Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and folk-rock singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers discuss musical successes, bad experiences with the press, their connection to Los Angeles, and each of their earliest memories of playing music for Rolling Stone’s Musicians on Musicians interview.
Although they seem like an unlikely pairing because of their musical styles when they first meet on Zoom — with Bridgers at her home in Pasadena, California, and Ulrich at his in the Bay Area — Bridgers explains how she fell in love with Metallica’s music at a very young age. “The first time I heard Metallica, I think was in an off-road video game that my brother got,” she recalls with a smile. “But I just, like, loved the music to it and it happened to be Metallica’s [‘Fuel.’] And then my fandom kind of blossomed.” Ulrich smiles as she explains how she delved into Metallica’s back catalogue from there.
The two musicians ended up speaking for nearly two hours total, and the condensed video premiering here contains many exchanges that did not make it into the print version. Some of these include when Bridgers asks Ulrich how he feels about fans who worship Metallica, Ulrich’s questions about Bridgers’ early bands Sloppy Jane and Einstein’s Dirty Secret and her collaboration with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst (Oblivion Community Center), their views on L.A. as a hub for celebrity culture, and Ulrich’s memory of how he linked up with James Hetfield to form Metallica via a classified ad in 1981.
They also discuss Metallica’s battle with Napster, Bridgers’ earliest influences (Tom Waits and Elliott Smith), Ulrich’s gateway into music (Black Sabbath, “glam bands,” and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal), Bridgers’ new label (Saddest Factory), and Bridgers’ unnatural attempt at a Trent Reznor–style scream. “I have an apathetic voice, and I feel self-conscious that when I scream, I sound like musical theater,” she tells the drummer. “I don’t have a metal, like, aaahh-style scream. I have just a [sweet-sounding] ‘yee-aah’ when I sing loud.” Ulrich rejoins, “Let that be a good thing, OK?” and they both laughed.