Kirk Hammett Feels St. Anger and Lulu Were “Huge Successes” Creatively
Looking back on the last 40 years of Metallica can be a daunting task. So many things to consider, so much baggage added to everything they ever do, it’s just so hard to look back on the biggest metal band’s past without it warping around itself like a heavy metal black hole. Yet that’s exactly what guitarist Kirk Hammett and producer and YouTuber Rick Beato did in a newly released 103-minute interview (as transcribed by Blabbermouth).
Though a lot of the conversation stemmed on his playing and what it was like to be present during various stages of Metallica’s career, Hammett focused hard on Master of Puppets — you know, that album that has the song from Stranger Things. And as a complete piece of music, he thinks it’s the best the band could have done with the classic lineup of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, and himself.
“Master Of Puppets, for a number of reasons. I really felt that [album was] that lineup’s peak, and I mean that we were peaking with [late Metallica bassist] Cliff Burton… Arrangement-wise, songwriting-wise, sonically, playing-wise, we coalesced in a way that we had not coalesced at that point. And it just makes me wonder what …And Justice For All would’ve been like with Cliff. That’s a thought that I still contemplate. But Master Of Puppets, for me, it’s a very sentimental album. We knew we were on to something, and we knew it was provocative and we knew that it might not be accepted by anyone, but we were fully, a thousand percent committed to it — every single note. And we had to be, really — we had to be. And I think it shows. When I revisit it now, I get flooded by a bunch of memories.”
In terms of the band’s entire discography, Hammett said Master of Puppets was so important because it became a “blueprint record” for how the band sounded and wrote their music, even though the band never “sat down and talked about or made like a big list of rules or regulations or anything like that.”
“It was mostly instinctual — trusting our ears, trusting our hearts, and recognizing what would work and what wouldn’t work, but most importantly with an idea of trying different things. Metallica has always tried different things. We always took a chance, even if some band members weren’t fully on. There’s been times I haven’t been fully on, and I was just, like, ‘I am gonna take a chance, a leap of faith, lean on my other three bandmembers.’ It’s always been worth it. It’s always been worth it.
“Even though sometimes we’ve taken chances and they failed horribly from a commercial standpoint, I think creatively and artistically, I think they’re huge successes. And I speak specifically about Lulu, the album we did with Lou Reed, and also about St. Anger. Those are really divisive albums, and you have two camps — people who like it and people who don’t.
“I think stuff like that’s important to have in your catalog. ‘Cause you just don’t want a lot of the same thing. You want peaks and valleys; you want contrast. It’s what makes it interesting. And if you have a catalog that’s just perfect, people get bored of it. There’s a lot of the same thing. Sometimes people wanna get challenged by their favorite band. I love YES. The first three or four YES albums are brilliant. But then they took a freaking left turn into somewhere else. And I loved it, ’cause it was challenging. And it forced me to listen even harder.”
You can catch the full interview down below.