James Hetfield and filmmaker Justin Hunt were at the San Rafael California Film Institute in San Rafael, California to present and discuss the award-winning documentary “Absent”.
The documentary explores the worldwide crisis of absent and disengaged fathers and the negative impact that the “father wound” makes on society.
A short video clip of Hetfield answering a question at the event can be viewed below.
When asked by Rockville Music Magazine if there is anything that could pull him away or keep him from missing one of his kid’s birthdays, Hetfield replied, “No. And if there happens to be a show that is accidentally book because I’m, you know, (laughing) in the early ages of Alzheimer’s, or too much headbanging, then [my kids] are there. We’ll pull them from school and fly them to Lisbon or fly them to Philly, or wherever it is, so the kids gets to celebrate with their Pops.
But, you know, that was the old me. Fatherhood, I don’t know, I can only speak for myself. I was waiting to be ready for it, and now when I talk to some friends [who are saying], ‘I don’t know if this is the girl for me, I’m afraid we’re going to have kids. I don’t know how to do all this.’ I say, ‘Ah, well you’re normal.’ I had no clue on what to do. I thought I’d better start reading some books on how to be dad. I started to get mad. My dad didn’t teach me to do this or this. How can I teach my kids if he didn’t teach me?! I’d better go learn it. There was a lot of resentment that came from fear. And once I figured out they don’t need all of that. They don’t need the instructions. They need guidance. They need love. They need you to be there, simple as that. They have been the teachers. (laughing) I have not taught them a whole lot. I told them a bunch of stories, basically. (More laughter from Hunt and Hetfield) They have taught me a lot about myself, and life, and how to live life easier.
Regarding whether he ever looks back and sees a pivotal moment where it just clicked for him, what kind of dad he wanted to be, James said, “That pivotal moment was, and I can close my eyes and be there again, it’s in our house, a couple of houses ago. We moved to try to get some better vibes elsewhere. (laughing) Sitting in the house, visiting my kids because [at the time] I wasn’t really allowed, because I wasn’t living there. But just sitting with the kids and just realizing, ‘You know what?! I don’t have to do anything else. I don’t have to show up for this gig. I don’t have to, you know, I can be late for this. All that shit can go away. All I have to do is just sit here with my kids,’ and that is fine. It was the pivotal moment that I realized there is a certain priority in this life and they are at the top of it.”