playboy april 2001
interview
Metallica

PLAYBOY: Since you love Denmark so much, why were you in LA?
ULRICH: I finished school in Denmark and moved to America to pursue a tennis career. We ended up in Newport Beach, which is like the snottiest fucking area of LA apart from Beverly Hills. There's all these kids in their fucking pink Lacoste shirts, and I'm in my Iron Maiden T-shirts. I guess there was a hatred for all that, a bit of an alienation. James Hetfield was the king of alienation. So there was a bit of a brotherly thing that brought us together.
PLAYBOY: How alienated was James when you met him?
ULRICH: I'd never met anyboday that shy. He was really withdrawn, almost afraid of social contact. He also had a bad acne problem.
HETFIELD: There wasn't much to say, I guess. When I met Lars, my mother had just passed away. Everyone was the enemy back then. I wasn't the best at talking - that came just from growing up in the environment I was in, kind of alienated. I was tired of explaining my religious situation. Once the band formed, I thought, I don't have to talk anymore. Lars can say it all. The no one really understood what the hell songs were about[laughs].
PLAYBOY: So, what was you religious situation?
HETFIELD: I was raised as a Christian Scientist, which is a strange religion. The main rule is, God will fix everything. Your body is just a shell, you don't need doctors. It was alienating and hard to understand. I couldn't get a physical to play football. It was weird having to leave health class during school, and all the kids saying, "Why do you have to leave? Are you some kind of freak?". As a kid, you want to be part of the team. They're always whispering about you and thinking you're weird. That was very upsetting. My dad taught Sunday school - he was into it. It was pretty much forced upon me. We had these little testimonials, and there was a girl that had her arm broken. She stood up and said, "I broke my arm but now, look, it's al better." But it was just, like, mangled. Now that I think about it, it was pretty disturbing.
PLAYBOY: Did you ever run away from home?
HETFIELD: Once, me and my sister split. Our parents caught us about four blocks away. They spanked the shit out of us, pretty much.
PLAYBOY: So do you believe in spanking your kids?
HETFIELD: Spanking my friends, and their wives. Yeah, as a last resort. But with the spanking comes a huge explanation why.
PLAYBOY: What was your parents' relationship like?
HETFIELD: It was my mom's second marriage - I have two older half brothers. I didn't really see any turmoil. They didn't argue in front of the kids. Then Dad went on a "businness trip" - for more than a few years, you know? I was beginning junior high. It was hidden, that he was gone. Finally, my mom said, "Dad is not coming back." And that was pretty difficult. There were some bad times-my mom needed to be home when we kids were home, or I'd have killed my sister. We beat the living hell out of each other. I remember burning her with hot oil and that was, "Wow, it went too far". My mom worried a lot, and that made her sick. She hid it from us. All of a sudden, she's in the hospital. Then all of a sudden, she's gone. Cancer got here. We went and lived with my stepbrohter Dave, who's 10 years older. My sister was being unruly, and she got thrown out of the house. I finished high school, then, "See ya, everybody."
HAMMETT: James comes from a broken home, and I come from a broken home, and when I joined the band, we kind of bonded over that. I was abused as a child. My dad drank a lot. He beat the shit out of me and my mom quite a bit. I got ahold of a guitar, and from the time I was 15, I rarely left my room. I remember having to pull my dad off my mom when he attacked her one time, during my 16th birthday - he turned on me and started slapping me around. Then my dad just left one day. My mom was struggling to support me and my sister. I've definitely channeled a lot of anger into the music. I was also abused by my neighbour when I was like nine or 10. The guy was a sick fuck. He had sex with my dog, Tippy. I can laugh about it now-hell, I was laughing about it then.
PLAYBOY: It does seem that heavy metal attracts a disproportionate number of people who've been abused.
HAMMETT: I think heavy metal is therapeutic - it's music that blows the tension away. I think that's why people who have had really bad childhoods are attracted to heavy metal. It allows people to release aggression and tension in a nonviolent way. Also, heavy metal has a community feeling - it brings outsiders together. Heavy metal seems to attract all sorts of scruffy, lost animals, strays no one wants.
ULRICH: I've always had issues with that, because I don't feel I had major psychological damage in my life. Why is that limited to metal? If you go to an Elton John concert, people have the same emotional baggage. If you lined 10 Metallica fans up against the wall, you would get 10 different stories.
PLAYBOY: And three of them would piss on the wall.
ULRICH: And one of them would knock his head against the wall, yeah. I'm not so comfortable embracing those types of cliches.

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