Lars Ulrich, the drummer and co-founder of Metallica, talked about the musical style of the band during the early years and explained why they didn’t make the Led Zeppelin cover nights.

Ulrich has taken part in the latest episode of SiriusXM‘s Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk’ and revealed what kind of a path they pursued as a band at the beginning of their musical journey. He said that they began by covering some lesser-known songs of the musicians they were inspired by.

In the 80s, when they formed Metallica, there were two kinds of way to come into prominence, Lars Ulrich said. He explained that you were either expected to cover the bar favorites that include well-known Led Zeppelin songs, or play your originals.

Since they wanted to put their own style into their music and they had no original songs back then, Ulrich said that they combined the two ways. They had covered some rare and cool songs till their own material replaced the covers.

Here is what Lars Ulrich said during the conversation:

“You have to remember that, for all intents and purposes, Metallica started as a cover band. So when we got together, and we were there in Southern California in February or March of ’82, there were kind of two paths at the time.

One was that you basically were sort of like a cover band and you would play bar favorites — you’d go out and play ‘Smoke On The Water’ or ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ or ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ or ‘Black Dog’; that was kind of one thing.

The other thing was you would play all, it was called ‘originals‘ at the time — you would play your originals. We weren’t particularly interested in going out and playing a Led Zeppelin evening, and we didn’t have any songs that were, quote, originals, but at the same time, we were full of spunk and full of piss and full of vinegar and ready to go and wanted to go out and play and interact and sweat and the whole thing.”

He continued:

“So we basically came up with another way, which was a combination of the two, which was we’ll play a bunch of cover songs, but they were all songs that basically nobody knew. So we didn’t go out and say, ‘Now we’re playing an hour’s worth of material and they’re all our own songs,’ and we didn’t go out and play an hour’s worth of Led Zeppelin songs — we went out and played Diamond Head songs and Blitzkrieg songs and Savage songs and all these different cover songs.

Then we had an hour’s worth of material and we played shows all over Southern California, and it was super fun. So we played four or five Diamond Head songs, and all these other things, and it sort of got us out, got us playing, and we were playing gigs.

And then, back in the rehearsal studio, we were writing and working on our new material, and, obviously, gradually, our own material replaced the cover songs. But all those songs, whether it’s the ‘Am I Evil’s of the world or the ‘Helpless’s or the ‘Let It Loose’ or songs like ‘Blitzkrieg or whatever, obviously, those songs have remained a pretty big part of who we are.”

You can check out the rest of the interview here.