Here’s Why Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Embraces Creative Risks + Contentious Responses
Metallica have one of the most contentious discographies in all of metal, due mainly to some of their dicey stylistic choices. According to guitarist Kirk Hammett, though, those contentious decisions (and the less-than-enthusiastic fan feedback that's followed) are a natural part of Metallica’s identity.
During an extremely lengthy chat with renowned musician/teacher/YouTuber Rick Beato – posted on Aug. 17 – Hammett discussed multiple topics regarding his career. Understandably, they spoke about Metallica’s core formula and penchant for risk-taking, with Hammett reflecting:
It was never anything that we sat down and talked about or made, like, a bit list of rules, you know, or regulations or anything like that. It was mostly instinctual. Trusting our ears and trusting our hearts and recognizing what would work and what wouldn’t work. Most importantly, with an idea of trying different things. Metallica has always tried different things. We’ve always took a chance, even if some band members weren't fully on, you know? 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 band members.” It's always been worth it. It's always been worth it.
Even though sometimes we've taken chances and they’ve failed horribly from a commercial standpoint, I think creatively and artistically, I think they're huge successes. . . . I speak specifically about [2011’s] 'Lulu,' the album we did with Lou Reed, and also about [2003’s] '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, you know? 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. It forced me to listen even harder.
You can watch the full interview below.
Elsewhere, Hammett and Beato considered how 1988’s …And Justice For All would’ve turned out if late bassist Cliff Burton played on it.
Speaking of Burton, Loudwire included Metallica recoverying from his 1986 passing in our list of 10 bands who overcame huge tragedies. Also, drummer Lars Ulrich explained why Metallica’s using a donut-shaped stage for their “M72 World Tour’ and what makes a good opening song for concerts.
So, do you agree with Hammett? In general, how do you feel about artists who take a creative leap at the risk of upsetting fans and/or suffering commercially? Let us know!