When Metallica staged a three-night residency in Mexico City last month, they invited along a formidable opening artist: Iggy Pop. The singer did sets of Stooges songs and his solo material at each of the gigs, and joined the metal group for a ragged rendition of “TV Eye.” But sometime during the stint, Pop sat down with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich for an in-depth chat that covered working with their mutual friend, Lou Reed, as well as playing on the same bill together, the record label they used to share (Elektra) and the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, among other topics. The full interview is available at Metallica.com, but the section on working with Reed is premiering here.
Among anecdotes about gigging with Reed and seeing the Velvet Underground, Pop explains how he first met the singer-songwriter. “I met him through Main Man, who were the managers of David Bowie,” he says. “They were about to sign me to a management deal, and they were working with Lou as producers. And they convinced Lou that, ‘We’ve got this new artist … we don’t really like his music. He needs some good songs!’ So the idea was Lou was gonna sell me some songs, you know? But if a Lou song is any good, Lou is gonna do it, right? That’s how I met him, we were sitting in a room and he was playing me songs, and we got drunk on his acoustic guitar.”
Similarly, Ulrich explained how performing together at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert led Metallica and Lou Reed to create the critically maligned Lulu. The drummer shared that Reed was very hurt by the reception the record got. “We’re pretty thick-skinned,” Ulrich said. “We’ve been through ups and downs for years, and if we like something we’d done and we enjoy the experience, that’s what matters to us. But I think he was really saddened by the response to [Lulu] and I felt … it was weird. The roles changed at the end where I became almost more maternal to him, and had to like sort of comfort him through this very difficult month when the record came out and it just got fucking slammed.”
Elsewhere in the video, Pop shares his opinion of Lulu (“[Lou] was trying to be a true
artist”) and opines on why it got a stale reception, and both artists discuss how Reed didn’t let people know that he was as sick as he was around the time of his death.
Metallica are currently ramping up to a North American summer tour in support of last year’s Hardwired … to Self-Destruct, during which they’ll be playing stadiums. “I’m just excited about the fact that that’s still possible to go out and play stadiums 36 years into a career and that people give a shit,” Ulrich told Rolling Stone in February. “It’s going to be awesome.”
Pop, who recently turned 70, is currently excited about the prospect of singing jazz. He sang three tracks on Loneliness Road, a new album from keyboardist Jamie Saft, featuring bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bobby Previte. “Since I was a little kid I’ve always been very fond of quieter, maybe more introspective sort of music – everything from Floyd Cramer to Debussy to Sinatra’s September of My Years – that song cycle was on constant rotation in our little trailer when I was going to high school,” Pop recently told Rolling Stone of his interest in the project. “I’d just been out rocking hard in different ways all year, so it was a pleasure to listen to [Saft’s] music.”
Listen to Metallica’s Lars Ulrich discuss the band’s controversial battle with Napster.