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Layne Ulrich: More than Music

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Most people would expect Layne Ulrich, son of renowned Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, to steal the spotlight of any high school music jam session with outrageous outbursts of melodic expertise and musical drumming genius. However, he can actually be found standing beside the drum set, eyes locked in on his classy white and gold bass, steadily bobbing his head to the rhythm of the music — his presence demanding attention. A silent leader, he sits within the inner circle of musicians, seamlessly blending into the flow of the group, surrounded by an aura of musical knowledge which elevates his stage presence.  

While Ulrich is a serious and composed performer on stage, he takes on a more humorous, and assertive off stage persona. With family and friends, Ulrich’s “talkative… loud, and sort of sarcastic” character comes to life, inheriting his “dry sense of humor” from his dad.  Perfectly balancing confidence and modesty, one is quickly drawn to the easy-going and joyful personality of Layne Ulrich.

Along with his comedic sense, Ulrich has also inherited an innate ear for music from his father. Early exposure to his dad’s heavy metal life of rock and roll has undoubtedly influenced his career as a musician and perception of music as a whole. Yet, when asked about his dad, he continually circles the conversation back to his brother Myles, who is currently a high-level drummer attending the Berklee College of Music.

“I definitely have a more similar music taste with Myles… If you ask me, my dad and Myles to pick any song on an iPod to play, I think Myles and I’s options would be more similar than [mine] with my dad.”

Myles’s influence on Ulrich’s musical taste has shaped his outlook on being a musician. Surprisingly, Ulrich mentions his brother’s musical success as a source of more pressure and ‘temptation’ to follow a music career rather than his dad’s: “For my brother it isn’t like he’s pressuring me saying, ‘Come to Berklee and be a musician with me’, but I went and visited him out there and it made it very, ya know, tempting…” The possibility of recreating Marin Academy’s talented and unique Ulrich brother duo at the Berklee College of Music is an enticing notion which Ulrich keeps in mind.  

Meanwhile, his dad just “wants me [him] to be happy”, allowing him the freedom to follow the career path of his choice. The lack of pressure he feels from his father could be because he is a bit distanced from his dad’s surreal music profession, seeing him more as ‘dad’ rather than ‘Lars Ulrich’: ‘I understand that when he goes up there [on stage], it’s about, sort of, putting on a show… He does this thing where he spits on the crowd… which is just so not who is he when he’s at home… drinking his tea or whatever (laughs).” As he has grown older, Ulrich has begun to better appreciate his dad’s music and has embraced it as a part of his life but does not let his dad’s career become a defining feature for him.

Nevertheless, Ulrich’s future remains quite undecided. While acknowledging the fact that, “being a touring musician would be pretty cool,” Ulrich isn’t near ready to set his goals on such an endeavor. Due to his background and a natural passion for music, a future in the music industry does compel him (producer, music teacher, etc…) but he has hesitation to follow this “risky but rewarding” lifestyle.  

Further, Ulrich is not opposed to completely venturing astray from the seemingly set musical career that is often expected from ‘the son of Lars Ulrich’.

“My mom’s a doctor and that sort of stuff fascinates me too, so I could see myself maybe pursuing that path as well”.

The fulfilling work of helping others seems to intrigue Ulrich but, that is not to say that he is torn between the career path of a doctor and rockstar. Frankly, when asked where he sees himself in five years, Ulrich answered as almost any sixteen-year-old boy should and would: “I honestly have no idea.”

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Layne Ulrich: More than Music