[By Lars Ulrich of Metallica]
My dad had a music room in the house I grew up in in Copenhagen. There would be all kinds of crazy stuff coming out of there: Hendrix, the Doors, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin, John Coltrane. And the Velvet Underground. I remember we had some pretty next-level sessions with “Heroin” and “Sweet Jane” and Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal. What [VU] were doing, it existed on its own planet, autonomous and free from everything else. As I got to understand later, it was very New York.
I first met Lou about 10 years ago, and we got a little more intimate around the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [25th-anniversary concert] in 2009. We were in a rehearsal room and he walked in and didn’t say a whole lot. He turned on his guitar and started complaining about everybody being too loud, and this was wrong and that was wrong, and it was like, “Ah, his reputation precedes him!” Like, they didn’t send a doppelgänger — it really was him. But over the course of the sound check and the gig, it got better and better. Eventually we realized we were long-lost soul mates in terms of attitudes and ways of looking at the world. By the time we were done at Madison Square Garden, he asked if we could make a record. It really went that quickly. The music that we created with him [on the 2011 collaboration Lulu], it was like I didn’t even know what hit me. I woke up three weeks later and it was over. Most Metallica records, it takes three weeks just to load the equipment in. What was he like to work with? It was inspiring, it was maddening, it was impulsive, it was all over the place. But it was very pure and honest, and he always came from a place of intuition and heart. I’m so happy I have that for the rest of my life.
I think it was Brian Eno who said that not a lot of people bought the first Velvet Underground record, but every single one of them ended up forming a band. What a f—ing great quote. Every musician who marches to his own tune and is carving out his own thing and not just sucking up to the business owes something to Lou Reed. It all traces back to him. He’s the godfather of that. He’s the Adam. He’s ground zero. He’s the big bang of people who do it their own way. So all of us who like to think somewhat out of the box, we all owe something to him. (As told to Kyle Anderson)