[With a D.I.Y. sound] there wasn’t a lot of, “Oh, I’ve got to master my instrument and I’ve got to sit there and learn how to play quadruple paradiddles upside down for six hours.” It wasn’t until a few years later, which we’ve talked about openly, that we [Ulrich and the guitarist Kirk Hammett] were like, “Maybe we should better our skills.” I started taking drum lessons after we’d already put out our first record. Kirk started taking lessons.
Being in a band [might] be more like filmmaking because filmmaking is a collective endeavor. We’re in a garage band, but at some point, if you really want to do it for real, then you’ve got to be disciplined — if nothing else, out of respect for everybody else that you’re on that team with.
SCOTT Movies are collaborative, yes, but they tend to be a one-shot thing. The idea of filmmaking, at least as its been practiced for the last 50 or 70 years, is there’s a guy whose vision this is about and everyone else is serving it.
ULRICH [With a band] you have to learn from what you’ve done, the good things and not good things. We’re all in our mid-50s, and we’re in the middle of creating a new record right now. We’re much better songwriters than we were 30 years ago, but with understanding the craft, you’re weighed down by the options.
So many times when we do interviews, people ask, “In 1987, you said this. In ’95 when this happened, why did you do that? What did you mean?” It’s 25 years later, I can’t tell you because my version of it changes as time goes along. I can’t listen to a record of ours without thinking about where we were when we were recording it, what did the studio look like, what was the drive to the studio every day.
But it’s also fun to sometimes throw that back into the things you can appreciate. Pick something random, [Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”]: You’re watching this movie and it’s incredible, and you go, “OK, what was he doing three hours after that was shot? Did he do a rewrite of the next day’s scene? Was there something that happened that day that made him tell something different to [Leonardo] DiCaprio about this character?” That’s what I was talking about earlier about getting into the head spaces of people that really turn you on.