Metallica ‘Ride the Lightning’ Producer: Lars’ Drumming Was ‘Absolutely Useless’
Early Metallica producer Flemming Rasmussen recently looked back at the making of Ride the Lightning. In doing so, he recalled that Lars Ulrich's drumming wasn't as precise as he would've preferred at the start of the sessions.
Rasmussen co-produced the 1984 effort along with the members of Metallica. This partnership would continue with Master of Puppets and …And Justice for All. But when the team first started Lightning, Ulrich had a problem that plagues many drummers: He rushed the timing of his drum fills.
"I thought he was absolutely useless," Rasmussen remembered in an overview with Metal Hammer. "The very first thing I asked when he started playing was, 'Does everything start on an upbeat?' And he went, 'What's an upbeat?'"
To counteract the issue, the producer went to work with the Metallica drummer on sharpening his pace. He even enlisted roadie Flemming Larsen — a musician who had some history with fellow thrash metal players Artillery — to help Ulrich with a crash course in drum fundamentals.
"We started telling him about beats," Rasmussen continued. "That they have to be an equal length of time between that hit, that hit and that hit, and you have to be able to count to four before you come in again. Then he could play a really good fill that nobody else had thought of doing at that time."
It's not the first instance that the Metallica associate has offered a more humanizing portrait of the influential metal legends. Regarding …And Justice for All's notorious absence of audible bass guitar, the producer in 2016 passed the buck to the album's mixers and the band itself.
"It was Lars and [Metallica frontman] James [Hetfield] who said to turn the bass down," Rasmussen explained at the time. "I know that for a fact because I asked them."
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