St. Vincent Interviews Metallica’s Kirk Hammett – Rolling Stone 2019
St. Vincent (Annie Clark) interviewed Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett for a feature in Rolling Stone. An excerpt from the interview can be found below.
CLARK You know, there would be plenty of bands who would have packed it in or gone nostalgic. But you guys are so fucking vital, and you’re still pushing it forward every time. You’re not taking any shortcuts, ever.
HAMMETT No, no. We’re gluttons for punishment [laughs]. We’ll take the most difficult route every single time, because the hard road has all these hidden bumps that can create really good ripples. I have a bunch of questions for you. What guitar players do you listen to?
CLARK I mean, you always remember the first time you heard Jimi Hendrix.
HAMMETT Yes, always. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Purple Haze.” I actually got scared.
CLARK It’s a good sign when music scares you. As far as guitarists go, I’ve obviously studied you and people like [avant-garde guitar hero] Marc Ribot.
HAMMETT I love Marc Ribot. He told me that he’s a failed heavy-metal guitar player. I also love all the prog stuff: Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Steve Howe, Steve Hackett, and Martin Barre. Adam Jones from Tool hangs out a lot with Robert Fripp, and Fripp showed him this thing to do on guitar that’s a very tedious, slow thing, but it does wonders for my playing.
I have another question for you. Do you feel that your records are proper representations of your abilities? I always feel like I have so much more to say on the album, but I can’t say it.
CLARK Yeah, it always becomes a “kill your darlings” thing. Like, in order for this song to survive, a couple of people have to hop off the boat. You have to sacrifice a couple of ideas in order to make something cohesive. I have a hard time with that.
HAMMETT It’s crazy, because I’m so curious about music in general. I can play a lot of different stuff. I’ll play some jazz, bossa nova, blues, gypsy jazz, fucking Eastern European ballads. I play all that stuff. But no one knows I can play this stuff. It’s so crazy.
CLARK I feel like you bring it in.
HAMMETT I’m always trying to sneak in jazz voicings and chords, little techniques here and there in Metallica.
CLARK Do you ever get shot down?
HAMMETT All the time. “That sounds too bluesy.” And I’m like, “Fucking hell, it’s just a slide. All right, whatever, tone police.” But you need tone police. Tone is superimportant.
CLARK Metallica became a part of my DNA in the years when I started listening to music. It’s just imprinted in me in a certain way. I feel guilty saying music I listened to then means more than things I heard later, but it just does. That’s when you first discover that feeling, freedom, and rage.
HAMMETT It’s really amazing that the four of us found each other. We managed to have certain things in common. We had disenfranchised upbringings and a lot of anger that’s just deep-rooted. But [also] a real kind of determination to turn that into something musical, exciting, and fun. That’s what we all had in common. It was always just the four of us. And if everyone else wanted to join in on the party, fuck yeah.
You can read the entire interview @ this location.