Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has credited the band’s one-time therapist with saving them.
Ulrich said that Phil Towle, who is seen in the band’s 2004 documentary Some Kind Of Monster, was instrumental in keeping the band together during troubled times more than 15 years ago.
The documentary detailed the period for the band during which bassist Jason Newsted quit, frontman James Hetfield entered rehab, and the band started to question the “machine” of churning out music. Towle was enlisted to help the band communicate better with each other and how to manage the pressures of being a successful group.
Ulrich defended Towle – who was often poked fun at by the band for his odd sweater choices – in a new Musicians On Musicians interview with Phoebe Bridgers for Rolling Stone. “It was a difficult time with Phil. And as easy 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.”
He continued: “It was a very transitional, experimental time. We’d been a band for 20 years, and we realised 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 Hetfield had to go away and deal with some of his issues, and then that opened up this whole thing.”
Elsewhere in the interview Ulrich revealed that the band is about a month into “some pretty serious writing”.
“All the shit – pandemics, fires, politics, race problems, and just fucking looking at the state of the world – it’s so easy just to so fall into a depressive state. But writing always makes me feel enthusiastic about what’s next,” he said.
“It’s like, ‘Fuck, there’s an opportunity here to still make the best record, to still make a difference. To still do something that not even turns other people on, but turns me on.’”