METALLICA’s JAMES HETFIELD Reveals His Battle With Anxiety-Induced Nightmares Before 2024 Tour

James Hetfield

James Hetfield, leading METALLICA through their European tour since the end of May, shared his experiences on the latest episode of “The Metallica Report” podcast. He talked about the self-doubt he felt related to his age and the nightmares that troubled him prior to embarking on the tour.

“I start to doubt myself,” Hetfield reveals. “[thinking,] ‘We’re old, we can’t do this’ – all that bulls**t everyone tells themselves before they go into something they care about.”

He continued: “So, having the nightmares about how I’m the only one who cares about what we’re doing here. ‘Where is everybody?’ I show up at the gig, everyone’s goofing off, or there’s 200 people backstage and thinking, ‘Where’s my stuff? Where’s the setlist? What songs are we doing?’ And then, typical things like the guitar neck is made of rubber, and there are only two strings on it. And, ‘Where’s my roadie?’, and the guitar cord won’t let me get to the microphone. Silly stuff like that. That has to happen, and I don’t freak out over it. All you do is you practice, and then you build that comes back pretty quickly.”

“It’s part of the cycle; it just is,” James added. “You have anxiety build up, and don’t let it get the best of ya because you have that balance of anxiety and faith. And as soon as you get up there, it’s all gonna be good.”

He also shared his mindset heading into the 2024 leg of the “M72” tour, saying: “What I’m going into is unknown. I know how big the stage is. I know we have breaks here and there. I know what we’re walking into. When we first started with this, with the ‘M72’ stage, in the round in the stadium, from between setting up cones, walking around thinking, ‘Oh, this is how big the stage is gonna be.’ ‘Oh, this is cool.’ ‘This’ll be great.’ ‘This is too skinny,’ and this and that. And then, between that time and then actually seeing it built, where it’s kind of too late, ‘Oh s**t, this thing is so big.’

“The anxiety level was off the charts at the beginning of the ‘M72’ tour. Like, how are we gonna cover this stage? And, of course, my ego saying, ‘Well, the other guys don’t have to sing. They don’t have to run over there. They don’t have to do all this. And no one knows the woes I have and all the worries.’ But as soon as I share them with the other guys, they’re, like, ‘Yeah, but I got this and I got this.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, okay. Okay. I want mine back. That’s okay.’ So it’s a known. We know what we’re up against and we know what shape we need to be in. And it’s just fun. Now it’s just fun. We broke that stage in. It’s well trodden on and it’s worked fantastically. And so we just get to step back into it and do what we do best.”