Speaking in an interview by Rolling Stone Australia, James Hetfield talked about his relationship with drummer Lars Ulrich. Stating that they both loved and hated each other, James said:
“Lars is, ‘I have to do everything, or else it’s wrong.’ He’s got the weight of so much on him. And ‘Atlas, Rise!’ started out as a, ‘Here, let me help you with that. You don’t need to carry all that, brother.’ And then it morphed into more — and this is not specifically him, but I’m plugging him into this — I think he likes that.
There’s a drama that makes him work, and we all have a bit of that. He wants the control but he doesn’t really have control. The illusion of control, and then the ability to complain about how you have to do everything yourself, and then you still do it.
There’s some ‘Psych 101’. But relationships, my God, every day I learn something, and relationships are teaching me about what’s important. I went through a lot of stuff in 2001 [as captured in the ‘Some Kind Of Monster’ documentary], that was kind of my freak-out period, realizing my life is not working how it is now. And it took a huge bottom to realize that.
And I think everyone in the band has hit their bottom in a certain way, a different way, over the past 10 years. There’s been some realizations. It’s just the age — between 45 and 55. Fifties. That’s a number where you think, what the fuck am I doing? [Life’s] more than half over! But the relationship with Lars, we’ve been friends for a long time, it’s lasted longer than all the marriages in the band.
God, we hate each other, and we love each other, and it morphs, it changes, but at the end of the day we realize, this works. And we’re a good team, man. Trusting him: ‘Yeah, I’ve got 800 riffs, and here they are. You edit them, you pick out the good stuff.'”