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Lars Ulrich Explains Metallica’s Haircuts During ‘Load’ Era

Metallica Lars Ulrich
YouTube: From Metallica’s ‘Until It Sleeps’ Video

Metallica certainly don’t look the way they did when they started. One of the most lambasted changes in the group’s appearance came when they began to do press for their 1996 record Load.

When they returned with the new studio album, they also came back with short hair, a vast change from the long locks that fans had come to know. It’s been a fusing point of contention for fans, some of whom accused the band of selling out. James Hetfield has even referred to that time as the “U2 version of Metallica.” After all these years, Lars Ulrich has finally shed light on how the haircuts came to be.

In a recent interview with WJRR, drummer Lars Ulrich was asked about the band’s decision to change their hairstyle. Ulrich found it a funny question, but gave a pretty straight up answer (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):

“[Laughs] Let’s see now how I’m doing on my math – that was 21 years ago? 22 years ago? Close enough.

It’s funny how these things end up being perceived – there was this perception that the 4 members of Metallica went to a barber shop together and ordered like a 4-for-1 discount, or some crazy thing like that. That wasn’t the case at all. [Jason] Newsted actually – he shaved his head on the ‘Black Album’ tour. That was the end of ’93, and ‘Load’ came out in ’96. So there was like an almost three-year span where – shock, horror – all four members of Metallica got haircuts at various times between ’93 and ’96. It was kind of a downtime.

This was back in the day when there was no social media and when you’re off the radar, you’re off the radar. And then ‘Load’ came out, and all of the sudden there was like, ‘Woah! They all got haircuts!’ Obviously, we didn’t get haircuts at the same time, we just all decided individually at different times to somewhat trim our hair. And then people came to the conclusion that that was some sort of contrived purposeful undertaking, which of course it wasn’t. People always find an angle to hit you in the places where you least expect it, and you have to accept that. And we accept that – some of it is kinda funny, actually.

So occasionally we sit and chuckle when people throw some of the stuff at us. Which is fine. Ultimately, I guess it means that people care, that people are passionate, and sort of still caught up in what Metallica does. That’s a good problem to have. But I wish my hair was in that good of shape today. [Laughs] I wish for the glory days of 1996, but that’s a different conversation for another day.”

Ulrich gives a pretty funny anecdote that shows off what media was like pre-Internet. Having one image of your favorite band, and seemingly out of nowhere (which Ulrich notes actually happened over a long course of time) they can look totally different, fueling speculation in a huge way.

Metallica’s most recent album, Hardwired… To Self Destruct, topped 1 million in pure album sales earlier this month. Elsewhere, other members of the band have been speaking about many aspects of the group, including James Hetfield talking about what goes into picking a supporting act for their live shows. He also speculated about Kirk Hammett’s lost phone, and why none of the music Hammett recorded for Hardwired was backed up.

You can catch Metallica on tour this summer. Click here for the rest of their tour dates.

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