Screen Scream 2: Lars reveals much of Metallica-Megadeth rivalry was just press – but it became real after movie scene
Lars Ulrich says a great deal of the rivalry between Metallica and Megadeth in the 1990s was generated by the press – but it became real after he and Dave Mustaine appeared together in Some Kind of Monster.
The infamous movie details Metallica’s descent into near-collapse during the recording of what would become their 2003 album St Anger. In one of the most remembered moments, “performance coach” Phil Towle has Ulrich and Mustaine discuss the emotional injury inflicted on the Megadeth man when he was thrown out of Metallica in 1983.
Now Ulrich says that was the darkest moment in the thrash musicians’ relationship. He tells Revolver: “In 1984 and 85 Dave would come up to play San Francisco a lot and I’d always go find him. We’d drink and do drugs and sit around. We got over our issues really quickly. We had a cool thing going through most of the 80s.
“It wasn’t until both bands started getting bigger that something started happening in the press. It was different from what we had going between us – there was almost two different relationships there. The press loved it and it got a life of its own. So over the 90s it got a little frosty at times – but right up until 99 we would always hang out when we were in the same city.
“The time when it got chilliest, where there was an obvious stop in communication, was after Some Kind of Monster, and that thing with the scene in there, which we don’t have to go into. We stopped for about five years or whatever.
“But other than that it was all good, just two parallel trajectories. There was the Metallica-Megadeth thing in the press, then there was Lars and Dave hanging out. It was a little odd at times – you’d go, ‘Wait a minute, I’m not supposed to like this guy because that’s what it says in this week’s Kerrang.’”
Ulrich says that, no matter what, he retains a great deal of respect for Mustaine. “I’ve always admired him,” says the drummer. “He’s an incredibly talented musician. Playing with him is not awkward.”
Reflecting on the Big 4 shows where Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax play together, he says: “There was a time when there was a competitive edge to all of us, but I really don’t feel that any more.
“No matter how much anybody pushes it in the press, It’s not like, ‘Who’s better at this?’ When it comes to drums, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo would win – he could kick the rest of our asses with just a whip of his little finger. So I can say there’s no competitive edge.
“Maybe it just took everybody going through what we’ve all been through to get to this place.”