The drummer that made Lars Ulrich want to give up: “I wanted to quit after I saw him play” tt

Being a travelling musician isn’t always for the faint of heart. Even though it might be easy trying to put in the hours on an instrument, the amount of time it takes to go from one tour to the next and deliver with the same amount of intensity every night takes a feat of superhuman strength to pull off. While Lars Ulrich may not have claimed to be the best in his field both on or off the stage, he admitted that seeing The Mars Volta made him want to throw down his sticks for the final time.

Then again, there are still a number of artists who claim that Ulrich was never the greatest drummer in the world to begin with. Before the band had even started, James Hetfield remembered just how imprecise his Danish counterpart was when he was playing drums in his garage, occasionally having to help him when the cymbals kept falling over.

Q&A: Lars Ulrich
Once Ulrich got the hang of things, he was already ready to follow in the footsteps of his idols like Neil Peart and John Bonham. Rather than hold down a groove, Ulrich was more concerned with throwing in as many drum fills as he could, leaving Hetfield to serve as the de facto drummer with his rhythm guitar.

After trying their hand at prog rock and making some of the most unnecessarily long songs of their career on And Justice for All, The Black Album marked the moment when Ulrich actually settled down enough to make classics like ‘Enter Sandman’. While it took the group almost a decade in the spotlight before Ulrich learned how to settle down and keep time, other prog bands were already coming up in their wake.

Lars Ulrich Birthday

In the age before Nirvana, artists like Dream Theater had started working on their own masterpieces, often featuring Herculian-style strength to pull off most songs on Images and Words. Whereas they may have come from the classic rock tradition, the basis of At The Drive-In made the kind of progressive music with a punk ethos.

After dissolving following Relationship of Command, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Cedric Bixler Zavala would take their prog visions into The Mars Volta, featuring the percussion stylings of Jon Theodore. Outside of the amazing melodic feats on albums like Deloused in the Comatorium, Theodore has the power to melt the audience’s brains if he’s not careful, often sounding like he’s pummeling the hell out of the listener on every song.

When discussing his favourite artistsUlrich said that Theodore was beyond anything he had ever seen, saying, “Jon’s the best drummer I’ve seen in ten years. He plays with fire and energy, the weight of somebody like Phil Taylor from Motörhead and Elvin Jones. I wanted to quit after I saw him play. ‘I’m not following that little f*cker.’”

While Ulrich has kept a steady tempo ever since the release of St Anger, Theodore has only gotten more strange as the years have gone on, going on to work with Maynard James Keenan’s Puscifer before becoming the main drummer in Queens of the Stone Age. Ulrich may have been able to inspire many artists to pick up a pair of sticks, but Theodore is the one artist who reminds kids what can be done when you push yourself hard enough.

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