METALLICA’s KIRK HAMMETT: ‘We’re Just Now Starting To Think About Writing New Material’

Shawn Fernandes of recently conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. Can Indian fans expect any new material at the [upcoming] shows [in October]?

Kirk Hammett: Well, as far as new material is concerned we’re just now starting to think about writing new material. I guess if anything is going to be finished between now and the end of October, who knows? We may play a new song, we may not, but because India’s kind of a special place and it’s the first time we’re playing there, we might even break out a song that we haven’t played for a while. Which band, in your opinion, is the best band of the “Big Four?”

Kirk Hammett: Err… well, us [laughs]. But, of course, I’d say us. The better question is who’s my second favorite? Fair enough. So who’s your second favorite band?

Kirk Hammett: I have to say SLAYER. What can I say, they’re evil, they’re heavy and they don’t really compromise. SLAYER just rules. I also have to say though; Scott Ian [from ANTHRAX] is one of my best friends. I’ve known him for as long as I’ve been in the band and we hang out a lot socially. We do things together, our families get together, so I have to say I really just like hanging out with Scott ’cause he’s one of my bros. With all the touring, has the band been able to get cracking on a new album?

Kirk Hammett: We haven’t really started yet; we’re thinking about it, though. [laughs] There’s just a bunch of other things that we’re doing right now. We keep telling ourselves that we’re going to get ’round to start writing songs but, you know, something comes up. Normally it’s a show or us having to travel to India to play or something or the other, and then the album gets put on the backburner for a bit. But I think personally, the new album will just happen when it happens. You learnt under a legend, the great Joe Satriani. How did that happen and what was it like?

Kirk Hammett: Well, by that time I had my Flying V and one day I said to a friend of mine, “Your guitar playing’s really good. What’s up? How come you’re playing so good?” He said, “Oh, I found this new teacher in Berkeley, his name is Joe. You should check him out.” So I went to this music store called Secondhand Guitars in Berkeley and I walk in and in the back I can hear someone playing guitar, crazy guitar, like no other guitar playing I’d ever heard. I went back there and there was Joe sitting on a chair and he says, “Hi, are you my new student?” I said “Yeah,” and so we sat down and Joe just started playing. Even back then he sounded like he does now. I mean, all the components of his guitar style were in place back then. I was just so totally blown away by his technique and his style. The first thing he said to me is: “OK, if you’re going to take lessons from me I expect you to learn your lessons. If you come in next week without learning the lessons, you’re just going to be wasting our time and there’s no real lesson for you to be taking lessons.” So he kinda basically told me to have my act together when I came in the next week. So I had the lesson, learnt everything over the week and came back the next week. It just totally grew from there. I could tell that Joe really liked playing with me because we would always play longer than the allotted time. I mean usually he’d spend about a half an hour with his other students but for some odd reason he’d spend more time with me. I found out later that it was just because he liked playing guitar with me. Later on in interviews, Joe said that when he first started teaching me he could see something in my playing style and my approach that was just radically different from most people’s approach at the time. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I was way into heavy metal at a time when heavy metal wasn’t even popular. It probably also had something to do with the fact that I was listening to guitar players like Ulrich Roth and Michael Schenker. I mean, there weren’t a whole lot of people in the United States back then who even knew who those guitar players were. So I was coming from a pretty unique sort of perspective. I learnt a lot of things from Joe, a lot of things about technique especially. I also learnt that feel is better than anything and everything. So I’ve always strived be a player with a lot of feeling rather than a player with a lot of technique. I was always aware of the fact that you can say just as much with five notes as you can with five thousand notes. Learning that was very, very important to me. METALLICA‘s been around 28 years now. We’ve seen many metal bands come and go, the genre itself has been through its ups and downs. What’s that special sauce that’s kept METALLICA at the very top for the last 30 years?

Kirk Hammett: I honestly don’t know. All I can tell you is that I think our music stands the test of time. The music still sounds modern and still sounds relevant 30 years in. People are hearing it and they still hear it fresh. All I can say is that it’s just incredible that it’s actually happened to us. We have to ask you about this new book about horror movie memorabilia that you’re working on called “Too Much Horror Business”.

Kirk Hammett: It’s a book on vintage horror movie posters and vintage monster toys. I’ve been collecting this stuff for, like, forever. I bought my first monster movie magazine when I was five years old and I’ve been into this stuff forever. I just decided one day that because I have this huge collection of posters and monster toys, that I was going to share it with the world. Basically that’s what I’m doing right now, I’m just sharing it with the world. It’s really fun. It’s a lot of work and I’m still working on it right now but it’s a lot of fun and I can’t wait to release it.

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