Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett opened up in a big way in a recent interview with Matt Pinfield on the Westwood One radio show, 2 Hours With Matt Pinfield.
Kirk Hammett has always been considered the quiet and quirky (Quirk Hammett) member of Metallica. The guitar maestro has always marched to the beat of his own drum, never letting his love of horror movies and memorabilia, or his interest in eastern spiritualism be diminished by whatever Metalli-drama was raging at any given time in the band. Kirk has also played – or attempted to play – the role of mediator between Metallica’s creators: frontman James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. Prior to 2003, when Metallica nearly imploded after the departure of bassist Jason Newsted and Hetfield’s own struggle with addictions, it’s a miracle that the machine known as Metallica didn’t rip itself apart. James and Lars, though the best of friends, each had egos and stubborn streaks to match. Can you imagine if Metallica would have had a third ego thrown in the mix? Kirk’s willingness to take a backseat, to be the proverbial silent third wheel, to be a voice of reason – whether it was listened to or not – probably did a lot to keep Metallica from burning itself out through the first seven albums.
Of course, that was all prior to 2003, when along came St. Anger and it’s accompanying documentary, Some Kind of Monster. Every Metallica fan now knows the story. Phil Towle was brought in to work with the band as a sort of therapist-slash-argument coach. Demons were excised. Schedules were enforced. Guitar solos were cut…and though Hammett didn’t necessarily agree with that last bit, he said what he wanted to say about it, and then went with the flow. Can you imagine any other lead guitarist of Hammett’s caliber in any other band accepting his bandmates telling him that there would be no guitar solos on their next rock record?
Hammett’s Zen-like approach to metal has made him one of the most admired guitarists in the world by fans and peers alike. But how does Kirk really feel about the other members of Metallica? He explained it to Matt Pinfield.
“Being in a band with these guys, it goes beyond just friendship. Part of the reason that we’re together is, I believe — and I might be full of sh**, but this is just what I believe — when we found each other, we recognized something in each other, something that we all kind of shared, a commonness about ourselves on a deeper level, an unconscious level, a subconscious level, deeper level, I think, that we recognized this. And the bond that we have that we’ve established very early on that has just grown over the years, it’s just so strong, it’s brotherly.”
Kirk went on to say that he couldn’t imagine living a life where he couldn’t play music with Hetfield and Ulrich. On the surface that might seem like a throwaway comment, but coming from Hammett, it comes off as genuine. Metallica has been together now for over three and a half decades. The three core members have known each other since they were teenagers. They lived through the tragic death of another of their best friends, Cliff Burton, in their early twenties. They’ve traveled the world over and have played concerts on all seven continents (including Antarctica!). When you’ve been through that much together, you can see how the band mates might be more like brothers than just coworkers.
The North American leg of Metallica’s Hardwired Worldwired tour kicks off in May.
[Featured Image by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images]