LARS ULRICH reveals inspiration for METALLICA's concert 'snake pit'
In a new interview with Apple Music‘s Zane Lowe, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich spoke about how he and his bandmates came up with the idea of creating the Snake Pit, a standing-only area built into the center of the stage so that a select group of fans could experience the show on a more human scale. He said: “One of our managers back in New York in the late Eighties/early Nineties [had] the idea that when you would go to a restaurant that the best seat in the restaurant was actually not in the house — [it] was in the kitchen. So in crazy, cool restaurants, if you could somehow get into the kitchen and eat in the kitchen, you were in there where all the action was. So the idea that came out of that for that Snake Pit on the ‘Black Album’ tour was basically to be in the middle of the stage. So we had a stage that was shaped like a diamond, and there were 30, 40 spots in the middle of that stage. Radio contest winners, friends, family, a few crazy metalheads from around the audience would end up in that snake pit, and they would be onstage with us. And then it morphed. Basically, for, I guess, 30 years now, the Snake Pit has been an integral part of at least a METALLICA indoor show. And then in the stadiums when we’ve been playing outside, it’s been sort of this extension of the stage. You’ve seen it, but they’ve never been, like, crazy big. There’s been room for a couple of hundred here, a couple hundred there, whatever.”
Ulrich added that the current iteration of the Snake Pit holds 900 to 1,200 people, depending on the rules of the local fire marshal.
Snake Pit ticket packages for METALLICA‘s “M72” world tour reportedly run from $1,038 up to a whopping $4,398, limited to two per fan, but you can still enter to win them if you’re a member of the fan club.
In “A Year And A Half In The Life Of Metallica”, a documentary about the making of the “Black Album”, Lars said the Snake Pit was part of a larger plan to push the envelope. “This time around, we really wanted to fuck with the concept of arena rock,” he said. “We came up with a stage that was definitely different than what any other bands had done: playing every song in a different formation [where we’d have] drums moving around, James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] moving around, [and] the Snake Pit [with] kids in the middle.”
Late last month, METALLICA kicked off its “M72” world tour 2023-2024 with two spectacular performances at Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam, Netherlands with support from ARCHITECTS and MAMMOTH WVH on night one and Floor Jansen and ICE NINE KILLS on night two. The career-spanning sets featured the live debut of “If Darkness Had A Son” and “You Must Burn!” along with songs off their newest album “72 Seasons”, including “Screaming Suicide”, “Sleepwalk My Life Away” and the title track “72 Seasons”. In total, METALLICA performed 32 different songs taken from its 11 studio albums.
METALLICA is visiting a total of 22 different cities around the world and playing two nights in each city.
The trek sees the band playing two nights in every city it visits — with each “No Repeat Weekend” featuring two completely different setlists and support lineups. The “M72” tour features a bold new in-the-round stage design that relocates the famed METALLICA Snake Pit to center stage, as well as the “I Disappear” full-tour pass and the debut of discounted tickets for fans under 16 years of age.
Opening acts include FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, ICE NINE KILLS, MAMMOTH WVH, PANTERA, ARCHITECTS, GRETA VAN FLEET and VOLBEAT.
METALLICA promises fans who purchase a two-day ticket that they won’t see the same song twice for a total of over 30 songs spanning the band’s 40-plus-year career.
Each weekend offers a variety of “Enhanced Experiences”, ranging from access to a meet-and-greet, production and stage tour, food and beverage in the “Black Box” lounge to early entry into the venue and the Snake Pit. The very popular “Black Laminate” is back, now known as the “I Disappear Ticket”, and is the ultimate pass for the fan who wants to run away with METALLICA for multiple weekends.
A single “I Disappear” ticket purchase gives you access to as many of METALLICA‘s 46 headlining tour dates across Europe and North America in 2023 and 2024 as you choose. You decide how many shows you’d like to attend around the world, and for how long, and METALLICA will make it as easy as possible.
Watch the fan-filmed drum-cam video of Lars Ulrich during their opening concert for the M72 Tour in Amsterdam below.
In a recent interview with Consequence, Ulrich said that he prides himself on the ability to play what the song calls for, adding that a talented drummer will play what’s best for the song and can perform simply, even though they are capable of doing more when needed.
