Lars Ulrich's fantasy festival: AC/DC and Bob Marley on Easter Island

As well as brushing up on Polynesian migration paths with a falafel in hand, the Metallica drummer imagines ancient rock giants next to giant ancient rocks


To me the idea of going to a festival starts with the journey, so I like the idea of a special destination. In 2013 we played in Antarctica – the band, crew and audience all stayed on a Russian icebreaker and shared the same bar, so there was a real communal spirit. With that in mind, my fantasy festival would take place on Easter Island. You could either go by boat, plane or relocation pod, like in Star Trek. I’ve never been but I love the ancient head statues and to journey there with a bunch of like-minded people would be incredible.

The headline act

I saw AC/DC with [deceased singer] Bon Scott four times, opening for Black Sabbath and Rainbow and then playing their own shows in Copenhagen in 1977 and San Francisco in 1979, in my early teens. The energy was insane: Angus strutting across the stage, all guitar solos, sweat, hair, no shirt on and Bon Scott, also shirtless, tight jeans, the coolest frontman ever. To me the definition of rock’n’roll attitude is AC/DC in those formative years.

Five more acts

I would take Deep Purple in their Gillan, Glover, Blackmore line-up from 1971 to 1973. Deep Purple in 1973 was the first concert I ever went to. I remember being taken aback by the spectacle of it all, Ritchie Blackmore twirling his guitar and playing it with his foot or his bum. They’d change the setlist and improvise and when they were on fire, they were otherworldly.

I’m drawn to bands that are impulsive and about the moment, with an element of danger or unpredictability. Rage Against the Machine have that and when they get 50-70,000 people yelling “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” it feels pretty real. While it usually lands in a safe spot, it always feels like it could completely go off in that moment.

I’d also have Oasis in their heyday because you never knew what the mood would be like, what the temperature was going to be like between the brothers or who was going to walk off.

Guns N’ Roses at their most dangerous were unstoppable in a live situation. We toured with them in 1992 and I got the chance to watch them every night. A great, great band – it was one of the best summers I’ve ever had.

I’ll throw some variance in now and have Bob Marley and the Wailers in the late 70s era of Babylon by Bus, for me one of the greatest live albums ever. The music seems to bring band and audience together. You can close your eyes and hear the unity. Bob Marley has become this iconic figure but at their best they really were a band, with a whole new groove and world of sound. By now, I’m not sure those statues would still be standing!

The non-musical activity

It’s pretty crazy to think that somewhere as isolated as Easter Island could host a whole civilisation. So the festival would include lessons in history and culture, to spread the understanding of the migration path of people from Polynesia and how the historical pieces fit together to create this incredible destination.

The food

Is there any better festival food than Mediterranean/Middle Eastern? My wife is vegan and I’m vegetarian and we had it at our wedding – it’s absolutely our favourite food. The great thing about kebabs, falafels and hummus is that you can stuff your face and walk with it without it falling apart or dripping all over your shoes. You’ve got to remember these things.

• S&M2, a live album by Metallica & San Francisco Symphony, is released 28 August. A new Metallica performance is streamed live to drive-in venues across the US on 29 August as part of the Encore Drive-In Nights series.


Interview by Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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