Is Loyalty Metallica’s Secret Weapon?
Lars Ulrich said his attitude regarding what Metallica are about has changed in recent years, arguing that no one, including the band members, really owned them.
His comments came in a new Pollstar article that explores the reasons behind Metallica’s success. With more than 22 million tickets sold since 1982, and a total of $1.4 billion grossed, the thrash icons are second to only U2 in terms of touring success. By comparison, the report noted that AC/DC had sold 14.3 million tickets while Ozzy Osbourne had sold 10 million and Guns N’ Roses had grossed $800 million.
“I keep thinking and forcing myself to think all our best years are still ahead of us,” Ulrich said, joking, “We may even turn professional and do this full time one day. ... It’s always, ‘What’s your favorite record?’ It’s the next one, the one we haven’t recorded yet. It’s always about the possibilities, always about what can be, what’s coming. That, to me, is what this is all about, and I think that attitude is a big part of the why Metallica still connects to so many people around the world.”
Cliff Burnstein, who’s co-managed the band with Q Prime partner Pete Mensch since 1984, said that the "natural order of things is you have your peak, it’s hard to match it, you decline, somebody else comes and takes the crown away. … That’s just the way it’s been in music forever. How interesting is it that Metallica, taking that 1991 as a starting point, even though that was their fifth album, [and] here we are 28 years later and the band is huge. Nobody has eclipsed Metallica.”
Pollstar noted many of the band’s touring crew, office staff and agents have been part of the extended team since the ‘80s, suggesting that loyalty on both sides of the stage was a major player in Metallica's continued success.
“I used to say, ‘Metallica, man, that’s James [Hetfield] and I and Kirk [Hammet] and Rob [Trujillo] … we are Metallica and Metallica belongs to us, and you don’t fuck with Metallica,’” Ulrich said. “I don’t think like that at all anymore. I think that Metallica is all of us, and Metallica belongs to everyone. Metallica is more like a state of mind or ethereal position or situation. Nobody owns Metallica. It’s a place we go and a place we escape to and a place where we can feel better about who we are and connect to other people and to the fucking universe.”