The mixer on Metallica’s “… And Justice For All” album thought Lars Ulrich’s drums sounded like “A **”
In a new interview with Dean Cramer, Steve thompson, a prominent music producer who has worked with a wide range of rock icons, including GUNS N ‘ROSES (to “Appetite for destruction”), KORN (to “Follow the leader”) and SOUND GARDEN (to “Sides A”) talked about the mixing sessions for METALLICthe classic 1988 album, “… And justice for all”, and the reviews this record has received for the bass parts are almost inaudible.
While “… And justice for all” is considered one of the METALLICof the classics, he has been exhausted almost since the day of its release for lack of bass guitar on the record. Jason Newss playing is practically buried in the mix – and many fans believe the drummer Lars ulrich, who had very specific ideas about how he wanted his drums to sound, is to blame.
Thompson said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We did the project in Bearsville, New York – we worked on an SSL [console] until at Bearsville studios. And Lars originally came with a full equalizer setup chart of how he wanted his drums to sound. So Michel barbiero, my partner said to me: ‘Why don’t you work with Lars and take the drums [sounding the way he wants them to sound], and once you’ve done that, I’ll take care of the rest. ‘ So he does that. And I listened to the sounds, and I said, ‘Are you kidding me? I think it looks like ass. So anyway, I kind of re-equalized all the drums just to make them a little more palpable – it’s in the viewer’s ear. Then I turned up the bass, which I thought the bass was a big part of because… You know what was great about [Newsted‘s] low? It was a great marriage with [James] Hetfieldguitars from; it was like they needed to work together. It was perfectly played.
“So I put the whole rhythm section together, vocals and everything, and then I thought, ‘Okay, now is the time,'” he continued. “Hetfield was in there, [giving] thumbs up and everything like that. Then i brought Lars in. First of all, Lars hears it for about five to ten seconds, and he says, “Alright, stop there.” He said, “What happened to my drum sound? Basically, I probably said something like, “Were you serious? ” [Laughs] So I had to rearrange the sound of the drums to get it where he wanted it again. He said, ‘Okay, do you see the bass?’ I’m going, ‘Yeah.’ “Drop it into the mix. I said, ‘Why? It’s good.’ “Drop it into the mix. ” ‘Okay.’ So I did it as a joke. [I] dropped it all the way down. He said, “Drop another five or six dB” from there, who could barely hear it – you couldn’t hear it. I said, ‘Seriously?’ And I think I turned to Hetfield, and it just went like that [raises both hands]. And then I remember having a conversation with Burnstein Cliff and Peter Mensch who managed them. And basically I had a conversation, I said, ‘Look, I like these guys. I think this group is amazing. I don’t agree with what they want me to do with this. And I understand, this is their record. They should get what they want. We were hired to get them what they want. But I just can’t see it doing that. And we ended up giving them what they want. Again, this is not my file – it is their file – and you have to respect their opinion. I hated him personally, because I’m a bass player. I like the bass. When we record, we record the biggest bass in the world. “
Last year, Updated told Metal Hammer he was “fucking livid” when he heard “… And justice for all” for the first time. “I hope you are joking?” he said. “I was ready [to go] for the throats, man! No, I was crazy, because I really thought I did well. And I thought I was playing the way I was supposed to play. “
Updated went on to say that METALLICthe sound has always revolved around Ulrich and Hetfield. “Lars and James were the original duo of the garage band, as far as that goes, ”he explained. “They’ve always made records that way, [1982 demo cassette] ‘No Life’ Til Leather ‘, it was Lars and James, guitar and drums. On the original ‘No Life’ Til Leather ‘ cassette – if you happen to see an actual copy or a photo of an actual copy – in Larsthe writing of, in ink pen, on the label of the cassette, [it reads] “Turn down the bass in stereo. ” At ‘No Life’ Til Leather ‘! They mixed it like it was supposed to be mixed: there’s the bass and there’s the guitar from the start. Corn Lars would not [that] because it messed up his drums somehow so when he sends demo to fuck Combat records and everywhere, [his instruction is] “Turn the bass down before you even listen to that.” Before you even start, just turn the bass down. From the start. Before you even start. This is where he’s been his whole fucking life, so why would it be any different as far as [‘…And Justice For All’]? They did ‘Kill them all’ this way they did ‘Stroll [The Lightning]’ this way they did ‘Master [Of Puppets]’ this way, all. These two guys in a room [mimics drum beats and playing], that’s how it’s always been. [For] the most successful metal band of all time. So you arguing with this shit? I’m not really sure. Now it’s become the best garage band album of all time. [for artists such as] BLACK KEYS, WHITE STRIPES, DUO JETS, the different ‘power duos’ of garage stuff. “
