Lars Ulrich is a mercurial type. Never too concerned with what other people think, Ulrich has been the lead captain of the good ship Metallica through 40 years of internal strife, drug addiction, death, and shifting musical styles. You can blame him for anything: his drums, his band moved away from thrash metal, his choice of snare drum on Holy Wrath. It doesn’t matter because he will bounce back and he will live to lead the ship another day.
From time to time more trivial things will be presented to Ulrich. Sometimes these can be sweet, like every time he returns to his home country of Denmark and brags about his youth as an aspiring tennis player. But other times it can be about the picture, something that metal music and metal fans as a whole usually have a particular take on.
The Metallica fan base, in particular, seems to be embracing the “metalhead” aesthetic, which can include biker clothing, leather, and tattoos. This was brought to the attention of Ulrich when he took part in an interview with Atlanta affiliate NBC 11 Alive in 2017. When asked why he didn’t have a tattoo himself, despite his involvement in the scene heavy metal which tends to favor body art, Ulrich kept it simple.
“I never really thought about why I didn’t do it,” he said. “It’s just the idea of someone sticking needles in me, leaving me with permanent ink stains, just seems… it’s kind of like, I don’t know, why don’t you eat charcoal or don’t you jump off the top of the Empire State Building? It just doesn’t seem in the range of, sort of, what I would call “normal behavior.”
Ulrich is a bit flippant about it and laughs as he makes these statements. The musician clearly hasn’t thought about what he’s saying before he says it, and seems a bit confused by his own comments once he’s stopped making them. He also insists that there is no disrespect for anyone who may have tattoos (or anyone who would like to jump off the Empire State Building) and promptly requests that the “normal behavior” part of the building be removed. remark.
In the end, Ulrich repeats the simple truth he was trying to articulate all the time: “Tattoos are not for me”. Ulrich looks slightly puzzled and turns the tables on the interviewer about why he doesn’t have tattoos, only to make the couple laugh when the interviewer gives the same answer. All in all, it’s a light moment that wasn’t meant to offend, but it’s still quite funny to see Ulrich realize midway through his sentence that maybe just said something stupid.
Check out the interview below, with the tattoo conversation starting at 11:30 am.