Drummer Lars Ulrich talks about tonight's performance with the San Francisco Symphony

By Dan Snierson
Updated April 22, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Rose Hartman/Globe Photos

Move over, Mozart, roll over, Beethoven, and take a chill pill, Tchaikovsky: In one of the music industry’s oddest marriages, heavy metal gods Metallica will tear up a Berkeley, Calif., stage tonight with… the San Francisco Symphony, led by composer Michael Kamen. No, it’s not every day you get to enjoy the brutal, distorted anthems from ”Kill ‘Em All” and ”Ride The Lightning” with the help of violas, clarinets and french horns. ”We jump at as many opportunities as we can to do something different,” says Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. ”And we have a tendency to pull this type of s— off. Once in awhile, it ends up a complete disaster, but this one doesn’t feel like that.”

After rehearsing only a few times earlier this week, Metallica and the SFS will perform 22 songs from the band’s two-decade career. (”Some obvious things, some nonobvious things, some fast stuff, some slow stuff, some light stuff, some dark stuff,” offers Ulrich.) Not surprisingly, the collaboration has sparked as much head-scratching curiosity as excitement. ”People are getting so hung up on the little stuff: ‘Are the kids going to stand in their seats or sit down? Is there going to be alcohol served? What are you guys going to wear on stage?”’ Ulrich says with a chuckle. ”The beauty of these types of things is, Who knows? It should be a completely spontaneous moment. If you feel like standing up, stand up. If you feel like standing on your head, stand on your head. Just enjoy it at your own f—in’ level.” Well, Mozart wouldn’t have said it exactly like that. But point well taken.