Metallica: Moth Into Flame
Metallica: Atlas, Rise!
“I’m a frustrated wannabe-drummer and he’s a frustrated wannabe-guitar-player and singer,” Hetfield jokes. “So I guess that’s how it works out so well.”
That partnership has not always been easy. In 2004, Metallica produced a documentary, Some Kind of Monster, that exposed deep tensions in the band, especially between Ulrich and Hetfield. “At that point, we had been together for just about 20 years and we had never really had a conversation about how we were feeling,” Ulrich says. So they brought in a performance coach (“I think that’s the word he prefers,” Ulrich says) to help the band work on communication.
“That movie was super therapeutic for all of us,” Hetfield says, adding that it helped him view his reactions to conflict with more clarity. And perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to hear two of the best-known rockers in history speak gently about emotion — after all, Hetfield says, “Music is all about emotion.”
Metallica: Dream No More
In that film 12 years ago, rock fans saw Metallica close to imploding. But the band has worked through its issues. “We realize now that there’s nothing creatively or nothing practically that’s worth damaging that relationship over,” Ulrich says. “And — dare I use the word — empathy shows up occasionally in this band now. Like, ‘Wait a minute, I wonder how he’s feeling about this!'”
For these two 50-something dads, getting out on tour can be tough –- and harder on the body than it was 30 years ago. “You know, there’s tennis elbow,” Hetfield says. “But actually, I must say, there’s headbanger’s neck.”
But the two persist through the aches and pains. And to those who still find their music a bit hard on the ears, Ulrich responds with a fun fact: the music of Metallica is now officially in the Library of Congress. “So take that, mister radio-throwing, not-have-your-coffee-yet guy,” Ulrich says. “You’re disrespecting national treasures here.”