Three years ago, Hetfield forbidden the sound of “… And justice for all”, saying that he and his bandmates “just wanted the best record” they could make. “It wasn’t just about ‘Damn [Jason]. Let’s refuse it. For sure, “he said.” We wanted the best album we could make. It was our goal. We were burnt. We were fried. Back-and-forth [between touring and mixing the album]. Play a concert. No earplugs, nothing. You go into the studio, your hearing is shot down. If your ears can’t hear the treble anymore, you will turn up the volume. So we’re increasing the high end more and more and all of a sudden the low end is gone. So I know it played a bigger role than any hazing or resentment Jason, for sure. We were fried. We were burnt. “
Hetfield also responded to some of the criticisms directed at METALLIC through Thompson. In a 2015 interview with Ultimate Guitar, Thompson suggested that Ulrich was the culprit for the lack of bass guitar on the record, claiming that Lars wanted his drums to sound a certain way – even if that meant cutting the bass.
“We wanted it to be tight”, James Explain. “We wanted it to be tight. That’s what we wanted. We wanted the snare, we wanted the guitar, we wanted everything up front and in your face and really tight. And we thought we had it. . And, you know, we kinda know what we want to look like. Can we sit behind a desk and make it happen? No. We ask people to do it, and they do. [Thompson] did its job. He has nothing to apologize or point the finger at. No one is to blame for “something”. It is a work of art. It happened and it ended up like this for a reason. And for the reasons we just spoke about. We were burnt. We travel, we play a concert, our ears were fried. We weren’t sleeping. He doesn’t need to defend himself. He was part of a great album in history, so I think maybe he should be a little easier on himself. “
James also once again rejected appeals to METALLIC remix “… And justice for all” so that Updatedthe contributions of are more audible.
“All that [bass discussion] it’s after the fact, and it’s, like, who cares, man, really? ” Hetfield noted. “And why would you change that? Why would you change the story? Why would you suddenly want to put bass on it? There’s bass on it, but why would you want to remix an album? You can remaster it, yeah, but why are you remixing something and making it different? That would be like… I dunno. Not that I’m comparing us to the Mona Lisa, but it’s like ‘Uh, can we make her smile a little better ?!’ You know?! Why?”
In a 2008 interview with Decibel magazine, METALLIC guitarist Kirk hammett tried to explain the lack of bass on “… And justice for all”, saying that “the reason you don’t hear bass so well is because the low frequencies in Jasonthe tone interfered a little with the tone which James was trying to aim with his rhythm guitar sound, and every time the two mingled it just didn’t happen. So all that remained was to lower the bass in the mix. It was unfortunate, but for some reason this album is known to be low end without the bass getting very high in the mix. It was also an experience – we wanted a totally dry and direct sound, and some people really like that sound. A lot of new generation bands, in particular, think this album sounds good. But in the end, it was an experience. I’m not really sure it’s a 100% success, but it’s a unique sound that this album has. “
In the Ultimate Guitar interview, Thompson said he spoke because he was tired of being blamed for the lack of bass. He remarked: “They took us out [to METALLICA‘s Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction in 2009] and i am sitting with Lars. He said ‘Hey, what happened to the bass in ‘Justice’? ‘ He actually asked me. I wanted to give her a cold cock right there. It was a shame because I’m the one pissing me off for the lack of bass. “
Ulrich Recount The pulse of the radio Fans were extremely loud about the sound of the album for a while when it was released. “I mean, it was amazing, you know, ‘… and justice for all’“, he said.” People were like, ‘This is the worst album, where’s the bass, and it looks like it was recorded in a garage, and …’ But, you know, listen, you’re doing your best you can in the moment and then you move on. ”