Lars Ulrich on Lady Gaga: 'The Quintessential Fifth Member of This Band'

Metallica drummer also talks "slight technical snafu" at Grammys and possible future collaborations with singer

Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich tells us about the "slight technical snafu" at their Grammys and why Lady Gaga is band's "quintessential fifth member." Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

Metallica's Grammy performance with Lady Gaga may not have gone exactly as they envisioned – a stagehand reportedly unplugged the wire to singer James Hetfield's microphone before the group went onstage – but as drummer Lars Ulrich tells Rolling Stone, a "slight technical snafu" couldn't diminish the band's enthusiasm for their temporary new singer.

What was supposed to be a Hetfield-Gaga duet for the band's "Moth Into Flame" accidentally became a half-song, as Hetfield suffered complete mic failure for much of the song. While he would eventually join Lady Gaga at her mic, a visibly pissed Hetfield knocked down his mic stand at the end of the performance and threw his guitar offstage.

"There was a slight technical snafu, but that's not really something you can do much about," Ulrich says. "You just learn to live with that side of it. It happened to Adele last year; I guess this year it was our turn."

The perpetually enthusiastic drummer was more keen to talk about Gaga, the "quintessential perfect fifth member of this band." "Her voice, her attitude, her outlook on everything is so awesome," he says. "[The performance] was so effortless and organic and she just has the spirit of hard rock and metal flowing through her veins. It comes really easy for her. There's nothing contrived; she just has this super warm, easy energy."

In a recent interview with Apple Music, Gaga spoke about how the unlikely collaboration came together, saying, "I was at Bradley [Cooper's] house with Lars and we were just hanging out. He's amazing. I went to see them live. I saw them recently and we were watching the show; those guys play better than they've played in their whole lives."

With Metallica gearing up for the North American leg of their WorldWired Tour and Gaga prepping for her Joanne world tour, a reunion may not happen for a while. But Ulrich hopes last week's performance was more than an one-off. "We already started fast-forwarding to the next chapter when we can do more of this," he says. "It's not one of those '20 lawyers, strategists and managers trying to force two people from two different worlds to figure out how to spend four minutes together on a national telecast.' Of any of these undertakings, this is about as organic and authentic as there's ever been one. We're just getting started."

Additional reporting by Kory Grow

Metallica and Lady Gaga partnered for a blistering performance of "Moth Into Flame" at the Grammy Awards.