Metallica’s Lars Ulrich: ‘Some Kind of Monster’ Therapist Phil Towle Saved the Band
Metallica's Lars Ulrich recently went to bat for Phil Towle, the therapist who memorably mediated between the veteran metal band's members in the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster.
In fact, the drummer outright said he saved the group.
Metallica fans who've viewed the film probably haven't forgotten Towle's invasive but ultimately helpful role. In the movie, amid some pronounced intra-band turmoil, the band's management brings the therapist on as a peacemaker thanks to his experience as a "performance enhancement coach."
But Towle's presence also makes for some surprising moments in the doc. A particularly obtrusive one was on the mind of singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers when she chatted with Ulrich for Rolling Stone on Nov. 20.
"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," Bridgers said. "I was like, 'Oh, my God.'"
But although that sounds like a possible nightmare scenario between an established rock act and their group counselor, Ulrich stood up for Towle's methods and explained the situation that led them to him.
"It was a very transitional, experimental time," Ulrich explained. "We'd been a band for 20 years, and we realized 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."
The drummer continued, "It was a difficult time with Phil. And as easy as 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."
Talk about a robust vindication for the band therapist who's likely been the butt of many Metallica fans' jokes upon viewing the film. While Towle's approach may have seemed silly at times, Ulrich certainly appears pleased with it now. And, since that time, Metallica's influence has only grown larger.
For her part, Bridgers is also beginning to get a taste of mainstream rock stardom. The musician grabbed a total of four nominations among Tuesday's (Nov. 24) 2021 rock and metal Grammy nominees. Not the least of which being one of the all-female selections for the Best Rock Performance category.
See Metallica in the 66 Best Metal Songs of the 21st Century