Metallica Drummer Lars Ulrich On Launching The Band’s Reissue Project

Even after decades of creating some of the greatest metal anthems in music history, Metallica is still going strong with an eye towards creating even more new music for future generations of Metallica fans, but that doesn’t mean the band is above looking back on their roots. In fact, while the online community is buzzing over the fact that Lars Ulrich nearly beat out James Hetfield for the position of Metallica frontman, Ulrich, Hetfield, and the rest of Metallica are busy working on a project that will ultimately result in the reissuing of Metallica’s complete discography.

Lars Ulrich Opens Up About Reissuing Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All And Ride the Lightning Albums

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Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning are two of Metallica’s most influential albums, so it seems only fitting that the band would begin with those early albums in reissuing their studio albums, but what prompted Metallica to begin such an ambitious project in the first place?

Lars Ulrich credits the work of others, such as U2 and Deep Purple, commenting that he was very impressed by the work both bands did in reissuing their past albums. While Lars says it feels good to have the first two albums reissued and available to fans, he adds that it’s a surreal feeling to be working on new projects, and, at the same time, looking back on their past successes.

Reissuing past albums has become a grand project, reveals the Metallica drummer. While fans may have the impression that Metallica is simply restoring tracks for a better sound, Ulrich reveals that it’s much more than that. In fact, Lars says they had hired someone two years ago to begin the process, which involves traveling the world and searching record company vaults for lost or forgotten Metallica recordings.

“I’m particularly fond of some of the video stuff that has not been released yet,” Ulrich says, when asked what recovered Metallica material has most impressed him. “There’s all the raw footage of an interview James and I did at Day on the Green in 1985. It was done with a stationary camera on us for about 15 or 20 minutes. Just seeing that unedited is just really cool. Our mannerisms and the dynamic between the two of us is really interesting to me.”

Each album reissue consists of a box set that includes rare interviews, demos, and studio recordings, as well as customized booklets that revisits Metallica’s past with concert and in-studio images. Ulrich says fans can expect even more in future box sets, because they’re rediscovering so many things that they thought had been lost over the past 30 years.

“So there will be even more goodies that we will be able to be put in the subsequent releases. But I think this is an awesome place to start, and off we go.”

Metallica Mix-Up: Lars Ulrich Almost Took The Lead Singer Spot From James Hetfield

As Metallica first came together many years ago, the band once considered having Ulrich replace Hetfield as the lead singer and frontman, due to James’ inability to exude confidence on stage, but the band’s former manager reveals this option was only briefly considered.

“Lars and I planned a lot of stuff. But James wasn’t the most confident of singers. I don’t think he felt comfortable,” said former Metallica manager, Jon ‘Jonny Z’ Zazula. “At one point there was even talk of Lars becoming the frontman. For about five seconds.”

Another option considered at the time was to bring in a new singer and one of those offered the position was John Bush of Armored Saint. As he explains it, Bush turned down the offer from Metallica, because, at that time, Armored Saint showed much more promise than Metallica and Bush had close friendships with his Armored Saints band mates. Bush points out that everything worked out for the best in the end, because James Hetfield really stepped up and made a name for himself as the Metallica frontman.

“Some time after Kill ‘Em All had come out, I heard the same thing again, but I never understood that because James was singing great then and he was doing a great job. I understood the lack of confidence back in ’82 but not for Ride The Lightning. James owns that record.”

[Image by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]