“It’s often easier to play fast than it is to play slow,” Ulrich explained. “Or it’s easier to sit down and figure out how to play 600 notes in a guitar solo than it is to play 20 that are tasty. You can learn the 600 notes from a book, but it’s much harder to learn how, like an Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix or Ritchie Blackmore, some of these guys weave in and out of time signatures. That’s not something that’s so easy to write down. That’s more feel, and feel is less easily definable in a book than is ability.
“I’ve said over the years, people like AC/DC‘s Phil Rudd, people like THE ROLLING STONES‘ Charlie Watts, or people like Clive Burr from IRON MAIDEN, guys who are known for swing and swagger, is as equal or more important.”
He concluded: “I guess for me, I’m just more interested in landing where what the song needs than ‘look at what I could do with backwards paradiddles standing on my head, dangling from the ceiling’ or whatever.”
Lars‘s latest comments came more than two years after he told METALLICA‘s So What! fan-club magazine that he is no longer bothered by people’s criticism of his drumming abilities. At the time, the Danish-born musician said: “Unlike years ago, I basically don’t read any of the interviews that the other guys in METALLICA]do. 20 or 30 years ago, we would all sit and fucking read every page of Kerrang! and every page of Circus magazine, see what so-and-so’s saying and what the other band members were saying, what James (Hetfield, METALLICA guitarist/vocalist) was saying about this and that. Now there’s just none of that. I also don’t really read what people say about METALLICA.
“I’ll say that occasionally, once every six months or something like that, it’s kind of fun to go through the trolling section just because of the ridiculousness of all of it, but it’s not something that I do regularly anymore,” he revealed. “20 years ago, it would’ve been, ‘Oh, my God, somebody said something bad,’ or, ‘That person said a nasty comment in the comments section,’ or whatever. Now, none of that really means anything to me.”
Back in 2016, Ulrich, who has gotten a lot of flak over the years from people who accused him of being a poor drummer, told the “Talk Is Jericho” podcast that he went through a period in the mid-1980s “that probably culminated in the ‘Justice’ album where I felt sort of compelled to try to show ability.”
According to Lars, part of the reason for him feeling insecure about his abilities was the increased competition from some of his peers.
“Listen, when you’ve got Dave Lombardo and Charlie Benante breathing down your back, it was, like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta…’ I tried to step it up a little bit and tried to do my own thing and do all this crazy shit,” he said. “I was trying really hard to push the drums kind of into the foreground. And then, after like a year or two of that, I was, like, ‘Okay. Seriously? Just do your thing. Chill out. Support the riffs. Do what’s best for the song.’ So since around I guess the late ’80s — so I guess it’s been, like, 25 years now — the only thing that’s really interested me is just doing the best thing for the song.”
Asked in a 2008 interview with U.K.’s Rhythm magazine if he was troubled by the fact that he’s gotten a lot of flak over the years from people who accused him of being a poor drummer, Lars said: “It used to, back in the day — and I spent a lot of time overcompensating for that on the early records. But then you wake up one day and you’re like, whatever. It hasn’t bothered me for many years. I’m no Joey Jordison, I’m no Mike Portnoy, and I have nothing but love and respect and admiration for all those guys. When I hear some of the young dudes, they blow my mind with what they can do with their feet and stuff — but it’s not something that makes me go, ‘I need to feel better about myself so I’m gonna learn how to do what they do with my feet.’ I’m not a particularly accomplished drummer but I am very, very, very good at understanding the role of the drums next to James Hetfield‘s rhythm guitar. I guarantee you I’m the best guy in the world for that, and that’s enough for me.”
Ulrich stated about his playing ability in a 2012 interview with DRUM! magazine: “I usually feel like I’ve regressed. (Laughs) I’m like, ‘Why can’t I do that anymore?'” He continued: “I can’t say that I necessarily sit down to practice, like, ‘I’m going to play and practice so I can get better.’ What happens is that I just sit down and kind of play to just more stay in shape.”
Ulrich added: “You know, METALLICA was up to two or three months off in 2011, and I would sit down, I have an iPod next to my drums so I can play along to all kind of crazy stuff, and try to see if I can land in the same zip code of some of that stuff occasionally. But I can’t say that I sit down to necessarily practice to sort of get better. For most of my stuff, it’s about listening and about interpreting stuff that I’m listening to. So all the kind of sitting down and, you know, ‘Now I’m going to do thirty-second-note paradiddles standing on my head — you know what I mean? I don’t do that kind of stuff so much. For me it’s more about the regimen of staying in shape, running every day, eating healthy, you know, being on top of that side of it.”