When Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl phoned up the drummer with and asked him to take part, Ulrich tells Stern (transcription via Blabbermouth), "Before he was done explaining it, I just said, 'Yes, Dave. I'll be there. Just tell me what you want and I'll show up with bells and whistles on."
"Straying outside of the Metallica world is not the most comfortable thing for me," he admits, explaining, "I think a big part of why we just love staying inside the Metallica universe is because there's that safety in numbers, and we just support each other and have that thing. But playing with Grohl and the other three Foo Fighters guys, and then at Wembley we did, with Brian Johnson, the AC/DC singer, we did an AC/DC set, and it was so much fucking fun to play."
Lars Ulrich Plays AC/DC's "Back in Black" at Taylor Hawkins Tribute (London)
Ulrich, who guested on The Howard Stern show to promote Metallica's newly announced 72 Seasons album and the debut single "Lux Aeterna," says he likes to use the term "wheelhouse" in describing what type of cover songs are more in his comfort zone and with an energy he's more familiar with.
"I love Rush — [but] If they had said, 'Come up and play '2112' with Alex [Lifeson] and Geddy [Lee], I'd go, 'I think there's somebody more qualified to do that than me.' But playing those AC/DC songs with the four Foo Fighters guys and Brian was just a fucking next-level magical experience," he recalls, "And then in L.A., a couple of weeks later, we did a Black Sabbath medley with Geezer Butler, O.G. bass player and absolutely one of the geniuses of the early days of hard rock and metal, we did a couple of Black Sabbath songs. So it was great fun to go do that."
Lars Ulrich Plays Black Sabbath's "Supernaut" + "Paranoid" at Taylor Hawkins Tribute (Los Angeles)
Circling back on the Rush comment, Stern prods Ulrich and asks if he could play a Rush song with the band's two surviving members, Lifeson and Lee.
"Could I do it? Obviously, playing with Alex and Geddy would be incredible," the drummer responds, naming Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and Grohl as two peers who handled that Rush material well onstage at the tribute events.
As for himself, tackling Rush "would be an uphill thing," he says.
"It would take a lot of rehearsal, a lot of prep. '2112' would probably be too much of a bite of the apple for me," Ulrich freely admits. And for any drummer, that particular prog rock epic would be quite the challenge.
Going back to what he enjoys most, the Metallica skinsman reiterates, "But in terms of just feeling comfortable and kind of doing the thing that exists sort of where I am, that AC/DC stuff is right in my fucking pocket. And I love that so much."
Next year, not only will Metallica release a new album, but they'll hit the road for an extensive tour featuring two-night sets, each with different opening acts. See those dates and special guests here and head to this location for tickets.