METALLICA‘s “performance coach” Phil Towle, a former psychotherapist who was brought into the picture in January 2001 to help James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich repair their relationship with Jason Newsted, was interviewed on the latest episode of the METALLICA-centric podcast “…And Podcast For All”. During the chat, Towle was asked about one of the most memorable scenes in the METALLICA documentary “Some Kind Of Monster” in which Ulrich is confronted by former METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine about being kicked out of the band in 1983 for being a belligerent drunk. The meeting between Ulrich and Mustaine took place on September 13, 2001, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco, California, and was refereed by Towle.
“The Mustaine session itself was pivotal for Lars and Dave, but it wasn’t complete for Dave,” Towle told “…And Podcast For All” (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “I mean, obviously. It was the first chance that Mustaine had had to be able to purge. And I think Lars did a great job of opening up and doing his best to take it on without trying to change Dave‘s mind. He couldn’t really answer the soulful part of Dave‘s pain; he couldn’t heal that pain. Dave has to heal that pain in response to what was going on. But the conversation was an opener; it was a great opener for them to be able to… It was a way for each of them to communicate what was in their heart and on their minds. And like so many parts of life, it had its own standalone features, but it wasn’t standalone. It was an opportunity for both of them to reconnect in healthy way. Look what happened — they brought Mustaine back when they were inducted into the [Rock And Roll] Hall Of Fame, right?” he said, apparently referring to METALLICA‘s reunion with Mustaine at the 30th-anniversary concerts in San Francisco in 2011. ‘So, that led to that; I’m sure that was part of it.”
In the aforementioned “Some Kind Of Monster” scene, Mustaine told Ulrich that his dismissal from METALLICA ruined his life and that he has always lived in the shadow of his former bandmates, even though he had earned several platinum albums of his own with his post-METALLICA band MEGADETH.
In 2004, Mustaine told MTV News that he didn’t approve the five-minute clip to be included in the film, because he felt the clip didn’t represent the full extent of what happened in the meeting.
“If you watch the stuff linearly, it’s totally different,” Mustaine said. “They filmed three hours of us together and they only used about five minutes. Why didn’t they use the part where Lars gets up and walks to the bathroom crying because I let him have it because of the shit that happened?”
“Some Kind Of Monster” filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky told MTV News in a statement that “we stand by what we filmed, how we filmed it, and our decisions in the editing room. … We are all very surprised that Mr. Mustaine is displeased. We found him to be an intelligent, articulate person struggling with the same issues as METALLICA — questions of creative and existential identity and collaborative tensions. Lars Ulrich is shown in an equally human manner, even shedding a tear on camera during the scene. … While we certainly couldn’t include the entire three hours we shot with him, we strongly believe that the scene in question is truthful and representative of the emotions that transpired.”
Mustaine said that he signed the release papers after the therapy session but only on the condition he was given the chance to green-light the footage he was in after it was edited. He received a tape of his scene more than a year later and was displeased with what he saw. He then relayed a message to METALLICA that he didn’t want his scene released.
“It didn’t mean anything to them,” Mustaine said. “Then Lars put his spin on it, saying, ‘Well, we looked at [his statement], and we couldn’t figure out if it was him or the management saying it.’ Who gives a fuck? We didn’t approve it, and that’s all that should have mattered.”
Berlinger and Sinofsky told MTV News that they did nothing wrong by including the scene in the film.
“As is our standard practice, the release form that Mr. Mustaine signed on the day of the shoot did not include any provision that he, or any of the dozens of other people we filmed who signed this same release, would have approval over the material,” they said. “However, throughout the filming of the scene, there were several moments that became particularly emotional, in which Mr. Mustaine asked us to turn the camera off, a request we honored — none of that material was included in the film. The footage that was used did not have any restrictions from Mr. Mustaine when he signed the release.
“Two years after filming the scene with Mr. Mustaine, we contacted his representatives not for approval over the scene, but in order to request permission to use clips of MEGADETH videos and archival footage. … When Mr. Mustaine asked to see how he appeared in our film before he would grant permission to use this archival material, we sent him a copy of the scene, assuming he would see it as positive. When we were told that he was unhappy with his portrayal, we offered to screen the entire film for him in person … [but] he refused our offer. There was no attempt to stab him in the back by anyone connected to this film.”
Mustaine, for his part, told MTV News that he “had no idea” he “was getting set up. And the thing I don’t understand is that for 20 years they’ve said that I was the temporary guitar player, and that I was no good,” he said. “You don’t talk about me, and basically pretended that I never even existed, and now I’m so goddamn important I gotta be in the movie? Give me a break.”
Dave spoke about his “Some Kind Of Monster” scene in a 2010 interview with the Chicago Tribune. After the interviewer pointed out that Mustaine came across in the scene like a guy who has never quite completely gotten over being fired from METALLICA, Dave said: “I think that’s pretty accurate. I care about those things. I still do. I was drinking and drugging, but I never got any warning from Lars and James when they fired me. They just put me on a bus and sent me home. The movie was something they were doing, and I didn’t know what it was about. I’d been through enough therapy myself, so I didn’t mind being put in that situation. All I wanted was some closure and to have a new relationship with those guys. We did so much damage to the relationship through drugs and alcohol. I still wanted to be friends with him. I knew sitting down and talking with that guy was going to address part of it. I just wanted closure with these guys so we could put the past behind us. We were kids when it all went down. But James wasn’t there when Lars and I had our talk (in the movie). James said to me at the ‘Big Four’ concert that he wished he had been there, and I was moved by that. I thought he was a gentleman; I was very proud of him.”
