METALLICA's JAMES HETFIELD: 'You Wouldn't Really Like Me If You Knew What Horrible Things I've Done'
February 20, 2015
In the one-and-a-half-minute video below, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield opens up about his rocky, shameful past. He says: "You wouldn't really like me if you knew my story, if you knew what horrible things I've done. I'm coming to grips with that, 'cause I have groups of people that I'm able to share all my horrible stuff with — shameful, extremely shameful, dark stuff. Some of it is things I've taken from my parents and carried it a little further. Other ones, I've been able to drops some of that. Other ones I've picked up on my own and then created… Shame's a big thing for me."
He adds: "Playing music has saved my life. Every day saves my life. When I'm able to write… write a riff, write some lyrics, stuff like that… it's the way I connect with the world. And so I think kids that do have the gift of art, writing painting, drawing, designing, metalwork, woodwork… any craft-type stuff… caring for that… caring for that."
Also available below are previously released clips of Hetfield talking about growing up with and overcoming his fear of responsibility and how that has played a part in his recovery from drug addiction; Hetfield sharing his views on what it means to be a role model and what he tells young people when they ask him for advice; and Hetfield talking about how he has been seeking validation his whole life — both from his family and the band's fans.
The Hetfield videos were produced by Road Recovery, an organization dedicated to helping young people battle addiction and other adversities, in partnership with Hooplaha.
It was during the late '90s that cracks began to show in both METALLICA's public image and Hetfield's tough-guy demeanor. Always a heavy drinker, his alcohol intake reached toxic levels in 2001 just as the band was starting work on its eighth studio album.
He recalled the moment when he made the decision to get help for his problems with drugs and alcohol. "My wife threw me out of the house and I went to rehearsal, and she could not believe that I had done that, and said, 'You've got to check yourself in somewhere,' and I said, 'Nah, no way, I'm the singer for METALLICA, I can't get help. I don't need help,'" he told The Pulse Of Radio. "A lot of denial. She was very adamant about me seeking the help and I went in, I think, for her and for my family."
Hetfield said that entering rehab was one of the scariest times in his life. "I was just kind of really scared," he said. "I was dropped off into this place and at that point my family was in question. Basically the family had split up, or I was no longer in the house, and it was totally one of the most scary times in my life. It was really like the earth was shaking under me, there was no stability, it felt like a constant earthquake. I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going."
Hetfield got clean and sober in 2002, returning to METALLICA to record the controversial "St. Anger" album and make the documentary "Some Kind Of Monster", which chronicled his struggle as well as the band's near-breakup.