Metallica‘s frontman James Hetfield talks about going on rehab, the pandemic, and Metallica’s new album ’72 Seasons.’ Here is everything that James Hetfield goes through in these rehab and studio times.
This interview was published in the official Metallica fanzine So What! magazine. Recovering from addiction is a difficult journey that requires immense courage and dedication. James Hetfield, the lead singer, and guitarist of the iconic heavy metal band Metallica knows this all too well. In 2019, Hetfield returned from rehab for alcoholism, and he has been open about his struggle with addiction ever since.
With this interview we are looking into James Hetfield’s journey through rehab, exploring the challenges he faced, the treatment he received, and the lessons he learned along the way. By looking at James Hetfield’s experiences, we hope to shed light on the importance of seeking help and taking steps toward recovery.
Addiction is a complex and multifaceted disease that can have devastating effects on individuals and their loved ones. For James Hetfield, addiction began as a way to cope with the pressures of fame and the demands of the music industry. However, over time, his substance use spiraled out of control, leading to a number of negative consequences.
One of the biggest challenges Hetfield faced was admitting that he had a problem. Like many people struggling with addiction, he initially denied that his substance use was an issue, insisting that he had everything under control. However, as his behavior became increasingly erratic and his health began to suffer, he realized that he needed help.
James Hetfield’s journey through rehab was not an easy one, but he was determined to overcome his addiction and get his life back on track. He entered a treatment program that focused on cognitive-behavioral therapy and group counseling, which helped him to identify the root causes of his addiction and develop new coping mechanisms.
One of the key elements of Hetfield’s recovery was the support of his family, friends, and bandmates. Metallica postponed their tour to allow Hetfield to focus on his recovery, and they remained supportive throughout his journey. In addition, Hetfield credits his spirituality and faith as important factors in his recovery.
Here is what James Hetfield thoughts about the rehab:
There’s no question that our first 72 seasons of life shape us, but are we capable of change?
James explores the idea of changing the narrative of his past, and confronts the difficulty involved in that.
— Metallica (@Metallica) April 12, 2023
“The feelings of 2020, early spring of 2020… for me, there was a rebirth again, realizing my life was needing some help. Going away to rehab, putting the halt on some band stuff again out of personal health, mental health reasons, you know? That takes priority, even though I just want to keep running and let the band just keep going and run away from problems. I needed to deal with stuff. A lot of rawness at that point. It’s really difficult when there’s so much stuff going on around you in the rest of your life to take time for yourself, to get yourself at least to a point where you feel like you’re functioning. And for me, it hasn’t been easy at times to just shut out the rest of the world.
And then, obviously, when the pandemic happened, it was – and I want to word this right because it was horrible, absolutely horrible for many people – in a strange way, it was kind of a silver lining for me. I was able to put the brakes on life and really take some time to embrace my needs at that time.
So yeah, not discounting all of the terrible things that were happening at that point. It was just a timely thing that happened, and I can see the in it for myself. Well, yeah, therapy and program and rehabs and all that stuff. It’s all helpful for me to get some outside help around that stuff and issues from my past. As far as journaling, I’ll journal on certain struggles or topics that are going on with me. I’m not the sit-down-daily-keeping-a-diary-of-sorts. Like, “Yeah, now it’s the pandemic today, and I feel blah-blah,” there wasn’t a lot of that. But yeah, doodling and writing are certainly things that are helpful to me. Usually, when there’s downtime, lyrical things, subject matters tend to come up, obviously when we’re not focused on stuff we’ve done in the past. There’s this break, there’s a space, a white space there for new ideas and new things to come in.
Yeah, I think, and also out of just sheer fear that I don’t know what else to do with my life. Playing music and being of service, going on tour, playing, writing, and creating. Thank God so much for that. Because I don’t know where I’d be. So I do care for it, and I need to embrace it and accept it.
As far as other people’s worries and concerns and fears about Metallica continuing on or not, you know, I don’t feel responsible for them. But I do feel that I’m responsible for what I can do, what I can put out there. Maybe it seems egotistical to think that there are so many people relying on the Metallica record to get them through the year, whatever it is, I get that it does help people.
It’s not up to me, absolutely. And I think most of the feedback around me going to rehab and all of the stuff, people’s theories, people’s ideas… what does that mean? You know, trying to figure me out. I’m still trying to figure “me” out.
I mean, all that stuff’s out of my control, man. And I get most of that stuff is out of fear because they want Metallica to continue. So do I. So do I, and I’m doing my best to do that, and that’s why I go away. That’s why I go and reboot. That’s just me. Embracing that part of me. And it also allows me to be more vulnerable – looking the world more in the eye and just saying, “Hey, this is how my life is. I wish it was different, I wish it was easy, I wish I didn’t have to do all the stuff, but here’s what I go through. And it brings fuel and meaning and purpose to my craft.”
Here is what James Hetfield thoughts about Metallica’s new album ’72 Seasons’:
“It’s not that I’m not sharing it with them; I don’t know what it is yet. In the past, there’s been, you know, 14 riffs, 14 song ideas. And you just kind of link them together – what matches with one thing. A lot of them are either just subject matter or potent words or maybe even a song title with nothing else. What I tried to do this time was to introduce the vocal patterns and the cadence, the intensity. What are the vocals going to be doing in this song? Trying to introduce that earlier than ever to make me feel more comfortable, and make it a part of the songwriting, so then Lars can feel where to chill out, where to go crazy, where to put certain cymbals even.
I think it’s helpful for everybody to have at least an inkling of what the vocals are going to be doing. Some songs took 10 different ideas, and we would cut and paste. “The beginning of this verse is really great, but the second half of the verse in this is really great. Let’s put these together.” So I was a lot more vulnerable in not so much the lyrics, but the cadence, the vocals. That was freeing as well, and it was helpful for everybody. And then just filling in the blanks with lyrics after that, which I find really challenging and fun. It’s a giant puzzle.”
You can watch Metallica‘s residency with Jimmy Kimmel Live! program below!