Metallica Reveal Why They Got In ‘Street Fight’ Over Napster: ‘It Was A Brawl’

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Lars Ulrich discussed Metallica’s battle with Napster in a new OMR interview (transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar):

“The big misconception about the Napster argument was – it had nothing to do with digital, it had nothing to do with technology. It was really about asking. It was about ownership.

“If we want to give our music away for free – will give our music away for free! That’s not a problem! But that choice was taken away from Metallica by another company. So we’re like, ‘Wait a minute, why should you be able to facilitate giving away of our music for free? That should be something that we decide.’

“At that time we had encouraged people to bootleg our shows, we had sold tickets to the taper section in the back. ‘Come bring your recording equipment, take the show home with you.’ So we were very pro this type of thinking. But then Napster took the choice away from us.

“To me, Napster was like a street fight. It was a back-alley brawl. It was like, ‘Let’s roll up our sleeves and go have a good old-fashioned punch-up in the back alley. And then all of a sudden we were caught on the world’s stage and it was like, ‘Holy fuck! How did we end up being the bad guys?’ Because we were always the good guys.

“Generally, I can look at you and go, ‘We’re pretty decent people, we’re not the bad guys.’ That was one time when we sort of misjudged a little bit what the temperature was in the rest of the world about this Napster thing because we were standing out there going, ‘Whoah, what did we get ourselves into here?’ So that was a little bit of a clusterfuck. That was a strange summer.”

Lars also discussed Metallica’s future.

“When I think of The Rolling Stones, the first two words that come to mind is not ‘old men.’ It’s more ‘holy fuck.’ They’re still doing it out there in their 70s – Mick Jagger is running a marathon on stage. When I look at Mick Jagger I go, ‘That’s what I wanna do when I’m 72 years old.’ And I am gonna be fucking doing it too.

“To me it’s very inspiring to see bands like The Rolling Stones, to see artists like Neil Young, see Paul McCartney out there playing two, two-and-a-half-hour sets. So as far as Metallica is concerned – if our shoulders and our necks and our knees hold up we’ll be fine! We’re just getting started!

“There’s certainly no shortage of creative energy, there’s no shortage of desire, and there’s no shortage of feeling alive and wanting to connect with people. It’s only the physical part. So if the bodies can last her 20 or 30 years – no problem!”