For a long time, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich lived above a San Francisco dance club called Popscene. According to locals, he’d go downstairs some nights just to hang out and mingle with the schmoes. So one time after work I went there with the sole intention of meeting the Danish drummer. I planned on striking up a conversation with him and then becoming his best friend. As I waited for Lars, I drank whiskey and tried to dance with all the goth kids. I couldn’t tell the guys from the girls, so I kind of just kept to myself by the bar. I couldn’t wait to meet Lars. But the drunker I got, the more my intentions changed. A couple hours into the night I became restless and decided that instead of a traditional greeting I’d give him a monumental titty twister — or purple nurple, if you will. It made sense, in a drunken comical sort of way. And Lars would totally get it.
About nine Jack and Cokes later I spotted him. He was wearing red leather pants, which seemed uncharacteristic for Lars, a seemingly humble fellow. But given Metallica’s aural shift from raw, gritty thrash (Garage Days) to MTV-ready, close-cropped metal (St. Anger), red leather pants didn’t seem all that outrageous.
As I approached him, Lars looked a bit fatter, shorter, and worse for the wear than I had expected. And he had this shitty “I’m rich” smirk on his face (like the one Hugh Hefner has sported since 1855, or whenever he was born). Before Lars could react, my thumb and forefinger latched onto his right nipple like pit-bull jaws on a newborn’s head. As I twisted his tiny nub, I realized that I was actually very angry, which was surprising. But, I mean, I was drunk, thinking, with their little hairdos and their MTV appearances … what the hell happened to Metallica?
Seriously. Popularity did not suit the band that once played some of the grimiest thrash in America. After all, there were incredibly popular metal bands like Lamb of God, whose albums, such as As the Palaces Burn, melded pounding, heavy drums with technical riffs that didn’t make metal fans cringe like Metallica’s cock rock Reload did. Despite the name change (from the totally badass Burn the Priest to the way less badass Lamb of God), the band, through a thin veil of popularity, still kept its impressive metal composure.
I think I was mostly pissed off at Lars because fans of heavy music knew there were so many other metal bands that were getting pushed aside by Metallica’s mainstream machine. In Flames, for instance (who would later go on to tour with Children of Bodom and Sepultura), who always just played what they did best: melodic death metal. Those guys have kept it simple, experimenting with delicate instrumentation, even becoming well known for their drastic change of sound. But In Flames wasn’t catering to anybody like Metallica seemed to be.
And it’s not like there’s a template for what good metal is. Take Savannah, Georgia’s Kylesa, who are probably one of the most successful experimental metal bands to date. At worst, average metal fans describe Kylesa as “interesting” because of their tendency to stray from classic metal into an atmospheric jam-band vibe. But not even they wear red leather pants.
The point is, during that time, in the early 2000s, I was sick of Metallica. And so were a lot of other metal fans. Which is probably why I was holding onto Lars’s nipple for dear life, twisting it like a radio dial that wasn’t getting reception.
“What the fuck … please!” Lars screamed. He might have been crying when I finally let go.
And then I felt a firm hand on my shoulder. And then another hand grabbed my neck. Within seconds, I could feel fists bouncing my head into other fists.
“Jesus Christ, it was just a joke,” I said, as I was dragged out to the alleyway by a bunch of women. Or men.
“What are you doing?” asked a bouncer as I lay on the ground clutching my belly.
“It was a joke between me and Lars,” I pleaded.
“If you’re talking about Metallica Lars, he’s on tour. And he doesn’t live here anymore. That wasn’t Lars. Idiot.”
I was left in the alleyway for dead, thinking, “I guess Lars wouldn’t get fat and wear red leather pants.”
If anything, this is an apology to the stranger who could seriously stunt-double for Metallica’s Lars Ulrich if they needed him to. For what it’s worth, I’ve learned a lesson. And I hope your nipple has healed nicely.