The PV Q&A: Metallica's Lars Ulrich on 'Through the Never,' Parenthood, and So, What's in the Bag?

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Metallica is bigger than ever—literally—in Through the Never. The 3D IMAX concert film puts the members of the multi-platinum-selling rock band on 100-foot screens across the world, as they blast through 30-plus-years of high-definition heavy metal classics.

Of course, since this is Metallica, nothing is straight-forward. Along with the live footage, the band teamed up with the director Nimrod Antal (Vacancy, Predators) to create a gory, apocalyptic plot to weave in and out of full-tilt performances of songs like “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman.”

Starring Dane DeHaan, who plays a roadie called Trip that is sent out to run an astonishingly grim errand while the band tears it up onstage, the fictional segment of the film has the critics divided. But when we met up with Metallica’s drummer and mouthpiece Lars Ulrich at the band’s Northern California studio shortly before the release of the film, he wasn’t terribly concerned about its reception.

Mostly, we got the impression that the band was happy to put 2004’s warts-and-all therapy documentary, Some Kind of Monster, behind as its primary contribution to celluloid history.

PureVolume: The band’s chemistry in this film is quite different than it was 10 years ago when you made “Some Kind of Monster.” What changed?
Lars Ulrich: The greatest thing that happened to this band is, more or less, all four of us became parents around the same time. So, what is it that happens when you become parents? You stop prioritizing yourself and you start prioritizing other people. As you become parents and you stop taking it all so seriously, you start becoming more comfortable with the human side of all this. Twenty years ago, we would come off stage and argue and finger wag each other, "You fucked up on song three! And that song was too fast! And you did this wrong!" All this type of stuff. Now we don't take it so seriously. Every day you go out and play your best, and do what you can. But we're humans and we're proud of that.

What inspired the idea to shoot this movie in IMAX 3D?
Well, 3D, nowadays, as you know, can be pretty cheesy—like, here I am sticking my yogurt spoon in your face. That kind of nonsense. The 3D element is really about immersion and being onstage and being a part of the concert rather than watching. When it was time to do this movie we thought that if we could add that element to it then it would make it more interesting. You know us—we always try to see what we can do to reinvent the wheel.
Did the director Nimrod Antal come up with the idea to mash up what are basically two different movies?
He’s the one who dreamt up the story of Trip. We knew we had a partner with him right away because he just had that mad Hungarian look in his eyes and it was just kind of cool. The rest of it we just sort of made up as we went along with all the people around us pulling out what hair they had left out. This was a very, very impulsive undertaking. Making movies is a very different beast than making a record. You have to do a lot of planning. There was nothing that was fucking planned around here. We were making this shit up as we were going along more than ever.
It seems a lot of people like the concert footage but aren’t so sure about the narrative you weave through it.
I think ultimately what happened was the reason Some Kind of Monster  resonated with so many people was because there was this dramatic arc to it that nobody could have ever predicted. It wasn't really about a rock and roll band. It's a movie about relationships. It feels like with the crop of new movies coming out—I don't want to be disrespectful to anyone—but the Justin Bieber and Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus and all those movies were like, here we are onstage and here's some backstage footage and us getting out of a limo or out a plane or prayer circles or whatever it is. We just felt there's got to be something else you can do. With Some Kind of Monster it felt like there was a story there. So there's a story that's kind of interweaved in here.

The film ends with a bit of a cliffhanger. What can you tell us about it without spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it?
My favorite thing is at least every other interviewer asks, "So what's in the bag?" I have no fucking idea. The only person who knows what's in the bag is Dane DeHaan. I've got a feeling he may not tell. He may take that to his grave.

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