Lars’ father speaking to Harvester of Sofia: Even I couldn’t tell that Metallica would become one of the greatest bands in history

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My first show of the band was in my meditation room, recalls Torben Ulrich

After talking to Roberto Trujillo’s wife Chloe, now Harvester of Sofia is proud to present you the interview we made with Lars’ father – Torben Ulrich. He is 84 years old, but still he is very active, working on several projects. He is married to Molly Martin. Lars’ mother – Lone Ulrich, passed away in 1998.
Hello Mr. Ulrich, I hope we find you in a good mood. We are the Bulgarian local chapter Harvester of Sofia and we will ask you some questions.
Yes, it’s a great day in Northern California, very warm, in spite of November. Molly and I are planning to take a walk and later on have dinner with Lars and friends.

We  all  know about your son Lars, could you tell us more about you and your family – what do you do now, do you have other children, what is the name of your wife, what do you do in your spare time (besides pulling Lars’s ears)?
“What do you do now?” Working on a book, working on a film that’s close to being finished, working on a prose poem for a Danish literary magazine, working on a dance project that is a continuation of something we did this summer, working on a music project with a Danish pianist friend, a third CD in that line. Molly says you can see more about some of those on www.torbenulrich.com.
“Do you have other children?” Not that I know of.
“What is the name of your wife?” Molly Martin.
“What do you do in your spare time?” Have no spare time, sorry.

METALLICA!!! What did you think when you first heard that name? And how did it fell when you said It out loud for the first time?
When I first saw it on the list of quite a few, I thought it was quite useful. When I said it out loud, I thought it sounded quite useful.
I guess the first Metallica song you have heard was Hit the Lights, what did you think about it, was It just a noise for you compared to the modern rock bands of that time?
Hit the Lights was not the first song that I heard, but I thought it was very catchy. No, it was not just a noise; I thought it was right in there, continuing the history of things happening in that field. Although, of course, I was more directly involved in the jazz field, in any case I was trying to be open to whatever was going on in the various fields around that particular music, not only in terms of traditional classical music in a Western sense, but also Indian music, Slavic music, music of the Middle East, etc., so that I was trying to listen to the metal field and the rock things in that context, but also obviously being Lars’ father I was trying to be particularly aware of the music taking place around him.

Do you remember the first Metallica show you attended?
Yes, that would have been in my meditation room, where the band was practicing several times a week. More officially, outside of that, I remember it quite clearly, although I do not at the moment recall the name of the place. But it was at the time we were living in Newport Beach, and this was somewhere in the greater Los Angeles area, I think, probably their first.

Are you happy that your son chose the drum sticks to the tennis racket?
Yes.

Several people who know the band from their first years already said that they never believed that Metallica would become so big. However, you were pretty close to them, so when did you start to think that they will become one of the greatest bands in history not only of rock but music in general?
No, I couldn’t tell. Also, my experience has been that you cannot translate qualitative terms into quantitatives, meaning record sales, spread of fame, etc., particularly in shorter terms.

We all know that Metallica took many controversial decisions in terms of their fans. I personally think that a band should do what they want to do, not what the fans expect from them. However, is there anything you would like to change if you could.
No. That could never be my role, maybe, as a father, etc. Of course if Lars would ask, I would respond to the best of my ability. Sometimes we have this joke going where he asks if I thought Sad But True was slow enough for my taste. Most of the time, I say, not quite.

Besides Metallica, are there any other metal bands you listen to, and if so, which ones?
Trying to listen to as many as possible and, over time, you could say that there are probably too many to list here, sorry.

We know that you were in Fillmore because a friend from Bulgaria saw you on the balcony with Lars; you attend the most important Metallica events.
Yes, we were at the Fillmore every night and really enjoyed it. Molly and I try to be at as many as possible, particularly of course if Lars thinks that we should be there, which he sometimes does. For instance, we were in Atlantic City in the summer when the band had their first festival of their own, and Lars had his own tent where we were both showing a film that we had done together, and making a commentary on it. Later in the summer we were in Vancouver, since Lars had thought that we should see the technologies and the ways of putting together that this 3D film that’s coming out next year.

Were you in Sofia for the Big Four show?
No, unfortunately; we would have loved to go, to be there, and see the city and meet up with you. Hopefully next time, soon.

Are you close with the other guys from the band? Do you go for family vacations together?
I think so. Maybe they don’t. But we’ve always had a very nice relationship with all of them, way back to Cliff Burton, and even earlier, with Dave Mustaine, that time. Also saw recently a very early member of those early guys playing together, a wonderful guitar player that you may not have heard of, called Lloyd Grant.

Something that Torben Ulrich is known is his beard – tell us how long you let your beard grow?
Yeah, it’s been there since Lars was very, very young – nonstop.

The dream of everyone in the Harvester of Sofia is to do an interview with Lars? How do you think, is that even possible?
With a certain patience and persistence, it’s always possible. That at least has been my experience when in my young days I was chasing jazz musicians, trying to have a word or two.

What do you know about Bulgaria, are you familiar with Harvester of Sofia or you ignore the fans during concerts?
Fans are never to be ignored during concerts, and why should they? And even if you were trying, you couldn’t, because at all times when you’re a musician, to a lesser or larger degree, whatever happens around you will influence what comes out in the music.

Say something to the members of the Harvester of Sofia?
Wishing everyone and all, all the best, and if possible be open to all kinds of music. Thank you, I wish you all the best and we wish you that one of your grandchildren become even more famous and successful musician or artist than Lars!

Lars and Harvester of Sofia members

Interviewed by ASSYA MERSIMOVA

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