Rumors that Metallica once considered firing Lars Ulrich have been just that – until now. Guitarist Kirk Hammett, in a new interview with PYX 106, confirms that the group actually talked about letting its co-founding drummer go – though Hammett is quick to caution against making too much about it.

"You know, that was just an old thing," Hammett said (via Blabbermouth). "I think at one point or another, we were pissed off at Lars, around maybe 1985 or something. We were unhappy, and we might have grumbled something to someone. And then that person might have picked up on it and made it something a lot bigger than it actually was."

Hammett is perhaps referring to Anthrax's Scott Ian, who has talked extensively about Metallica's plans to split with Ulrich after their shared 1986 concert dates. Hammett and late bassist Cliff Burton reportedly told Ian that "they couldn’t take being in the band with [Ulrich]  anymore and were done putting up with him," Ian wrote in his autobiography, I'm the Man. "I didn’t ask why they were gonna kick Lars out. I figured it was because they wanted a better drummer, but apparently there was also a lot of business-related stuff going on behind the scenes they weren’t thrilled with."

But Burton died in a tour bus accident in Sweden that year, and a reeling Metallica were forced to rebuild their lineup around a new bassist, Jason Newsted, who played with Hammett, Ulrich and James Hetfield from 1986–2001, an often-difficult period for Metallica that began with ... And Justice for All, the 1988 album perhaps best known for its controversial approach to recording the rhythm section. Current bassist Robert Trujillo joined in 2003.

Over time, Metallica apparently worked out whatever issue there had been with Ulrich 30 years ago. "To be completely honest, [Lars] has a lot of drive, and that's a part of the reason why I love the man," Hammett told PYX 106. "His drive and his motivation is just so intense, you know."

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