In a 2009 interview with Norway’s Lydverket, Mustaine said that he was “so hurt” by getting kicked out of METALLICA for allegedly drinking too much. “I said, ‘What?! No second chance, no warning? C’mon, we all drink. C’mon.'” he recalled. “And [they were like], ‘No, that’s it. You’re gone.’ And I was like, ‘All right.'”
Mustaine also went on to claim that an altercation with Hetfield led to his being fired from the band.
“I was selling pot,” Dave said. “When I would go play in concert, people knew that my pot was sitting in my apartment just saying, ‘Go ahead and keep me company.’ So I was broken in on. People stole everything that I had; all my stash. And I figured, screw this. I’m gonna get some dogs to stay in the apartment when I leave. So I got two dogs and I took one of them up to a rehearsal one time and she put her paws up on Ron‘s [McGovney, METALLICA‘s then-bassist] car. And James kicked it right in the side. And I was like, ‘What did you do?’ [And I was like] ‘It’s a dog, it’s what they do. You don’t kick animals.’ So we went into the house, and we started arguing some more. And I ended up punching him in the face and I think that was the root of why I lost my job.”
In a 2009 interview with the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas radio station 97.1 The Eagle Rocks, Hetfield said that it was “so odd” to hear Mustaine still talking about his exit from METALLICA. “It is very Dave, and that’s him,” James said. “And no matter what band he was in or whatever… I mean, Dave is not in this band for a reason, and this is the reason. It’s super-simple. He was in the band for 11 months and it goes on and on and on and on and on. I don’t know any other band on this planet that there was a member in the band for a short amount of time and they’ve still got this big chip on his shoulder. It’s insane…. You know what?! He’s in love, and that’s fine, ’cause we love him back.”
Back in 2016, Hammett told the “Word Of Wheeler” podcast that he understood Dave‘s continued resentment toward his former bandmates over the way he was dismissed from the group. “I’ve always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry, really frustrated about his situation with METALLICA, and he never could let that go,” he said. “And, you know, I’ve always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off. It’s the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you. I mean, really. When your band kicks you out… I’ve never been kicked out, but I can imagine it’s a horrible experience, especially if it’s a band that you feel really passionately about. So I can understand Dave‘s plight over all these years. But I will also say that when we did these 30th-anniversary shows at the Fillmore [in San Francisco], and we invited Dave to play on all those ‘Kill ‘Em All’ songs, man, it felt so good to have him playing on stage. It felt perfectly fine for me to, while Dave was playing the guitar solos, for me to go over to James and play the rhythm parts with James, and it wasn’t a big deal at all. And I could see from the look on Dave‘s face and just from his whole attitude that it was super-cathartic for him. And I could see how it was helping him. And so I just took it all in stride. And it’s interesting, because since then, I think, Dave‘s relationship with us is a little bit better now. I’d like to think that that whole thing just kind of healed some scars that needed to be healed.”
After Hammett‘s comments about Mustaine were reported by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and other music sites, Dave took to his Twitter to respond. He wrote: “I have tremendous respect for @KirkHammett and I appreciate his take on this. he is almost 100% accurate…almost. I wish him the best.”
In a September 2011 interview with Artisan News, Mustaine appeared to concur that his onstage reunion with METALLICA went a long way toward healing the wounds from the way his tenure in the band ended. Dave said: “When we [played a cover of DIAMOND HEAD‘s] ‘Helpless’ [as part of a ‘Big Four’ jam] one night, I walked over to say hello to Kirk on the stage and he said, ‘Do you wanna take the solo?” and I said, ‘Yeah.’ [Laughs] But we forgot to tell anybody on the stage or [running] the sound out front that I was gonna do the solo, so the song’s playing along and Kirk‘s playing rhythm full blast, and I’m sitting there going you can’t hear what I’m doing. At least we knew what had happened. It was kind of a symbolic passing of the torch back to me and it was a nice gesture. I think that that helped Kirk and my relationship improve a bit.”
In a September 2004 interview, Mustaine famously stated, “I really don’t care about Kirk — he stole my job, but at least I got to bang his girlfriend before he took my job. How do I taste, Kirk?”
Mustaine did not play on any METALLICA albums and did not attend their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Ulrich later explained to The Plain Dealer that Mustaine was not included because “you’ve got to kind of cap it somewhere. Dave Mustaine never played on any METALLICA records. No disrespect to him. But there [were] half a dozen other people that were in the lineup in the early days. We thought . . . the fair thing to do would be to include anybody that played on a METALLICA record.” He added: “Dave Mustaine was in the band for 11 months, predominantly in 1982… I’m not trying to play it down. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his accomplishments since.”
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