Metallica Therapist Phil Towle Says Lars Ulrich Was Angry At James Hetfield After His Rehab

Metallica’s therapist and performance enhancement coach Phil Towle recently gave an interview to Metal Hammer to talk about the time he worked with the band. He remembered when Lars Ulrich got angry toward James Hetfield after returning from rehab.

James Hetfield had issues with alcoholism throughout most of his career in Metallica. Due to that, he decided to go into rehab in 2001, while the band was recording their eighth studio album titled ‘St. Anger.’ Hetfield then spent seven months in rehab and four months with his family as part of his recovery. Hetfield rejoined Metallica after this recovery process, but the band had faced internal conflicts.

The band had to postpone the recordings of ‘St. Anger’ after Hetfield entered rehabilitation, causing some tension within the band. Even after Hetfield got out of rehab, his absence affected the album’s progress. Back in those days of turmoil, Metallica’s management company Q Prime approached the psychotherapist and performance enhancement coach Phil Towle to ease relations within the band. Moreover, this time of Metallica’s career was documented in 2004’s ‘Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster.’

In an interview with Metal Hammer, Phil Towle remembered the time James Hetfield returned from rehab. He stated that the band members had been waiting for Hetfield for so long to continue working on the album, but Hetfield came up and said he could not work between certain hours. According to Towle, Lars Ulrich was pissed off and told Hetfield that he had controlled them for ten months during his recovery period. Towle added that Ulrich was expressing his pent-up anger while Hetfield was trying to maintain sobriety.

In the interview with Metal Hammer, Phil Towle recalled the following:

“These guys were 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 f*ck? We’ve been waiting for you, and you’ve controlled us for ten months.’

He probably felt that James had controlled them for more than ten months, right? So this was the collision of years of frustration. Lars was not being an a**hole. He was just somebody 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.”

‘St. Anger’ was finally released on June 5, 2003, featuring a song about Hetfield’s rehab days, titled ‘Frantic.’ Although Hetfield recovered from alcoholism back at that time, he once again entered rehab in 2019. This time, the frontman caused one of Metallica’s tours to be canceled.