Metallica’s Kirk Hammett on Pleading with Kurt Cobain to Tour with Guns N’ Roses: “He just wasn’t having it” – Nirvana – 2022 Interview
When Metallica headlined Glastonbury in 2014, you sold ‘Glastallica’ T-shirts featuring criticisms of the band from other artists. Can you name any of the naysayers you quote?
I cannot man! It’s a case of fried brain cells right now! I remember there was a controversy around the arctic bears or something, which is why we dressed as bears in our Glastonbury opening video.
WRONG. Among others, you quoted Arctic Monkey Alex Turner (“I’m not sure it adds up – can you have Metallica in the hippy nucleus?”), Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite (“Shite!”), and Jarvis Cocker (“A bit aggressive”).
Since the beginning of Metallica, there’s always been people who derided us and said, ‘Oh these guys are fucking horrible’, so we’re more likely to celebrate something like that rather than be offended by it. It’s always weird for us when we’re breaking new ground for us – like playing Glastonbury. It felt similar to back in 1995 when everyone said: ‘Metallica can’t play Lollapalooza’ and we did, and everyone loved it and it was a lot of hoo-ha over nothing.”
In 1992, Metallica embarked on a co-headline tour with Guns N’ Roses. But which band were asked to be an opening act and turned you down?
I had to make the phone call to Kurt [Cobain] to talk to him about the possibility of joining our tour and he just went on and on about how he just didn’t like what Guns N’ Roses stood for, and I said to him: ‘Just go out there and represent Nirvana – just play the show and then that’s it’. I pleaded with him, but he just wasn’t having it. So, there you have it. It would have been great if Nirvana was part of that tour – but you know [the actual opening act] Faith No More were great as well.
When we played Seattle on the ‘The Black Album’ tour, I remember calling Kurt to invite him to the show and he said to me: ‘Are you guys going to play ‘Whiplash? That’s my favorite Metallica song!’. When he came to the show, he was in the snakepit [an area onstage] with Courtney Love and every time he walked by, he tried to get my attention, but my head was somewhere else. He was great. I became friends with him right when the first Nirvana album [1989’s ‘Bleach’] came out before people were even calling it grunge, and it’s so sad when I think back to all the guy wanted to do was play guitar and write songs and sing and somehow that all got destroyed for him.
How’s progress on the next Metallica album going?
I’m not supposed to talk about the new album. Everyone warns me ‘Don’t talk about the new album!’, so you can ask me 20 questions and it’ll just be me politely finding different ways of me saying ‘I can’t talk about the new album!’