Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich described why some ‘pretty effeminate’ bands had trouble finding commercial success in the United States in a new Apple Music ‘It’s Electric’ interview with Joan Jett.
Lars Ulrich: I think there may be an element-
Joan Jett: American society-
Lars Ulrich: There may be an element of that-
Joan Jett: -the same thing that said “No, girls can’t play rock and roll.” Girls can master the guitar. They can play rock and roll. What you’re saying is society doesn’t allow women to access their sexuality in relation to music. They have to be a certain stayed thing. And that’s it. Once they do that, they’re hoars, they’re sluts, they’re dykes. You know? And that’s what I think.
Lars Ulrich: But I think … A couple … I mean you’re talking about maybe a five year span here, ’72 to ’76, ’77. If you take a band like The Sweet, they were at their most glam around “Wig Wam Bam,” “The Six Teens,” “Teenage Rampage,” “Blockbuster.” Right in that area, ’73, ’74. And then later when they were less glam, that’s when they had their big hits in America, “Fox On The Run.”
Joan Jett: That’s what I … See what I’m saying?
Lars Ulrich: And “Love Is Like Oxygen.”
Kenny: And Suzi too, “Stumblin’ In” I think was her only hit in America.
Lars Ulrich: And they were … I mean, when you go back and look at some of this stuff now. And all this stuff’s available on YouTube, which is great. And I’ve encouraged listeners of my show for the last couple years to go check this stuff out.
Joan Jett: Yeah.
Lars Ulrich: I mean, if you see like Mud doing Tire Feet. If you see some of these Sweet things. I mean, it’s pretty effeminate.
Joan Jett: That’s what I’m saying.
Lars Ulrich: I say that, of course, without judgment.
Joan Jett: Absolutely.
Lars Ulrich: But I think it’s easy to see how middle America would not be able to embrace that.
Joan Jett: Absolutely.
Lars Ulrich: In the way that the western European culture was maybe much more open to that at the time.
Joan Jett: And some of the coasts. I mean, look, two small clubs, one in New York and one in L.A. that catered to this kind of music and that couldn’t stay afloat. They both closed in the id ’70s. Yeah, I believe for sure that’s got a lot to do with it, is the societal aspect of what people look like and how much we judge on looks.