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Producer Bob Rock On Lars Ulrich’s St. Anger Snare Sound: “I’m Okay With All The Flak I’ve Taken”

Bob Rock explains Lars Ulrich’s controversial snare drum sound on Metallica’s 2003 album St. Anger.

Since the album’s release in 2003, the sound of St. Anger – and, more specifically, Lars Ulrich’s tinny snare drum – has been debated by fans, critics, and even Metallica themselves for its surprising and controversial tone. But producer Bob Rock says that he is “okay with all the flak” that he has taken for it, light-heartedly adding, “Give it a break.”

In a new interview with Tone-Talk, Bob revealed of how the sound initially came about while they were working in the studio: “We were looking for inspiration, let’s put it this way, because James [Hetfield, frontman] wasn’t there, so I said, ‘Pull off the drums, the double kick’ because we were fooling around with other drums. So he set up the drums in the rehearsal room, we were on our way, and Lars just kept staring at the drums. Finally, he sat behind and said, ‘Just give me a snare drum.’ I had bought a Plexi Ludwig snare because I wanted to try it, and he put it on the drum kit, and he said, ‘That’s the sound.’”

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The producer recalls that his reaction was simply ‘What?’, but they went on to demo anyway.

“…That was the sound, and [Lars] just would not go back,” Bob continues. “I’m not blaming him, this was about, basically, if you can wrap around a concept, this was the sound of the drums when they were rehearsing the album, it’s basically the closest to them being in that clubhouse, and no matter what everybody says, it kept the band together, and that inspired them to go on.

He concludes: “So I’m okay with all the flak I’ve taken. It’s a fucking snare-drum sound, give it a break.”

Check out the full interview below:

In a recent interview with Kerrang!, Metallica were asked about performing St. Anger’s title-track at the San Quentin State Prison for the song’s official video.

“Well, there was a lot of tension in the air, for sure,” said guitarist Kirk Hammett. “There were some women who came with us and they had to be restricted to a certain area because it was just too dangerous for them to even be seen. At one point, one of the inmates screamed over to me and said, ‘Hey, Kirk, I know your mom!’ and I was like, ‘Excuse me?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, I used to mow her lawn!’ He added that he knew so-and-so from the neighbourhood, too. I was like, ‘I might know more people here than I thought!’ But it was cool, it was really mellow.

“All the inmates were really appreciative of the fact that we were there and it was a distraction for them. I got a really cool thing from one of the correctional officers. It was a magazine with us on the cover and the subscription tag said ‘Richard Ramirez’ – the ‘Night Stalker’ killer who was at San Quentin while we were playing. He was a Metallica fan, but he was on death row and he could only hear us. I still have the magazine. It’s a nice little novelty item.”

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Posted on July 22nd 2020, 11:38am
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