Metallica is currently on their “WorldWired” tour in support of their latest album, Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. Baby Huey and Chasta got the chance to sit down in an exclusive interview with guitarist Kirk Hammett before Metallica’s performance at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival on Saturday, August 12.
Chasta: Today is a big day for you. Your poster collection, you’ve got a big deal going on in Salem, Massachusetts:
Kirk Hammett: The show actually opens today, (August 12) in Salem, Massachusetts at the Peabody Essex Museum and it’s the first museum show of its kind, based on horror movie posters. It’s 150 of the best pieces from my collection and today is the opening day and I’m very, very excited. I’m going to be there next week for three days doing a Q&A, showing up with my guitar and playing some music. Only two nights ago I finished the musical accompaniment piece to it called “The Maiden and the Monster.” I gave it to them yesterday and they’re like, ‘Fantastic, it’ll work just fine.’ I’m like (sigh of relief).
C: You hit your deadline.
KH: I only worked on it everyday since April. I had some help with my wife. She actually helped me with parts of it. But yea, I’m really excited about it, I’m going to be there next week doing my thing with my movie posters. I’m really, really excited about it, very, very happy about it. They put a book out; so it’s the second book now that’s based on my collection. I’m pretty happy about that too.
Baby Huey: It’s very well documented your amazing collection of horror movies, all that stuff…What is your most prized possession out of all that stuff?
C: If your house was going to burn down, what would you grab?
KH: I don’t know, it kind of changes every single time. I don’t know if I would grab a movie poster, I don’t know if I’d grab a movie prop, I don’t know if I’d grab one of my guitars. I’d obviously grab family mementos and artifacts, all that sort of stuff, so we wont even get into that. If I had 5 seconds to decide, I’d probably grab that Mummy 3 sheet, which is what my guitar is based on. I love that image; I’m just transfixed with that image. I just love the size of it, it feels like it can just engulf me. I feel like I can just walk into that poster and just get lost forever.
C: So your love of horror films started when you were very young. I was scarred for life by clowns in IT at the same age…Do you like clowns?
KH: You know I kind of have a weird kind of clown thing too. You know its not as bad as other people. I know some people who just can’t even think about clowns who just turn around and start running the other way. You know…I see the creepiness that clowns may have but I just have so many positive memories of going to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when I was a kid and seeing all those clowns and laughing at them so much. I have a positive reinforcement about clowns.
BH: What is your all time favorite horror movie?
KH: I love the classics from the 30’s. I love the original Frankenstein, the original Dracula, the original Mummy. I love those so much, but then I love horror movies from all periods. I love a lot of relatively new horror films. I have so many favorites it’s hard for me to pinpoint one special one that I like.
BH: What are your thoughts on…Universal is recently trying to bring back the Dark Universe, they just had The Mummy this summer, they’re trying to do more of that. Are you excited for these potential reboots?
KH: I still have yet to see The Mummy, so I don’t really have an informed opinion on that yet. Anytime they pay attention to any of those characters, I think it’s great. I think it’s wonderful. Keep it going, keep the storylines going, because eventually the people who are interested will trace it back to those original films from the 30’s.
C: You told a story about high school being bullied by some dudes that were in a truck with some spider webs on the side, do you remember telling that story?
KH: They were just local neighborhood hoodlums who kind of like cruised around looking for trouble. They picked on anyone who were easy targets who looked different from them. We called them “gravy boys.” What they were…they were people with very low IQs. They had nothing better to do with their time except for bulling other people. They used to terrify us all the time, you know, ‘What the heck?” Then we go down the other side of town and then there were the Mexican gangs we had to constantly worry about as well. It was crazy. We would know the walk if one of those cholos was packing. They’d walk a certain and we’d just try not to like go anywhere near those guys. They’d just walk a certain way.
C: The ‘burbs get gnarly.
KH: This was like 30 years ago.
BH: Just touch on the tour real quick. How everything’s been going, it’s been badass I’m assuming with Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat, all those bands:
KH: It’s been more than badass, it’s been in-f—king-credible…constantly being blown away everywhere we go. It’s been a while since we’ve been in America doing a tour like this. We were a little bit apprehensive, ‘Are people going to show up with the same enthusiasm that they did last time.’ But they certainly have in droves and then more so. People are showing the love more than ever for Metallica and it’s great. Just as importantly we seem to be reaching a lot of new fans who have never seen us before and to us that’s fantastic.
C: Can you try to put into words what its like to walk out on that stage to that energy that hits you? I know you do yoga before you go out on stage; is that why, because you’re trying to get in a place mentally?
KH: Yoga puts me in the moment, helps me focus and keep my feet on the ground. But walking out onto that stage in front of all those people and feeling all their love and appreciation, because you do feel it in all their excitement and adrenaline. Have you ever just walked into a room that’s filled with friends and family and they’ve been expecting you and they’re like, ‘Alright they’re finally here, hey.’… It’s the same feeling that you get when you see someone and they’re genuinely happy to see you or glad to see you or seeing you finally after a long time. It’s not that much different it’s just amplified a lot more. And then we hit those first few chords and then we’re already into having a good time with everyone.
BH: Matt [Heafy] guitarist from Trivium: What’s his favorite thing to eat, absolute favorite dish on earth, one that tops anything he’s ever had? It can be over the top or something very simple:
KH: I grew up on 20th and South Van Ness (San Francisco). There was a store a block away that sold burritos for two quarters. This is like in 1968 or ‘69. Ever since I could remember, I’ve always loved Mexican food. I’ve been eating burritos for most of my life. I was thinking about just the concept of the burrito; it’s a perfect meal. It’s everything; It’s so portable. It’s so gratifying. The “food log” rules. We call it the “food log.”
C: What do you love about music?
KH: It makes me feel good. I know that when I play my guitar and I’m feeling good when I’m playing it and I look up and someone happens to be watching me, I can see that they’re feeling good too. So there you go. It all comes down to that. I started playing guitar because you know, ‘I have emotional problems.’ (laughs) It was one of the only things that I found that could calm me down when I was a kid. I was able to use it to ground myself and be more in the moment. And it was also because I have OCD, it kind of fit perfectly into that too. Just like obsessed with it, playing it all the time…It hasn’t changed. For me music basically just… it saved my life. If I didn’t have music, I would’ve just went a route…who knows. I was on a pretty bad path when I discovered music and music kept me from going farther down that path as a youth.
C: If you weren’t a rock god what do you think you’d be doing these days?
KH: I don’t know maybe cooking some food with Matt Heafy [Trivium guitarist] at some restaurant in South Beach going, ‘Hey man, you play guitar too? Let’s get together some time.’ ‘Hey, mind that beurre blanc sauce, ok, don’t let that burn.’
C: I was going to thank you…Whenever I bought that album (Hardwired…To Self-Destruct) and put it on my running playlist…you guys improved my running time by a minute and a half.
KH: How long does it take you to do a mile?
C: I’m like nine and a half, 10 minutes.
KH: That’s better than me, I’m like 10 and a half. Usually it takes me between 31 and 32 minutes to run three miles. But I’m not really trying, I’m just cruise all the way. I put on a podcast, I just space out and just zone on my breathing. But I guess if I really wanted to run faster I probably could.
C: You should listen to Hardwired…To Self-Destruct; it will get you there.
KH: No, no. You don’t understand I listen to it enough, with making it…I only had to make it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.