Lars Ulrich was supposed to be in Brazil this week, playing concerts with his band Metallica in front of tens of thousands of fans. Instead, he’s sitting at home in Northern California, wondering if he and his bandmates will need to figure out how to record an album over Zoom.
“We’re talking about how we can be a band again,” Ulrich said. “At its core essence, [we are] four guys in a room connected via Zoom just making music together. We’re excited to see what that looks like.”
At a time when no one knows how long the current situation will last, Ulrich and his bandmates are trying to get creative with their next steps.
“If you and I and the rest of the world are still sitting here six months from now, a year from now, I would say there is a very good chance [of making an album],” he said.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff spoke with Ulrich this week as part of our Leading Through Change virtual event series about how he’s getting through this time and what he’s doing to help others via Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation. Here are some highlights from the conversation:
On giving back — All Within My Hands
Metallica’s longstanding success is not only about connecting with its fans via music, but also about giving back to those in need. This is why the band started All Within My Hands, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating sustainable communities through workforce education and aiding in the fight against hunger.
“You wake up every day with a little bit of, ‘What can I do today to have an impact within my family, within my local community, on a global basis?’” he said.
These uncertain times have strengthened the ties between the foundation and the Metallica fanbase.
“It feels like a sense of community,” Ulrich said. “For once, there’s a sense of one planet, one people, and everything else is secondary to that.”
On staying connected with their fan base
Ulrich said the word “connect” has always been top of mind for Metallica throughout the band’s history and now more than ever.
“We want to connect with like-minded music lovers all over the world. That is the takeaway from everything that this pandemic has brought upon us. How do we find ways to connect and engage with our loved ones and the people that are like-minded like we are?”
On working from home
Ulrich is challenging himself to find new ways to be creative.
“Everybody who has creative juices flowing through their veins is being challenged,” he said. “How can we be creative with a new paradigm? How can we be creative in our own homes? How can we be creative in ways [where] we don’t rely on all of the tools that we relied on in the last 50-100 years?”
On getting back to work and the future for Metallica
The band has already postponed its April South America tour and, as they look ahead to the future, Ulrich knows it may be some time before they play a live show in front of their fans again.
“I hope that we can come out and play and we can connect and bring people together in these situations through music,” he said. “The idea of bringing thousands of people together in concert settings is not the right idea for the health and safety of everybody in 2020.”
On the silver lining of this experience
With Ulrich off the road and his two oldest sons, Myles and Layne, now home from their undergraduate studies in New York, there’s been more family time than usual.
“I don’t think as a family we’ve ever been closer than we have been in the last six weeks,” he said. “That, in itself, is such a treasure, to be able to sit here and everyday reconnect with your kids.”
Watch the full interview with Lars Ulrich:
This conversation is part of our Leading Through Change series, providing thought leadership, tips, and resources to help business leaders manage through crisis. Prior video interviews include:
- Planning ahead amidst uncertainty, with BT Chief Executive Philip Jansen and Chrissie Hynde
- Uniting to feed hope to the world, with Jose Andres and Dave Matthews
- Serving customers from home and the heart, with the founders of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee and Lionel Ritchie
- Giving people a chance to lead with Soledad O’Brien and Sheryl Crow