Lars Ulrich was asked by Music Week to comment on his 2012 interview with Spin in which he said that if Metallica became the band everyone wanted them to be, it would kill them. The drummer replied:
“What I was attempting to say is that in the somewhat conservative corners of the hard rock world there is a desire to have the bands put out the same record every couple of years, with the same sleeve, the same creative approach and be predictable.
“I’ve always said that’s not the band that we’re interested in being. We’ve fought against that for over three decades. We’ve always stood very hard against being pigeon-holed. We really like doing things our way.”
During a separate Clash interview, Ulrich said:
“We have had an at-times slightly tumultuous relationship with the metal community because we have never wanted to play by the rules that were set, and so, within that world there is – and it’s important that I choose my words carefully here – there can be a preference for sameness.
“There can be a slightly conservative creative approach, which is that people play it safe rather than take risks…
“There are particular aesthetics and stuff – you know, the album covers are supposed to look this way, and you’re supposed to look this way and act this way and have this certain kind of attitude or demeanour about you and all this type of stuff, and we’ve always found a lot of that stuff really silly, and we found a lot of it stifling and limiting and really almost suffocating.
“I remember when the second record came out, ‘Ride the Lightning’, and there was acoustic guitars on it.
“There were members of the metal community that were infuriated about the fact that there was an acoustic guitar on a Metallica record. So, there has always been this dichotomy about we’re sort of leading the cavalry, but at the same time, we’re not leading the cavalry the way that a portion of that world wants us to lead it, and so we’ve always been somewhat at odds — somewhat at odds, not at odds — and there’s occasionally been some friction there.
“You know, ‘They cut their hair,’ or, ‘They do a photo shoot in Saint Laurent jackets,’ or whatever. It’s, like, who gives a shit? That’s what we’re doing today, and tomorrow we’ll do something else.
“And so, it’s that kind of one-track approach that, for me as a person, has never been… You know, I’m really interested, I’m really curious, I’m really up for whatever – ‘Let’s try this,’ ‘Let’s try that,’ ‘We tried that, didn’t like that too much…’ You gotta get out there and live, and if you don’t live then you suffocate.
“You only get one life, and all the rest of it, so it’s like our time on the planet is way too short to have that much willful limit of your own options.
“So there has been times where that has created a little bit of a friction within the more conservative elements of the hard rock community, yes.”