the band's career in a way?

I lived Metallica every day of my life for the past 32 years. So it never goes anywhere for me. Obviously, I am aware of the press and the sort of perceptions. If you are doing it as long as we have been, you get your ups and downs. Metallica likes to explore and quench our thirst for diversity and new challenges. We do a lot of different things and not everyone appreciates that. Death Magnetic was very positively received and we are grateful for that.

Metallica launched its own label, Blackened Recordings, last year. Any plans to re-release some of the earlier albums?

Now that we own our own records and have our own label, we will probably take each album, remaster them and make them available with the latest technology and find interesting outtakes and additional things that will make it special. You do want to cash in, so if you can put some packages together that are special to the fans, it is worth doing.

You guys are also working on Through The Never, a new 3D concert film. Can you tell us a bit about that?

The show was shot in Vancouver and Edmonton, in the west of Canada, in August 2012. The production crew spent three weeks after that shooting the non-concert footage. It is a very unusual film. You've never seen anything quite like it. In theatres it will be in 3D and is coming out in America in August. We are probably 75 per cent through the editing now.

How is the new album progressing?

We are just writing at the moment and we haven't started making the record. These live shows help indirectly. When we are writing at home a lot, we get kind of locked into that, so getting a chance to come to Abu Dhabi and then Cape Town and Johannesburg next week is kind of Metallica getting out of the house for two weeks. When we come back to write, we are inspired by the energy of playing to 20,000 people each night. The one thing with the band is that when things are the same too long, we want to break free of that. We have horrible attention spans.

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