KIRK HAMMETT On METALLICA's Rise To Fame: 'We Were Extremely Motivated To Do The Best We Could'
November 4, 2023
A.D. Rowntree of the KSHE 95 radio station conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett prior to the band's November 3 concert at the Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Speaking about METALLICA's rise from the metal underground four decades ago to the heights of stadium mega-stardom, Kirk said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "When I look back at it, we were extremely motivated to do the best we could every single moment of the day, in terms of, as far as the music was concerned, whether we were writing music, playing music, recording music, rehearsing music, and we always had an eye toward getting the best riffs together and best little nuggets of things we can come up with and making sure it was ultimately best of the best. When we were putting music together, stuff that other bands would say, 'Oh, this is a great riff. We'll turn this into a song,' it wouldn't be good enough for us. I mean, it had to be the best riff. And also, we toured longer than we probably should have. We reinvested in the band to the point where we probably shouldn't have. We made a lot of personal sacrifices. I mean, we went so far and then more to make sure that we were serving the music and we were playing for the people. And our thing was, 'Maybe it will come back to us, all this hard work will come back to us.' And for years it didn't ever feel like that; it would feel like we were just gonna play 250 shows every year or whatever we were gonna do. But then it started coming back to us and we started seeing real success. And that's when I started thinking, 'Oh, maybe we will make a difference in the world of music and in culture and whatnot. Maybe we will.' It's hard to figure it out when you're first starting; it's hard to see that. You almost have to be delusional to think that way."
Last month, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich told the Los Angeles Times that he is still surprised that he and his bandmates are able to fill stadiums worldwide. "It's all mind boggling," he said. "A couple of us in the band just turned 60, and two of us are knocking on the door. As you get older, you open your eyes, you take it in, you're appreciative. But I'm kind of in disbelief that this is still connecting at the level that it's connecting."
Regarding what has kept him and METALLICA frontman James Hetfield together since 1981, Ulrich said: "We love each other, and we love being in METALLICA more than anything else. Other than my dad and a few family members in Denmark, James is the longest relationship I've ever had. So when I look over at him, I get very emotional about the fact that we're still out here playing and doing this with Kirk and Rob [Trujillo, bass]. We had two incredible shows at SoFi Stadium in L.A. [in August], which I think are the biggest shows we've ever played in L.A. and are probably only 15 miles from where we started down the road in Norwalk. It's pretty insane that this is still connecting to fans at this level — and post-pandemic and lockdown, and the uncertainty and devastation of that time."
In a separate interview with the Sunday Times, Lars said that he and his bandmates haven't lost their passion. Nor, he added, had success and wealth alienated him from his edgy, young rocker self. "I'd say the opposite," he said. "I feel like an old version of the awkward loner kid I always was. People say, 'Come on, look how successful you are.' But success doesn't change you. For better or worse, you carry formative years with you and I'm more aware of the darkness than before. When younger, I was in such a hurry — hellbent on the next stimulation and the next beverage. I never slowed down enough to understand what was going on around me. But, as you age, that becomes more obvious."
On the topic of METALLICA's longevity, Lars said: "If you look at your peers, so many fall away. Most bands are in their 20s. Some 30s. Fewer 40s. By the time that you get to your 50s, 60s or 70s it's only a handful, because people can't stand being in the same room together. But us? There is still gas in the tank."
METALLICA's "M72" tour, which launched in late April in Amsterdam, features a bold new in-the-round stage design that relocates the famed METALLICA Snake Pit to center stage.
METALLICA is visiting a total of 22 different cities around the world and playing two nights in each city.
Opening acts include FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, ICE NINE KILLS, MAMMOTH WVH, PANTERA, ARCHITECTS, GRETA VAN FLEET and VOLBEAT.
METALLICA promises fans who purchase a two-day ticket that they won't see the same song twice for a total of over 30 songs spanning the band's 40-plus-year career.
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