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Metallica's Lars Ulrich

Bob Rock Explains The Sound Of Lars Ulrich’s Snare On Metallica’s “St. Anger”


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Despite attaining 2x multi-platinum status, Metallica‘s 2003 album “St. Anger” remains one of the band’s most derided albums. The main concern of that criticism often lies in the sound of drummer Lars Ulrich‘s snare on the record, which, well if you’ve heard it, you know what I’m talking about. Speaking recently with ‘Tone-Talk‘ on that aspect of the album, “St. Anger” producer Bob Rock commented:

“I’m fine with that [sound]. The thing is, this is interesting, there is a story: while we were doing that [album], we went to their clubhouse; we were in San Francisco, we went to their Oakland place where they rehearsed with Cliff [Burton]. And we had a great time, and Lars told me about his drums, how they were set up in a certain place.

We were looking for inspiration, let’s put it this way, because James [Hetfield] wasn’t there, so I said, ‘Pull off the drums, the double kick’ because we were fooling around with other drums. So he set up the drums in the rehearsal room, we were on our way, and Lars just kept staring at the drums. Finally, he sat behind and said, ‘Just give me a snare drum.’ I had bought a Plexi Ludwig snare because I wanted to try it, and he put it on the drum kit, and he said, ‘That’s the sound.’

And I said, ‘What?’…

So basically, we did a demo, and I used two 58s, a 58 on the kick drum and a couple of whatever simple mics were around, and we did a demo, and that was the sound, and he just would not go back. I’m not blaming him, this was about, basically, if you can wrap around a concept, this was the sound of the drums when they were rehearsing the album, it’s basically the closest to them being in that clubhouse, and no matter what everybody says, it kept the band together, and that inspired them to go on.

So I’m OK with all the flak I’ve taken. It’s a fucking snare-drum sound, give it a break.”

Rock later stated:

“The thing that really made a change in my perspective, as an engineer and producer, was ‘Achtung Baby’ by U2, where they played with the perception of drums. Sometimes you barely hear the drums, sometimes the bass is the loudest thing; in other words, throwing away the rulebook. And part of ‘St. Anger’ is just throwing away the rulebook and saying, ‘Why do we have to set up the drums the same just because what it has to do with metal?’

I was thinking more like ‘Raw Power,’ The Stooges album, and without the solos, there was a band from San Francisco called The Fucking Champs, all they played was riffs spun together like a punk/metal band.

And so Lars and I were talking, and it’s kind of a cool thing, and we just said if you can put a great solo with Kirk, go ahead, and it just never worked.”

[via Ultimate-guitar.com]

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