James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich recently spoke to the San Francisco Bay Guardian about the making of their $4.3-million documentary "Some Kind of Monster". Several excerpts from the interview follow:
On the sequence when former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine joins Ulrich for a one-on-one therapy session:
James Hetfield: "When I saw that footage, I really wished I'd been there. There was a part of me that wanted to protect Lars from being attacked like that. I think Lars took responsibility for more than he had to — it wasn't just his burden to bear. I also wish that I could have helped translate some of the stuff Dave was saying, since as another person who is going through recovery, I knew where he was coming from too. I mean, we were 19 at the time. We didn't know about A.A.! We were on our own path to hell! But I'm really glad Dave came up to do that. I respect that a lot."
Lars Ulrich: "What do I feel when I see that footage? I feel sad for [Dave] ... not in a condescending way. Just sad that he feels what he's accomplished has been less than what we've done. I mean, he's made albums that I personally consider to be two or three of the best metal albums ever — I still listen to them! I'm surprised that he doesn't think he's a success. But hey, he's dealing with his stuff, just like we're dealing with our issues. I think that took guts."
On whether they are ready to show the world their "true" faces:
Lars Ulrich: "You want to act like you don't give a fuck what people think, but of course you give a fuck! I'm a human being. I care what people think of me even if I act like I don't. That whole Napster thing ... man, I wished we'd done it differently and had more information on stuff before we went out on a limb with it. I recognize there's a part of me that has this kindergarten-playground mentality, that likes to stir shit up. But as I get older, I realize that doesn't make me a bad person. The therapy helped a lot with that too.
"We wouldn't be a band if it weren't for this. The therapy and the film – it literally saved us. I'm not exaggerating. I'm so proud of the film and even prouder we had the balls to see this through. I think we're better people for it."
James Hetfield: "Well, the first time I saw this, I did think, 'Are we really sure we want to put this out?' There's some personal shit in there, y'know, stuff I see on-screen and think is just too embarrassing or intimate for others to see, but right now, that's kind of what I need in my life to keep myself humble and real.
"I'm really ready to blow that whole macho bullshit image thing out of the water. When I'm onstage and I'm playing the music that we play, this, well, character, I guess, comes out of me. That guy started to take me over a bit – it was ridiculous. People do expect you to be 'that dude from Metallica' all the time. You can't live like that. And ironically, now that I've put that person behind me a bit, I feel more like a man than ever before.
"I hope the fans get out of this what they need to. Everyone goes through some bad shit, including us. It's a little scary opening up to this extent and then putting it out for everybody to see, but to me, it was like another part of my recovery, y'know. Letting some people in.
"All we wanted was to try and capture something truthful. And this is as raw as it gets. I'd like the fans to get to know us a little better with this. The more people who see who I really am, the more I can live comfortably in this world. It was a leap of faith, but I think it worked. We all needed to do this."
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On the sequence when former METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine joins Ulrich for a one-on-one therapy session:
Lars Ulrich: "That interaction was emotional on many different levels. Especially bewildering, because it was difficult for me to comprehend that when he thinks back on his career and his own achievements and of making some of the best heavy metal albums of the '80s and onwards that he only thinks of playing second fiddle to METALLICA. That's kind of hard to comprehend. I thought it was great to spend some time with him. I've always had a soft spot for him. I've always thought he was sweeter than he was portrayed. I've always felt like hugging Dave Mustaine. I don't know why, maybe I'm sexually attracted to him. I've always enjoyed spending any kind of time with him. We go through these periods where we talk on the phone a lot and then we don’t talk for like a year and then all of a sudden we'll talk on the phone once a week for six months."
James Hetfield: "I wanted to jump in there and defend Lars, first of all. I can really, really relate to what Dave has gone through. He still struggles with a less than kind of thing. Out of all the great things he's accomplished, the critic in his mind is just relentless. I'm glad I wasn't there — if I was there it might have disrupted the natural way those two were communicating. It was cool to see Lars — I think he was more revealing in that scene than any other. He wasn't playing to the camera. I think he started getting loss and taking blame for things he didn't need to. Also really great for Dave, that's great footage to watch. It gives everyone hopefully a great insight into what struggles he's gone through as well."
On the fact that Dave wasn't very happy with his scene in the film and whether he talked to them about it:
Lars Ulrich: "We never talked about it directly, but I believe [the film's directors] Joe and Bruce kind of forwarded the Dave Mustaine scene or something close to the Dave Mustaine scene to him and he was not super-receptive to it. We were kind of debating what we should do with that. We're passed the point of pissing people off, at least on purpose. He wasn't super-receptive to it, we couldn't figure out if it was his managers or him; it was just odd.
"One thing that even happened to me is early on when I started to see some scenes from the film edited together it was difficult to watch, and odd. As soon as I saw it in the dramatic thread, as a film, I was like, 'Of course!' We could not obviously send him the film (or maybe we could have) but he saw that scene as an isolated entity and he was apparently not super psyched about the vulnerable Dave Mustaine being out there for the masses or whatever. It's unfortunate."
On whether there has been any follow-up to the meeting with Dave:
James Hetfield: "The only communications we've had regarding him is that he's somewhat annoyed at the footage and that disappointed me a little bit, but that makes sense to me. But I think the more feedback he gets from people the better he'll feel about it."
On the scenes with former bassist Jason Newsted, about what he was saying about the band and the egos:
James Hetfield: "Well, it's tough. There's truth to that in his reality as well. And yeah, egos, sure. He was surely one of them. The three together did not work. The way that the band is now there's a Lars and a James who are a little heavier on the ego side and there's a Kirk and a Rob, it balances it out really well. With Jason in there it was a little bit of, 'Hey, what about me?' We didn’t give him that chance, we'd crush his things every time, it was the nature of how we were. We'd do it different now. We can't change what we did back then — well we can by not doing it again. It must have been tough."
On how the fans have reacted to the film:
James Hetfield: "I haven't heard a lot of negative stuff coming back. I don't if that's because you get back what you put out, that people show up who need to show up at the time. Or if it just doesn't move them or they don't care, or if the ones that are negative about it are just soaking it up. But the feedback's been pretty good. We've gone on tour and there's been screenings here and there and people we've seen at the meet-and-greets have said that there were times they felt so embarrassed because they felt they shouldn't be seeing that stuff. Less with the Europeans. They feel, 'Wow, you're human. Hello, welcome!' They relate to it more I think. Americans are more shocked by the candidness. In America there seems to be more of a need to cover things up."