Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich spoke in a recent interview with Marc Benioff and explained the reasons of Metallica’s enduring success. He said (transcriped by Blabbermouth):
“I think it’s two-fold. Number one is that from a creative point of view, you have to be willing to always look ahead rather than look behind. You have to turn over every rock, every stone and open your eyes, open your ears, be inspired, let those influences and all that great culture – whether it’s music, whether it’s art, whether it’s film; whatever it is – just take you, and you have to be open to letting the process take you where it’s gonna go.
It becomes this interesting dichotomy between sort of steering it but also being open to letting… almost like hanging on, letting it kind of go where it’s going and just making sure it doesn’t derail, like a train, kind of.
So, for 35 years, we’ve tried to never look back when we were making records, always try to challenge ourselves and see what else was out there that could inspire us to let the music take us some place differently.
Secondly, when you’re in a group, when you’re in a collective, you really have to know how to work with other people. You have to learn empathy, you have to learn… when somebody else is steering, when you’re gonna take a backseat and when you… that balance point about it’s really important that this idea solidifies itself to somebody else in the band.
Even though I may not personally agree with it 100%, in terms of the balancing points of an internal dynamic that works in a group setting, you have to just know how to work with other people.
When you’re 20 years old in a group, in a music group, that’s like being in a gang, and that’s easy. When you’re 50 years old and everybody gets their own patterns, and you talk to anybody – whether they’re in The Rolling Stones or our friends in U2 or the Red Hot Chili Peppers or any of the great bands that have been through Dreamforce in the last couple of years, being in a collective, being in a group, being in a band in your 50s requires a lot of work.
We spend more time internally in Metallica on just making the band function. We spend more resources on making the band function in terms of giving everybody the space they need.
You know, somebody needs to take spring break off to go with their kids – we’re not working that week. Somebody needs this, somebody needs that… It’s all an open door, because the minute you do something that’s gonna put a bandmember in a position of doing something where he has something else in his head, that’s the beginning of the end.
So you’ve gotta spend a lot of time working on the collective and the group dynamics. We somehow turned a corner maybe 10, 15 years ago – we all grew up a little bit, and we sort of reprioritized our outlook on life.
The first 20 years of Metallica, it was the band first and the individual and the family second. And about 10, 15 years ago, we swapped the model, and now it’s the individual and the families first and Metallica second, and that has given us a functioning dynamic that has… We’re in better shape than we’ve ever been, and that’s part of the reason, I think, we’re enjoying the best time we’ve had in 25 years.”
Click here to entire interview.