Loyal readers may remember the Smoking Section's previous boast that we overwhelmed Metallica's Lars Ulrich in an epic pingpong match in June of '05. "Next time you're in San Francisco," says Lars, "we'll have some beers – and a rematch." So stay tuned. In the meantime, though, Metallica have hunkered down in an S.F. studio, breaking ground on their ninth studio disc, with producer Rick Rubin. After opening two shows for the Stones last November, 'Tallica got the itch to stitch together a new album. "We've been writing, jamming, hanging for about two months," Lars says. "Right now it's me, James and Rob – Kirk shows up once in a while." On their last album, St. Anger, the band wrote and recorded simultaneously; this time, they'll first spend about six months composing brain-rattling riffs and mining recordings of pre-show jams from the 5t. Angertour for material. The boys are currently booking some one-off summer dates to break the monotony. "Japan, South Africa, Bumfuck — we'll play anywhere," says Lars. "I'll draw the line at bar mitzvahs, but backyard keggers for sure."
The Strokes kicked off their U.S. tour in grand style in New York – you'll dig the new light show and, finally, encores! In the house were friends and family, including the dudes in Coldplay. CP fans freaked after Chris Martin declared at the Brit Awards. "We won't see you for a long time," fueling speculation that the band might split up. But Martin assures the SS that the end is not near. "Coldhead are having the best tour of our lives," the cheeky mofo tells us. "We're plotting how to change music forever, for the better. Our best stuff is yet to come – I know it is, 'cause we've written it." Coldplay took off after the show to ring in Martin's twenty-ninth b-day (March 2nd), while the Strokes raged at an East Village pool hall. Next up for the Strokes is their first gig at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. While in Music City, they told the SS that their squad will face off in a baseball game against the Kings of Leon camp, who just started preproduction on their third album, to be titled Because of the Times. Believe it!
At JazzFest 2005 in New Orleans, the Smoking Section was lucky enough to catch the feel-good funk-jam explosion of Dumpstaphunk at a late-night club gig. Fronted by Neville Brothers offspring Ian (son of Art) and Ivan (Aaron's kid), the band played four gigs in the Big Easy over Mardi Gras weekend, including an emotional performance at Tipitina's. "It was our first time back at Tip's." says Ian. "It felt so good to be in there." They plan to tour wildly this year in the U.S. – so if you see Dumpstaphunk in your local listings, check 'em out for sure – and will soon begin work on their first album. All true music fans must report to JazzFest in April and May, where the 'Phunk will be all over the place. See ya there.
This story is from the March 23rd, 2006 issue of Rolling Stone.