Ex-Metallica Therapist Says Lars Ulrich ‘Was Not Being an A–hole’ to James Hetfield in Explosive ‘Some Kind of Monster’ Scene
Metallica's 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster is fraught with confrontational moments between the band's members, and perhaps most explosive of all was when Lars Ulrich got in James Hetfield's face and screamed, "Fuck!" Phil Towle, the group's former psychotherapist and performance enhancement coach, offered clarity on this scene in an interview with Metal Hammer and reasoned why the drummer "was not being an asshole" to his bandmate who had just returned from rehab.
In the film, Ulrich and Hetfield consistently engage in battles of all sorts, most of them rooted in the concept of control. This ranged from songwriting and whether or not one another could offer input about the other's playing to heated personal moments, all of which offered tremendous insight to the inner workings of Metallica.
In one of the most memorable scenes, Metallica discussed the parameters of a new working schedule, as defined by Hetfield, who was seeking a stronger family/work balance after a 10-month stint in rehab for anger and alcohol issues. The frontman had requested reduced daily working hours (12PM to 4PM), which would afford him time in the late afternoons and evenings to be with his family. This meant that no members of the group could work on a single thing during the St. Anger writing and recording sessions — nobody was allowed to even listen to audio playbacks of the day's work.
These rules did not sit well with Ulrich, whose anger and frustration was uncorked as Hetfield took the brunt of the verbal lashing. View a short video clip of this moment below.
Lars Ulrich Screams 'Fuck!' at James Hetfield in Some Kind of Monster
Towle, who worked closely to restore the relationships between the Metallica members and create a strong foundation upon which to rebuild, spoke with Metal Hammer for their magazine issue celebrating 40 years of Metallica.
In regards to this infamous Some Kind of Monster scene, Towle explained, "These guys are waiting for James. Waiting, waiting, waiting… not only waiting, but wondering whether James was ever going to come back. They were scared it was over. And when James comes marching back and says, ‘I can’t work between certain hours and certain hours’, Lars was really pissed off. Like, ‘What the fuck? We’ve been waiting for you, and you’ve controlled us for 10 months. And he probably felt that James had controlled them for more than 10 months, right? So this was the collision of years of frustration."
“Lars was not being an asshole. He was just someone who was expressing the pent-up anger he had felt. And James was saying, ‘Look guys, I have to work with my family, maintain my sobriety and maintain my composure.’ So that collision was scary, but it was necessary," Towle urged.
Co-director Joe Berlinger also defended Towle's commitment to Metallica, which has been interpreted in many ways by fans.
"I think the misperception is that [Towle] had his hooks in the band for fees and he was just looking to milk the situation. I don’t think that’s the case at all," said Berlinger, who added, "I think he’s a caring human being who wears his heart on his sleeve, and did great work in the band, and it got to the point where his job was done, and he had a hard time saying goodbye. But in having a hard time saying goodbye, he unwittingly gave Metallica the tools they needed once again to come together as a brotherhood."