Lars Ulrich Talks New Metallica Album: ‘It’s More Like Some Of Our Earlier Records’

Band is co-headlining Bonnaroo festival next month.

For well over a year, Metallica have been working on material for their yet-untitled ninth studio offering. And in all that time, the boys have managed to keep a lid on any information regarding the effort, which they’ve decided to work on with producer Rick Rubin (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Slayer), severing their ties to longtime producer Bob Rock.

On Thursday, Metallica’s outspoken drummer Lars Ulrich spoke about the record, which the band expects to finish recording next week.

He said there will be “a couple of nips and tucks next week, and then we should be done with it — hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday.” The album will be in stores “in mid-September, and literally, just yesterday, our graphic designer came down from San Francisco and showed us a few things. We should have an album title very, very soon, and all our songs — which are [currently] entitled ‘German Soup,’ ’19,’ ’10′ and ‘Casper, Wyoming,’ and whatever else they’ve been called over the last year — are going to get some real song titles attached to them.”

However, Ulrich said the band probably won’t be previewing the new material during its set next month at the 2008 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The group also recently signed on for the one-day Ozzfest this summer.

After spending the past year in the studio honing the material, Metallica are about to enter album-promotion mode. “It’s all just starting right now,” he said. “We sort of promised ourselves that, unlike all the records we made in the ’90s that were just completely f—ing stressed out and nutty, that we were going to try and have a little bit of a more sane environment. And surprisingly, mostly for ourselves, we’ve been able to keep that.”

Ulrich said the band entered the studio with 26 songs written, and had to whittle that down to 14. In all likelihood, the record will feature 10 cuts, because “they haven’t made a CD yet that can contain more than 80 minutes of music.” He said most of the songs are epic in length — “they’re long songs, maybe seven-, eight-, nine-minute, nutty-ass songs” — and are as diverse as the band’s albums.

“It’s definitely pretty all over the place: a lot of variation, a lot of fast, slow, melodic, hardcore, nutty, super-fast speed stuff,” he said. “It’s more like some of the earlier records, which were a little more dynamic within the songs. And on those records, there were a lot of long songs that were — without sounding too corny — journeys. You’d go here and then you’d go over here and then this, and then that would happen. It feels like kind of a lot of that stuff. It’s difficult for me to sit down and brand it yet, because I’m still so close to it.”

Ulrich said that the release of their next one would be followed in October with a full U.S. tour, but had no additional information about the run.