During a conversation with singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers for Rolling Stone, Lars Ulrich has credited the therapist Phil Towle who memorably mediated between METALLICA members in the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster.
“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'”, says Bridgers.
“It was a very transitional, experimental time,” Ulrich responded. “We’d been a band for 20 years, and we realised we never had a f*cking conversation about how we’re feeling, what being in METALLICA is doing to everybody. It was just this f*cking 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.
“It was a difficult time with Phil,” Lars added. “And as easy [of] 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.”
In a recent interview with NME, Ulrich was asked if he has found this lockdown period creatively productive.
“I’m not sure — it’s not easy, but we’ve been doing what we can. We’ve been exchanging ideas back and forth,” he responded. “The hardest thing about being in four different spaces is that there’s no software that can have us all play in real time to reach other. So I can play something and send it to the next guy and then he can play on it and he can send it to the next guy, or vice versa, but we can’t play at the same time so it takes the impulsivity and the momentary energy out of the occasion.
He continued: “I’ve talked to some people in technology about how close we are to being able to all play in real time with each other, but that hasn’t been cracked yet.
“If it is, we’ll maximize it, but for now, we’re in this bubble for a couple of weeks, and we’re looking forward to seeing if at some point this fall, we can get back into another bubble where we write and play and maybe even record — so we’re looking forward to the possibilities on that one.”
When asked when fans can expect new music from METALLICA, Lars said: “Not soon enough! Right now, I’d say the hardest thing about all this is trying to plan, because five minutes later, those plans change — that’s just the nature of the state of the world at the moment and we’re going to have to accept and surrender to it.
“I think it’s a good reminder of the fragility of the world and how maybe we should occasionally pause and be a little bit more respectful and appreciative of what we have and understand how quickly it can derail in terms of how we arrogantly expect everything to be way we wanted as a human race.”