METALLICA's KIRK HAMMETT: 'We Thrive Off Being Challenged'

February 21, 2018

Polar Music Prize recently conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett. You can now watch the chat below.

Asked about his previous comment that he plays "mostly rhythm" guitar during METALLICA's concerts, Hammett said: "Well, when I said that statement, what I mean is a lot of times, over the course of the song, I'm just playing rhythm parts — chords or riffs — to supplement what's going on under the vocals. And then, when it's time to get to the solo section or the lead section, that's my moment to express myself and let it fly.

"For me, the great thing to do is to just play spontaneously and not even think about it — just raw, unadultered emotion, unfiltered," he continued. "From my very core, from my heart, from my soul, filtered through my brain, through my heart, out through my fingertips onto the neck of the guitar, out through the pickups for everyone else to see or hear.

"For me, that's super important, because I come from a generation of musicians that valued spontaneity and valued improvisation and never playing the same song the same way twice."

Kirk also talked about METALLICA's knack for taking chances in an otherwise predictable genre. "We thrive on spontaneity and we thrive off being challenged," he said. "We thrive off doing things that people say, 'Oh, you can't do that.' And we're, like, 'Oh, yeah? We'll show you.' That's just how it's always been in the band, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we're kind of that way as people. We're very dogged, stubborn, we all have our visions, which — thank God — they're mutual. We're not a band to back down from most challenges. Like, if you said to Rob [bassist Robert Trujillo] and I, 'Okay, we want you guys to play a John Coltrane song,' Rob and I will sit down and learn the John Coltrane song and have it ready to go in a few days — no problem. I mean, we have that ability with Rob and I. The other guys, they play a lot by instinct, so they're, like, 'Yeah, you guys lay down the foundation and then we'll find a way to fit in.'

"For us, the sky's the limit, really," he added. "The only limits that we have on this band are the limits that we put on ourselves, and we try not to limit ourselves. But, as humans, naturally, you're gonna say, 'Oh, wait,' you're gonna take a step back from something, but then if you give it some thought, you're, like, 'Yeah, maybe. Maybe. It's worth a try.'"

As previously reported, METALLICA will receive the Polar Music Prize, a musical equivalent to the Nobel Prize, this spring. The award, which recognizes international excellence in music, will bestow the metal legends with a cash prize of one million Swedish kronor, roughly equivalent to $126,000. The band will donate the money to its own All Within My Hands organization, which aids communities in need with workforce education, food-bank donations and other local services.

METALLICA's February 1 show in Lisbon, Portugal kicked off the 2018 European leg of the group's "WorldWired" tour, which will run through May 11 in Helsinki, Finland.

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame band is touring in support of its tenth studio album, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct", which came out in November 2016.

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