Metallica’s legendary drummer, Lars Ulrich, recently gave an interview to Phoebe Bridgers for Rolling Stone and discussed the secret hero who supported the band through their difficult times when James Hetfield was in rehab and encouraged them to stay together.
As you probably know, the documentary ‘Metallica: Some Kind of Monster‘ which was released in 2004 accurately reflects the rocky road that Metallica walked through and managed to remain a band.
In the documentary, one of the people, who was talked about the most was the band’s therapist or ‘performance enhancement coach’ Phil Towle. In the film, he was criticized for his invasive attitude going as far as suggesting lyrics for the band’s new recordings.
The early 2000s were a difficult time for Metallica as a band, who had come to a point of not being able to be in the same room without arguing. The relationship between the two founding members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich was getting worse day by day.
At this point, in 2001 they had a big fight after which James Hetfield went to rehab. After that, Phil Towle guided the members to resolve all their issues that had piled up. Soon they realized that they had been making music together but they had never shared anything personal.
Also, they had repressed their feelings so as not to argue which lead to numerous unresolved issues. This unhealthy relationship created tensions between the bandmates which, as Lars Ulrich says, would not have been resolved without Phil Towle.
He was the one who taught them to communicate and Ulrich claims that he is the reason why Metallica stayed together. Phil Towle remained by the side of the band during the recording process and helped them open up to each other instead of being at each other’s throats.
Thus, Lars Ulrich said that even though there are a thousand jokes that pop into his mind when talking about Phil, he always finds himself defending him and his methods because thanks to him, they found the courage to resolve their issues keep creating music together.
Here’s what the interviewer, Phoebe Bridgers, said:
“One of the craziest things I’ve ever seen is in the Metallica documentary [Some Kind of Monster] when your therapist [Phil Towle] slides over [and suggests] lyrics. I was like, ‘Oh, my God.'”
Here’s what Ulrich responded in support of Towle’s methods of helping them during a difficult time:
“It was a very transitional, experimental time. We’d been a band for 20 years, and we realized we never had a fucking conversation about how we’re feeling, what being in Metallica is doing to everybody. It was just this fucking machine.
And then [James] Hetfield had to go away and deal with some of his [substance abuse] issues, and then that opened up this whole thing.”
He continued by saying:
“It was a difficult time with Phil. And as easy as a target as he is to make fun of, whenever I get asked about it now, I find myself defending him. He did save the fucking band. I think you and I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to each other if it wasn’t for him.”
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