METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett recently spoke with Neil Shukla, Paul Luis and Mark Hebert of the Toronto musical instrument superstore Cosmo Music. The five-part "Rockstars In Cars" interview can be viewed below. A few excerpts follow.
On classical music:
Kirk: "I am consumed by classical music — totally consumed by a bunch of different classical composers. My favorite right now is this guy named Modest Mussorgsky. He did a symphony called 'Pictures At An Exhibition', which is an amazing piece — an amazing accomplishment of music. It's what I'm obsessed with right now. Vivaldi, Bach, Ablinoni, Scarlatti... I can just go on and on and on about classical music and how much it means to me, and how rich it is in terms of musical ideas and theory and formulation and execution and tonality. You have to have a certain sort of patience, and it's also, I think, very important to find the classical music that you like. There's all sorts of different sorts of classical music. Personally, I get piano fatigue if I've listened to acoustic piano for too long — I'm like, 'Ahh! Turn it off!' I cannot listen to piano concertos for too long. Give me a symphony with strings and a horn section and woodwinds, and I can listen to it forever."
On his live "doodles" with METALLICA bassist Robert Trujillo:
Kirk: "We never really know what the response is going to be. You have to understand, we're going into a country; we're picking some song that's seemingly random and abstract to us, and we're learning this song that we've never heard before from this artist that we've never heard before, and we're taking a chance and playing it in a stadium in front of 60,000 people, and we're hoping that we make the right choice. The last, I would say, three legs [of the tour], we've been hitting it out of the park, but before that, there were some growing pains. There have been a few times we've picked the wrong song and played it and people go, 'Huh?' We'll go into a place like Indianapolis, and we'll play a song by an obscure punk band called THE ZERO BOYS, because we think they're cool... We played the hell out of it, and it was really cool, but we looked out at the audience, and they were just like, 'Huh?' Rob and I always tell each other and people don't recognize it, it's not the end of the world as long as we play it well, and they're entertaining in the way we play it, so we have that to fall back on... We were in Nashville, and we played a Loretta Lynn song... The next day, we got a message from Loretta Lynn, who said she was actually at the show with her family and was so tickled when we broke into her song. She said she might think about covering one of our songs sometime, but in the meantime, we should do more of her songs."
On his recently launched side project with Trujillo, THE WEDDING BAND:
Kirk: "It's just really fun jamming with these guys. It's something different. For Rob and I, it's cool, because we get to indulge our love of funk and punk... I was listening to all sorts of crazy music in the '70s — a lot of funk, R&B — so I've always had a real appreciation of the music of that time. When I found out that Rob did, we started playing our favorite songs. Funk from the '70s is so unique, and it's almost a lost art because no one is writing songs like that anymore... We got together and started jamming out tunes, and it sounded amazingly good, and then we started to improvise, and it sounded amazingly good... It's primarily a way for Rob and I just to jam out. We love to jam; we love playing with people; we love to play funk. It's become a little bit of an outlet for us, but it's nothing really serious or anything like that. We're really open to anyone coming and playing with us. I even asked the other guys in [METALLICA] if they want to come by and jam. [We're] always open — this is not a closed-border sort of band situation. Anyone can come in and play, as long as they're good... It's so recreational, but musicians need recreational music as well. They need to play stuff that they don't really have to worry too much about, and that we don't have too much accountability over. It's just a light, cool, fun thing for us, and Rob and I need that, because a lot of times, we put so much into our performance. There's so much intensity, so much riding on having to execute this song and play the shit out of it. You've just got to put a lot of love and care into our band's music, and that's fine, and I love it – I'm super-passionate about it — but it's also fun to just go to Disneyland for a while and play some tunes that are just fun for you to play, inspired you, make you smile, make you sweat and make you go, 'Man, I needed that.' I think everyone needs something like that... It's just so fun. We're something that's not to be taken too seriously, because none of us want to take it that seriously."
On July 26, THE WEDDING BAND performed its first public concert, which took place in suburban Toronto. The group's lineup for the concert included Hammett, Trujillo, vocalist Whit Crane (UGLY KID JOE), guitarist Doc Coyle (BAD WOLVES) and drummer Joey Castillo (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE).
Former CELTIC FROST and current TRIPTYKON frontman Tom Gabriel Fischer (a.k.a. Tom G. Warrior) was not impressed with the live "doodle" of the group's "The Usurper" that Hammett and Trujillo performed during METALLICA's May 10 concert in Zurich, Switzerland. "They butchered it, and it was humiliating," Fischer told Rolling Stone. "Why don't they leave their millionaire fingers off it? They've long lost the ability to play true metal in my opinion. Maybe I should go onstage and do a really miserable version of [METALLICA's] 'Hit The Lights' with, like, 200 mistakes to set the balance."