Metallica Therapist Phil Towle Doesn’t Think Jason Newsted Wanted To Leave the Band
It's with 20 years of hindsight that Metallica and Jason Newsted can ponder how the two parties parted ways. Likewise for former band therapist Phil Towle — he's the life coach who lit up the screen in Metallica's Some Kind of Monster documentary, and he recently suggested that, in his opinion, Newsted never wanted to quit.
For Metallica fans, looking back on that time is like opening a whole can of worms — from Newsted's 2001 departure to the 2003 release of St. Anger is a particularly fraught era of the band's history. But Towle was a part of it, and this month, the And Podcast for All Metallica fan show got to talk to him about it.
Listen to the interview down toward the bottom of this post.
"I don't think [Jason] wanted to leave the band," Towle says in a portion of the podcast transcribed by Blabbermouth. "I think he wanted to leave the reality of what existed. And this was the only way he could start to do something with it. And that triggered a whole bunch of things."
The therapist continues, "That contributed to, ultimately, James [Hetfield, Metallica frontman], months later, going into rehab. It wasn't the exact fact, but if you look at the overarching life of Metallica and you see that they were trashing each other in Playboy magazine … Maybe two months later, they come in — January of 2001, I think — and there's this kind of animosity, that Jason is acting out. He's the identified patient of the therapy, so he's acting this act. And then the fight ensued."
Such challenges can be par for the course for one of the biggest metal bands of all time. And those hurdles can show up again, too, as evidenced in the time Hetfield had to revisit rehab more recently — now another piece of Metallica's arduous, but hopefully admonitory, history.
"Have you ever had a fight with your wife?" Towle asks. "When we're fighting with our spouses or significant others or good friends or whatever, it's hard. It's easy to build up the animosity and the resentment when you're feeling uncomfortable. And I think that Jason — this is my second-hand knowledge — but I think that Jason, coming off of [late Metallica bassist] Cliff's [Burton] reputation and the way that Cliff died so tragically, and that he was so instantly a replacement for Cliff, that he became what the guys would say a 'whipping boy.' He was the way that they grieved unhealthily. And Jason, because he was so — like anybody else — so grateful to be a part of the band, never felt like he could quite make it. He was hazed to the point where I think it blew because he'd had enough of something. And when we've had enough of something, then it's hard to go to somebody and say, 'Can we sit down and talk about this?' No. It's, 'Fuck you.' It's a straight head-on… It's, 'This is what I'm pissed off about.' So you have to ride that wave out. And because it was stunning, and because the band had certain resentments — the rest of the band had resentments — these are cumulative effects. And the fact that they never talked out — this is what Lars [Ulrich, Metallica drummer] would say — the whole never really took the time to talk out the issues they were involved in, then this becomes an explosion. Then you have to pick up the pieces of it."
For those who haven't seen it, as And Podcast for All adds in a synopsis, Some Kind of Monster "captures the band in very tough and challenging times. Phil was brought in when Jason Newsted quit, [which] led to James entering rehab during the writing and recording of St. Anger."
Elsewhere in the podcast, listeners can hear "some never before heard stories of the 2001-2004 Metallica years. Hear Jeff & Shane have their own therapy thoughts and share feelings along with Phil revisiting a lot of fond memories of saving our favorite band. Throw on your favorite Phil Towle sweater, grab some 'Zone It' post-it notes and cherish a monstrous Metallica era."