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Kirk Hammett Says His Metallica Riff Ideas are Shot Down by James and Lars “All the Time”

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It’s no secret that Kirk Hammett plays third fiddle in Metallica when it comes to creative matters, his kid-like enthusiasm to be part of the Big Boys Club starkly broadcast to the whole world in the band’s 2004 documentary, Some Kind of Monster. The guitarist also made quite a fuss about how he lost a cell phone with hundreds of riff ideas before the band made Hardwired… To Self-Destruct resulting in his lack of contributions to that record, although he’s vowed to be more vocal next time around… and to back everything up, naturally.

In a new feature for Rolling Stone, a two-way interview with avowed metalhead and all-around rad musician St. Vincent (Annie Clark), Hammett once again voiced those frustrations, and his words call to mind the infamous Some Kind of Monster scene in which he emotionally pleads the case — rightly so, IMO — that the band’s decision to scrap guitar solos on St. Anger would end up dating the record:

The chat between Hammett and Clark went like this:

Hammett: “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 super-important.”

If ever there were a perfect distillation of Hammett’s role in Metallica, that’s it right there. Mwah — perfect! Who knew St. Vincent would end up being the one to troll Kirk’s deepest, darkest emotional depths?

Metallica are scheduled to headline five major American festivals in 2020 and have a tour of South America planned for the spring. Dates and tickets right here.

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