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Remembering The Time Metallica Spent Millions Of Dollars Making Their Own Feature Film

Lars Ulrich on Through The Never and the “spirit” of Metallica.

On October 13, 2013, we welcomed Metallica back onto the cover of the magazine.

We caught up with the band in New York City, as the Californian quartet prepared for a headline show at the 1,506-capacity Apollo Theatre, an exclusive show for SiriusXM competition winners. Time to talk about a new album? Don’t be daft. The band, who’ve never done things by halves, were preparing to premiere their full-length feature film.

Through The Never stars Dane DeHaan as Trip, a young roadie who is sent on a mission to collect a mystery item. The film – a part-thriller/part-concert film which cost an estimated $32 million to make – a retina-searing affair which gives nods to the band’s iconography throughout their career: the Master Of Puppets crucifixes, Lady Justice who graces the cover of 1988’s …And Justice For All, and a big toilet from the Metal Up Your Ass era.

“We’re slightly out of our minds but that’s no surprise to anybody,” Lars Ulrich said of the ambitious project. “The main thing it says about Metallica is that I think we, increasingly, are just finding that there are so many ways to communicate and express ourselves,” says Lars, “and the model of album, tour, album, tour is a little out-dated for us, and a little limiting for us.”

But, for all the popcorn thrills the movie offered, many suggested it was a big budget way of putting off a trip to the studio to work on the follow-up to 2008’s Death Magnetic.

“Obviously, at the root of all of it is music and writing songs, and obviously we’re looking forward to going back to making another record,” he said. “But it jut feels like the opportunity to challenge ourselves with these different kinds of experiences is really right now an important thing for us.

“By always jumping out into these strange adventures, I think it’s really, really good for Metallica and it keeps us mentally healthy and challenged,” he added. “It’s in the DNA make-up of this band – we love jumping out into stuff, never knowing where we’re going to land, and halfway down, it’s like, ‘Oops! We forgot the parachute. We always forget those fucking parachutes. And we never quite know where we’re landing. And to me, that’s the Metallica spirit, and it’s what we enjoy.”

Two years on from Lulu, the experimental album with the late Lou Reed and the Through The Never film, it’s clear that the band were exploring different ideas and the fans would have to wait for a new album, thank you very much.

“I know there are cynics out there; I’m not deaf and I’m not blind; and we hear it – and we also know where every one of them lives, by the way!” said Lars. “But I understand that when you do all this stuff, you set yourself up as a target for that. But at the end of the day, I feel that the spirit of Metallica is about freedom and is about turning ourselves inwards, and that honesty and purity. And for us to keep ourselves challenged and satisfied creatively is the most important thing, and that ultimately is what people respond to.”

And now, with a film to their name, whatever next? Their own blend of whiskey? Make their own collection of watches? You can never tell with that band.

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