There are plenty of examples where metal bands take elements of classical music and work them into their own songs, the operatic influences in the singing styles of Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and Nightwish or aspects of the arrangements of Dream Theater and Opeth. Then taking it a stage further is Apocalyptica, a Metallica covers band where all songs are performed by a string quartet.

It's harder to find examples where classical artists have performed metal tracks but in a classical style, and it's fair to say that when they do crop up, they're not always taken very seriously. So imagine our excitement when we discovered Harptallica on Myspace, and more importantly, realized they were good.

Harptallica are Ashley Lancz Toman (Louisiana) and Patricia Kline (Massachusetts). Sadly our budget didn't stretch to a return flight to meet them in person so thanks to the wonders of the interweb, a few questions were emailed off and here's what Ashley had to say for herself.

R13: So how did you come to be recording an album of Metallica songs on the harp?
A: Upon hearing the album 'Master of Puppets' which my husband played for me one day, I fell in love with Metallica, and right then wanted to play their songs on the harp. I actually started out arranging a couple of Metallica tunes for harp. I wanted my harp buddy Patricia, to just read through them with me. We were going to do this in our teacher's harp studio, since she had plenty of room to rehearse. I remember when we asked her permission to use her studio for the afternoon to run through the arrangements she asked what they were, and I hung my head as Patricia told her all about my Metallica harp arranging. She immediately asked us if there was an album coming for us in the near future, and that was really the first thought that I had of recording the arrangements.

R13: Is there anything about Metallica's music which makes it particularly well suited to a classical style?
A: So much of it is very melodic, and translates very well to harp. I play a solo version of 'Nothing Else Matters' and if they don't listen to Metallica, they think its Renaissance music. The two harps works out really well because you can have one person playing the rhythmic lines, while the other does lead lines or soloing.

R13: How did you go about picking the tracks which are featured on the Harptallica CD?
A: I picked out songs that were my favorites such as 'Orion', 'Fade to Black', 'Master of Puppets', 'One' and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'. Then I also picked songs I thought would sound good on harp such as 'The Unforgiven', the intro of 'Battery', and 'Sanitarium'.

R13: Have the guys from Metallica heard what you're doing?
A: I'm not sure.

R13: Have you had much response from die-hard Metallica fans and has this been positive or negative?
A: We have a lot of people writing to us, it's been amazing, I still can't believe it, because I thought people wouldn't listen to the harp, or it would be too different a sound. They seem to enjoy it or be amused by it.

R13: How does your music go down with people who don't know it's Metallica songs, does the classical music world appreciate your work?
A: Most people don't even realize it's Metallica. I would be practicing my part to 'The Unforgiven' and my Mom would say "That's a nice little Celtic sounding song." I would play 'Nothing Else Matters' and parts to 'To Live is to Die' at Afternoon Tea, and most people who aren't familiar with Metallica think it's therapeutic harp music. After hearing part of 'Orion', one old lady even asked if she could buy a recording of me playing that song, and I was like "Actually, yes."

R13: How often have you played Metallica songs live and what sort of audience does it get?
A: We are working on a U.S. University tour for this coming fall. We have had many requests for live performances all over, which was another big surprise for me.

R13: Do you hope to bring your music to countries like the UK?
A: We would absolutely love to, because we have had a tremendous response from the UK. Actually, the first person to pre-order our CD was someone from the United Kingdom, and he will always be special. We would love to perform over there, but we would need a little help, hint hint. We don't know anywhere, or anybody over there, but if we had some help, we would really love to play.

R13: What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
A: I grew up a country girl. I started to appreciate classical music more once I began to play and study it in music school. Also while in college, I had a summer job playing at a hotel but the rest of the musicians were jazz musicians, so I started to listen to jazz standards, another genre that I really love to play on harp. I didn't get into heavy metal until my second year of graduate school. My husband is a metal head and would play me Metallica, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, and Opeth.

R13: On your Myspace site it lists a number of other metal bands as influences, do you plan to branch out into other back catalogues?
A: I have started to work on an arrangement of 'Tout le Monde' by Megadeth. I would absolutely love to do some Opeth, but I would need at least some sort of guitar music reference to get me started on it, since their songs are lengthy, and have complex forms, but they are so beautiful. I would also love to arrange some Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I have also just finished an arrangement of 'The Call of Ktulu'.

R13: What is the long-term aim of Harptallica?
A: To take it as far as we can, keep it fun. We're just too buddies trying to have a good time and rock out!

To find out more check them out on Myspace at

Also to get hold of their CD visit