Lars Ulrich: Phil Towle 'saved' Metallica

A still from Some Kind OF Monster
(Image credit: Metallica/IFC Films)

There were many eye-opening aspects of Metallica's Some Kind Of Monster documentary when it was released in 2004. Chief among them was the perceived incursion of band therapist Phil Towle, whose coaching of the band saw them navigate an emotional minefield – but became less objective counsel and more fifth member as recording progressed. 

As much was noted by US singer songwriter and Metallica fan Phoebe Bridgers, who asked Ulrich about it as part of an interview she conducted for Rolling Stone's Musicians On Musicians series. 

"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.

But Ulrich was quick to dismiss any narrative casting Towle as a villain. "It was a very transitional, experimental time," he says. "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 [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. 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."

During the same interview, Lars confirmed that Metallica are "three, four weeks into some pretty serious writing" on a new album

"Writing always makes me feel enthusiastic about what’s next," he told Bridgers. "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.'"

Meanwhile, it's been revealed that the band's November 14 livestream has raised $1.3 million for their All Within My Hands Foundation. Ticket packages to watch the show are still available to purchase until 11:59 PM PST on December 1st from Nugs TV.

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Briony Edwards

Briony is the Editor in Chief of Louder and is in charge of sorting out who and what you see covered on the site. She started working with Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazines back in 2015 and has been writing about music and entertainment in many guises since 2009. She is a big fan of cats, Husker Du and pizza.