Lady Gaga’s duet with Metallica at Sunday’s Grammy Awards was a collaboration that, upon its announcement, surprised many; its participants, however, were blindsided by something else in the heat of the moment: technical difficulties.
Speaking to Julia Cunningham and Kyle Anderson on Tuesday morning, Metallica co-founder and drummer Lars Ulrich discussed the malfunction-ridden performance, telling the L.A. Daily hosts the gig — which saw lead singer James Hetfield’s microphone failing for the first verse of “Moth Into Flame” — was a “clusterf—” in the best possible way.
“It was totally energetic and crazy. It was just energy and excitement and nuttiness, so her being right in my face just added to the whole exhilarating energy that was happening for those few minutes,” he said. “I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve gotten 700 texts from people just saying the chaos and tornado-like energy of it really translated well on TV.”
Adele, who performed an emotional tribute to late singer George Michael at the Recording Academy’s 59th annual ceremony, similarly got off to a rocky start that night, restarting a cover of “Fastlove” due to vocal issues. Ulrich said Metallica, unlike the U.K. superstar, didn’t halt their set because of the microphone glitch’s technical nature.
“In the heat of that moment, it’s very difficult when you’re aware of the fact that something’s not functioning, [but] you don’t know where in the chain of possible mishaps [it could be]. You don’t know where that’s going on, so you really don’t have a choice other than to just keep battling on. It’s live television,” he said. “If it’s musical or creative… no disrespect to [Adele]… if it’s something that’s more of a screw-up, it’s like, OK, I can start it over, I screwed up. But when it’s technical, you don’t know if it’s just in our ear up onstage… A couple of people where like, ‘Why didn’t you stop the song?’ We didn’t know there was a problem… you have no choice but to carry on. The ensuing chaos and energy and complete over-the-top excitement… it was absolutely awesome.”
Despite the challenges of performing at the Grammys, Ulrich said he savored the creative spirit Gaga brought to the band’s hard-rocking energy.
“She’s sort of a metal chick at heart and has a reputation for growing up in that Jersey/New York metal scene and has a reputation of being super easy and cool, and I just threw [the idea of collaborating] at her,” he revealed. “We talked internally about having a female collaborator to sing one of the songs for the new album… it came together super organic and really quick… she’s very autonomous and independent and she makes her own decisions. She is the coolest, sweetest, most easygoing person you’ll ever meet.”
As for fans who didn’t quite understand the reason behind pairing a pop icon with one of the world’s most influential metal bands, Ulrich chalks the chemistry up to both parties’ mutual appreciation for performative bravura.
“[We thought] let’s not make this ‘Gaga and Metallica’ or ‘you and us,’ but let’s make it all of us, the five of us together,” he said. “[Gaga was] the fifth member of the band. It’s not two different worlds, it’s all of us together.”
Listen to Ulrich’s interview with Cunningham and Anderson above. L.A Daily airs daily at 7 p.m. ET on Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM channel 105.