10 Things You Might Not Know About Metallica’s Kirk Hammett
It’s been nearly 30 years since Kirk Hammett received that fateful call asking him to audition for the lead guitar role in Metallica. Since then, Hammett’s meteoric rise to stardom has seen fans unearth just about every detail behind his six-string prowess. Still, we managed to uncover a few facts that might be unknown to all but the most ardent followers. For starters, just so’s you know, he’s a huge fan of country great Hank Williams.
He owns the “severed head” prop used in the classic horror cult film Re-Animator.
Anyone who’s seen the cult classic Re-Animator will never forget the shenanigans committed by Dr. Carl Hill’s severed head. A horror film buff who counts Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi among his heroes, Hammett also owns a lobby card from London After Midnight, a long-lost 1927 Lon Chaney film. Hammett’s long-rumored book, Too Much Horror Business, promises to document his vast collection of horror memorabilia in photos.
The inspiration behind the “Enter Sandman” riff was … Soundgarden.
Hammett’s most famous riff might never have occurred had he not been a fan of Soundgarden. In a 2008 interview with Rolling Stone, he explained: “Soundgarden had just put out Louder Than Love. I was trying to capture their attitude toward big, heavy riffs. It was two o’clock in the morning. I put it on tape and didn’t think about it. When [drummer] Lars [Ulrich] heard the riff, he said, ‘That’s really great. But repeat the first part four times.’ It was that suggestion that made it even more hooky.”
He’s not your typical vegetarian.
Hammett is a lacto-ovo vegetarian, but not for the reasons you might expect. In an interview with KNAC.com, he explained: “I am a vegetarian but not because I love animals. I am one because I think eating animals is not good for your health. James [Hetfield’s] hunting doesn’t affect me at all, as I have a lot of taxidermy in my house.” Still, health implications notwithstanding, Hammett does enjoy the occasional cigar.
His all-time favorite band is … UFO.
Hammett once told writer David Fricke that “the second he heard” guitarist Michael Schenker on UFO’s “Mother, Mary,” his whole attitude toward his instrument changed. “Schenker wasn’t playing blues-based solos,” Hammett observed. “He was playing modes – scales that sounded almost classical – and rhythmically he was out the door. To this day, UFO are my favorite band in the whole world.”
He funded his burgeoning music career by flipping Whoppers.
Inspired by Schenker, Hammett ratcheted up his skills sharply after managing to obtain a 1974 Gibson Flying V. In order to afford a decent accompanying amp, however, he was forced to take a job at the local Burger King. He also worked for a time as a dishwasher.
He was the final student taught by Joe Satriani.
Every Metallica fan knows that Hammett was formally schooled by Joe Satriani. It’s lesser known, however, that Hammett was Satriani’s last student. “I was Kirk’s teacher for two years,” Satriani once told the Turkish magazine, Blue Jean. “When I was his teacher, Kirk was playing in Exodus, and then he joined Metallica. Those were really important lessons. But then my Surfing with the Alien album was released, and the album was very successful. Kirk Hammett was my last student.
He collects vintage toys.
Hammett owns an array of vintage toys from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, but you won’t find any Hot Wheels or G.I. Joes among his collection. Instead, his obsession with all-things-horror-related dictates most of his toy purchases. He also likes vintage Japanese playthings.
Solos don’t come easy for him.
Hammett once recorded 100 solos for a single song, later noting that the solo he settled upon was just 25 seconds long. “I’m never very confident,” he told Total Guitar in a 2008 interview. “If a solo comes really easily for me, I question it. I’m like, ‘That was too easy! That must mean that it’s not good.’ I want it to be perfect. That’s unrealistic, but I can’t get that out of my head.”
He envisions playing with Metallica when he’s 60 …
Hammett once told Krone.at that if The Rolling Stones still enjoy making music beyond age 60, then there’s no reason Metallica can’t as well. “If Keith Richards is sixty years old and still doing it, why can’t I just do it when I am sixty years old? It might seem kind of funny playing ‘Seek and Destroy’ when you’re sixty. Still, if people want to see [that], I’ll do it in a heartbeat!”
… But not when he’s 70.
Hammett says he’ll one day make a solo album, but hinted that that might not happen until he’s 70. “In my spare time I play a lot of jazz and blues,” he told Rolling Stone. “One of these days, I’ll do a solo album that is very rounded as far as styles of guitar. I was thinking once: What am I going to do when I’m 70 years old and I’m sitting on the porch with a guitar? Play ‘Seek And Destroy?’ I love riffing on UFO songs for half an hour. But then I’ll lean over the amp, switch to a clean channel, and play some bossa nova or Robert Johnson
Top 10 Bands Who Rocked the Silver Screen
Rock stars just love dabbling in the movies. In the past we’ve looked at rock stars in the movies, but what about bands? The band cameo is an oft-overlooked little Hollywood treat, especially if you’re not aware that it’s coming. Here are the 10 coolest – and often most unlikely – band cameos.
10. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – Cannibal Corpse
In perhaps one of the most extreme musical cameos ever, this controversial death metal band can be seen performing their track “Hammer Smashed Face” when Ace Ventura walks into a club. Ace ends up on stage with the band in inimitable Jim Carrey style. Legend has it that the band were drafted into the film at the personal invitation of Carrey himself, and that he is a big-time metal fan, although Alex Santana of the band Blood Money wrote on Blabbermouth.net in 2009 (when he was engaged to Carrey’s daughter, Jane), “For the record, Jim hates death metal… He’d never heard of Cannibal until doin’ that movie. Trust me, it’s the first thing I asked him when we met.”
9. Back to the Future Part III – ZZ Top
With one ear to the blues and the other to modern production methods, ZZ Top are the musical equivalent of the Back to the Futurefilms. Although the band contributed the song “Doubleback” to the closing credits of Back to the Future Part III (and is a fine example of Billy Gibbons’ trademark pinch harmonics), the film itself includes ZZ Top performing in the background at a town dance in the old west.
8. The Simpsons Movie – Green Day
Many bands have appeared as themselves on The Simpsons over the years: Metallica, U2, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Spinal Tap, NRBQ, “Weird” Al Yankovic, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith, Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, Peter Frampton, Sonic Youth, The Ramones, and the list goes on. But perhaps the most dramatic musical cameos in Simpsons history occurred in 2007’s Simpsons Movie, which saw Green Day rock out in animated form before meeting their tragic watery demise at the hands of characteristically rioting Springfielders.
7. Encino Man – Infectious Grooves
Suicidal Tendencies side project Infectious Grooves appeared in this 1990s Brendan Fraser/Paulie Shore comedy, performing “Feed the Monkey” in the climactic prom scene. In contrast to Suicidal’s punky, thrashy sound, Infectious Grooves were, as their name would lead you to believe, all about the groove, and much of that danceable mojo was supplied by one Robert Trujillo, future Metallica bass player.
6. Empire Records – GWAR
This classic 1995 film is a love letter to record stores. And in this era of downloading, it feels especially poignant. The filmmakers surely could have handpicked any band to appear in the film. So who did they choose? Theatrical metallers GWAR, complete with their trademark monster costumes. After ingesting some brownies he probably shouldn’t have, store employee Mark watches GWAR perform “Saddam a Go-Go” on TV and then, in his altered state, imagines himself joining the band, with predictably hilarious results.
5. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey – Primus
This 1991 Keanu Reeves/Alex Winter film features an acting cameo by Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin early on, but it’s Primus’ powerful performance of “Tommy the Cat” at a Battle of the Bands that solidifies the movie in the hallowed halls of great musical cameos. Les Claypool’s wildly innovative fretless 6-string bass style looked great on the silver screen, and the only thing that could top it was a Steve Vai-performed, harmonized intro to KISS’s “God Gave Rock ’N’ Roll To You II” (as mimed by Bill and Ted). By the way, Keanu Reeves recently confirmed that plans for a new Bill & Ted movie are advancing.
4. The Darwin Awards – Metallica
Lars Urlich has dabbled in a bit of a film career with cameos in Get Him to the Greek and the forthcoming Hemingway and Gellhorn with Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen, but Metallica as a whole have also made a surprise appearance in a film. The Darwin Awards is a hard film to define. Not quite drama, not quite black comedy, the movie is based on the famed award for “those who improve the species by accidentally removing themselves from it.” Metallica feature during a scene describing the misadventures of a pair of fans who met their demise at a Metallica concert in 1996. The Darwin Awards website conferred urban legend status upon the event in 1997, and Metallica conferred musical legend status upon the myth by participating in its immortalization in this film. Footnote: one of the doomed metalheads is played by 30 Rock’s Judah Friedlander.
3. Singles – Alice in Chains, Soundgarden
One of a few bona-fide grunge movies of the ’90s (Kevin Smith’s Clerks also qualifies), Singles is about the lives of a group of 20-somethings living in Seattle. The film features cameos by both Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, while Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament play members of fictional band Citizen Dick alongside actor Matt Dillon.
2. Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2 – Alice Cooper and Aerosmith
The two Wayne’s World movies launched the film career of Saturday Night Live alumnus Mike Myers, who would go on to megafame with Austin Powers and Shrek. The two films introduced many catchphrases to the rock lexicon (such as “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” and “No ‘Stairway?’ Denied!”), and it showed the world just how much Alice Cooper knew about Milwaukee. Cooper and band could also be seen performing the song “Feed My Frankenstein” with full stage production (in the first movie), while Aerosmith perform “Shut Up and Dance” in the sequel.
1. Blowup – The Yardbirds
This 1966 film about a photographer (David Hemmings) who finds himself embroiled in a murder mystery is an unmissable chronicle of ’60s London. It’s equally unmissable for guitar fans, who are treated to a performance of “Stroll On” by The Yardbirds. This particular lineup of the notorious guitar hero breeding ground featured both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, and the climax of the scene involves a guitar meeting its tragic demise at the hands of Beck. Interestingly, according to the book The Complete Rock Family Trees by Peter Frame, Yes guitarist Steve Howe’s band The In Crowd was initially to be featured in the scene. “We went on the set and started preparing for that guitar-smashing scene in the club,” Howe said. “They even went as far as making up a bunch of Gibson 175 replicas… and then we got dropped for The Yardbirds, who were a bigger name. That’s why you see Jeff Beck smashing my guitar rather than his!”