METALLICA frontman James Hetfield recently talked to Tim Noakes of Dazed & Confused about his life — from his dark childhood and '80s excesses to his worst fashion crimes and ongoing musical competition with drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett. Watch the five-minute chat at this location.Hetfield spoke frankly in a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine about the band's so-called "wilderness" years, in the mid-to-latter 90s, during which drug use and disagreements over the group's image and sound nearly drove them apart. Hetfield said he was particularly uncomfortable with the change in the group's image around the release of its 1996 album "Load". Hetfield explained, "The whole 'We need to reinvent ourselves' topic was up. Image isn't an evil thing to me, but if the image isn't you, it doesn't make much sense." Hetfield said that he thought Ulrich and Hammett were "after a U2 kind of vibe, Bono doing his alter-ego. I couldn't get into it. I would say at least half the pictures that were to be in the booklet, I yanked out. The cover went against what I was feeling. Lars and Kirk were very into abstract art, pretending they were gay. I think they knew it bugged me. I think the cover of 'Load' was just a piss-take around all that. I just went along with all this crazy stupid shit." Hetfield claimed that Ulrich and Hammett bonded over their drug use during that time and that the band's music suffered too, saying, "A lot of fans got turned off quite a bit by the music — but mostly, I think, by the image." METALLICA bottomed out in the early part of this decade with the controversial "St. Anger" album and the documentary "Some Kind of Monster", which chronicled how they nearly fell apart and how Hetfield himself got sober. The group rebounded last year with the acclaimed "Death Magnetic" record, and Hetfield told The Pulse of Radio there was never really any chance of METALLICA breaking up for good. "You know, 'St. Anger', the 'Monster' movie, all the stuff that we went through — once we got back together and started playing again, we knew that we were given some sort of gift to continue and not fall like many other bands have," he said. "So we've got to take care of this, and we're doing our extra best to do that." Now, Hetfield said in Classic Rock, METALLICA is a very balanced group: "The way things are now, Lars and I are one half of the scale with (bassist) Rob Trujillo and Kirk on the other. They're great people but they're okay with someone else driving. It does take that, I think — they're very un-ego-driven and Lars and I are the other way, it seems."