Carlos Ramirez of Ultimate-Guitar.com conducted an interview with METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett last month before the band's concert at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: You played in EXODUS before you joined METALLICA. Was there a big stylistic/technique shift for you when you first entered the picture? METALLICA were still playing more in the MOTÖRHEAD school of things and not as technical as you guys went on to be, but I wondered if there was some level of adjustment on your part.
Hammett: Oh yeah, for sure. I realized I had to step up my rhythm playing right away. Even then METALLICA was trying to get tighter and play more accurately. James [Hetfield] was already a monster rhythm player at that point. I had to work hard to keep up with him in that sense. It was the summer of 1983 that I recall James just getting so fucking good at the rhythm stuff. I got better around 1984 and started going in a modal direction. But yeah, James always had a real knack for the rhythmic kind of stuff.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Since the band broke in the mid-'80s, how much time do you find yourself playing on your own time when you're not on tour or in the studio?
Hammett: I'm not sure if a lot of people know but I took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani in the early '80s. That was really helpful. But most of the stuff I've picked up over the years has been by learning from listening to other players. In the '90s I did take lessons again. That time it was with a great jazz player from the Bay Area named Scott Foster. This guy is insanely good! He would sit there and transcribe John Coltrane, which is crazy.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: I'm sure between your family and all of the band commitments it has to be hard to find time to set aside for lessons.
Hammett: That's so true. If I could just find some time down the line I would love to take classical lessons but that won't be for awhile the way things are going. With little kids running around the house it seems like I won't be getting the chance any time soon.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Do your kids take lessons?
Hammett: No, way too young for now but I will try and get them into it down the line. My newest was just born over the summer. My other son is still too young but we'll see what happens.
Ultimate-Guitar.com: I know our time here is short so I wanted to get this one of the way. Are they're any younger players and/or bands that have caught your attention? A lot of people must assume since you guys are so big that you probably don't check out newer groups.
Hammett: Right. But yeah, I do actually look for stuff to listen to all the time. Let me think here…
Ultimate-Guitar.com: It doesn't have to necessarily have to be metal or anything.
Hammett: In terms of newer, younger bands I love TRIVIUM. They have great playing going on. LAMB OF GOD are really good too. We're on tour with them and they kick ass. Robb Flynn from MACHINE HEAD is great. I love the way he plays guitar and writes too. We've toured with them too so that was fun. A friend of mine recently played me a band from the Bay Area I hadn't heard of before that I love at the moment. Damn, I can't think of their name!
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Let's see here…
Hammett: PERISH or something like that?
Ultimate-Guitar.com: Oh! You mean ALL SHALL PERISH?
Hammett: ALL SHALL PERISH…yes! They blew me away dude! They have so much technique going on and it's so well done. These groups have so much ability these days. It's exciting to hear.
Read the entire interview from Ultimate-Guitar.com.