Hot Faux Metallica

ONE Rocks McGuffy’s Metallica Style

By Gary Spencer

There’s an old saying that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.  There is perhaps no other scenario where that saying holds true as much as it does when it comes to tribute bands.  Whereas some tribute acts are merely concerned with sounding like the real McCoy, Metallica tribute band ONE don’t just sound like Metallica, they are all about presenting themselves as the Metallica you would see on tour at your local arena.  ONE, named after one of the band’s hit singles, has all the signature moves and playing technique of the legendary metal ensemble, mimicking everything from Lars Ulrich’s drum stick pointing to the lead singer not just sounding but even looking like Metallica guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield to the point where one might confuse the two of them side by side.  ONE’s mission is to bring audiences a Metallica experience that is as close to the real thing as possible without spending hundreds of dollars on tickets and having to watch that band through a pair of binoculars way up in the nosebleed seats at whatever stadium Metallica would play.  I recently chatted with Shane “Lars Ulrich” Obershaw about all things ONE and Metallica and here’s what he had to say.

Where are you guys from?  How did you all meet and why did you decide to form a Metallica tribute band? (We’re from) Minneapolis.  I met Chris (James Hetfield) at his bachelor party and (I) said, “Has anyone ever told you look like James Hetfield?”  He said he gets that question all the time and he plays guitar. It was on from that moment.  I knew a bass player, he knew a guitarist and the rest is history.  The four of us have an obsession with Metallica and when you get four good musicians together with a vision of how to present this kind of project it makes it pretty special to envision. -SO

Why does ONE refer to itself as the “only” tribute to Metallica?  And what sets ONE apart from other Metallica tribute outfits? There are other tributes here in the states and in Europe.  I respect any musician that gets on stage with any kind of music they’re playing, and most of these other tributes get close, but ONE is the only band that duplicates an entire live show with the sound, expressions, voice, energy, attitude and signature instruments right down to the exact drum kit and guitar picks being used.  There are bigger-named tributes out there than ONE, but I know at the end of a show what we put out there is the best-sounding and most attention to detail oriented band to date. -SO

I read that members of ONE have either worked with or played with Metallica.  How did that happen and what was that like? Chris (James) worked for their lighting company in the early ‘90s.  He has many interesting stories, believe me.  I myself was pulled up onstage in August of 2004 in St. Paul to play “Seek and Destroy” by a chance that Lars saw me air drumming in the front row.  Still hard to believe the odds that he picked a drummer from a tribute band, and that it WAS NOT staged, ha ha.  That picture is available on Metallica’s website.  -SO

ONE’s website states that “ONE focuses on the audio and visual aspects of live Metallica, and strives for duplication in both areas.”  Please explain how those focuses manifest themselves in your live show.  The audio is obviously the most important.  Numerous fans have told me that there are parts of the show where we sound better than Metallica.  Chris’ voice, the onslaught of downpicking guitars, along with rumbling bass, and two bass drums clicking away brings you pretty close to the real thing.   Visually for the fans, it’s all about the signature equipment and attitude.  If you want to see the exact gear, outfits, amp covers, stage props, then it’s truly a show for the diehards to come critique.  Even the drummer might spit the infamous stream of Gatorade into the crowd just like Lars.  -SO

Has Metallica seen or heard ONE?  Has Lars Ulrich asked you guys for royalties?  They are fully aware of what we’re doing.  I’ve met Lars a few times and recently showed him material of what we’re doing.  He was blown away at the attention to detail and seemed pretty proud of who he’s inspired.  He has enough money and a private jet so I think he’ll leave ONE alone this year.  –SO

What do you think about Metallica’s legacy in metal and rock in general?  If you’re a statistics guru or full on legendary fan you can’t deny what they’ve done for hard rock, heavy metal, over-the-top productions shows, and playing places in the world no one else has touched.  It’s cool that they did it their way and said we don’t care what people think.  They did that early on and look where that got them today.  -SO

ONE: The Only Tribute to Metallica will perform at McGuffy’s House of Rock, 5418 Burkhardt Road in Dayton.  Doors open at 7pm, showtime 8pm.   Admission is $10 for patrons 18 and up.  For more information please call (937) 256-3005 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Gary Spencer at Gary

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at

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