KIRK HAMMETT Explains Why METALLICA Takes So Long Between Studio Albums

METALLIC guitarist Kirk Hammettwhose recently released “Portals” EP marked his very first foray as a solo artist, was asked in a new interview with Goldmine magazine why he and his bandmates take so long between records. (In 40 years, METALLIC released 10 albums.) he replied, “Yeah, you know, it’s not getting any faster either. It’s like we have a way of working. We have a process that unfortunately takes a long time. It’s just the way we work, the way it is, the way it works as a band and I’ve come to accept that.

“You know, turn it off” ‘Portals’ is great for me because it kind of frees me from that schedule,” Kirkoz explained. “I can come up with, record and release a few songs, and I can do it on a completely different schedule than the band. And that’s great because it doesn’t seem to get in the way of the band’s schedule because, like I said , we move at our own pace.”

Hammett also discussed his songwriting approach in METALLICsaying, “If I go in and create METALLIC things, I give it my full creative energy. The way I see it, all the notes are already there. You just need to find them. I mean it. They’re already there. You just gotta fucking find them. And so there is, but also a dependence on spontaneity, on real creation in the moment. I think that’s where I’m most effective. It’s like every time I sit down to compose something that should be spontaneous, it ends up sounding composed. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I think catching yourself in a spontaneous moment is just a lot more exciting and a lot more honest. That might not make me sound like Eddie Van Halen, but that is irrelevant. I really feel like I’m playing for the song when I play that way.”

Two years ago, Hammett told Metal hammer magazine that “a lot of material” has been written for a possible 2016 follow-up “Hardwired…to Destroy Himself” album, which is marked with METALLIC‘s first complete collection of new music in eight years. “I know I have tons because I totally overcompensated,” he said. “You know, last time it was a real shock to my system to lose all those musical ideas. [Editor’s note: Kirk lost a phone with more than 300 pieces of music on it during the creative process for ‘Hardwired…’] So I was determined to try and make up for lost time. I also felt that, creatively speaking, I have so much more to offer this time.”

bassist Robert Trujillo added that the songwriting process for the next album could be a decidedly more collective effort compared to “Wired…”which was largely composed by guitarist/singer James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich.

“I’m not going to speak on behalf of the other guys, but for me it feels like this could be a very collaboration.” [writing process]” Robert said. “And for me personally, I think that’s great. I love that we’re in that headspace to work together more, and I think that’s really exciting for where we are now, the journey that we’re going to take, the fact that those doors are about to open.”

“It literally takes me a few months to go through everything” [my ideas],” added Kirkozwho is not credited to any of the songs on “Wired… to self-destruct”. “I have a wealth of material, and so, anytime we all decide, ‘Okay, let’s start setting up a schedule to write and record songs.’ I’m ready. I’ll be there from day one.”

Kirkoz has so many ideas,” continued Trujillo. “It’s funny because sometimes he’s literally in the kitchen and he’s cooking, and at the same time he’s playing you a riff, or you’re sitting on the toilet and he’s playing you some ideas. But then we started to understand that [the lockdown] would happen, it was like, ‘Hey, let’s get creative,’ you know? Let’s get on with it. Often, when there’s a band that’s been around as long as METALLIC you think one of the biggest problems is, “Man, I can’t think of a riff, I can’t think of good lyrics, it’s just harder to write songs,” but that just doesn’t seem to be the problem with us. We don’t take anything away from other bands, but sometimes our worst riff might just be another band’s A-list.”

“Hardwired…to Destroy Himself” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 291,000 copies in its first week of release.

Hetfield told Metal XS in 2016 that “Kirkoz‘s riffs weren’t there” when it came time to write the music for 2008’s follow-up “Death Magnetic” file. He seemed to be fired later Kirkoz‘s missing iPhone excuse, against the WRIF radio station: “That’s what he claims. I’m sure he did [lose the phone]but it doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t have done that [the music] also on his computer. But whatever… Yes, Kirkoz had a few riffs that he…I guess submitted – [‘submit’ is] not such a nice word to use when you’re in a band. But you know, we all submit our tapes, and we sit there and we listen to it and we pick the best stuff. There wasn’t much stuff from Kirkoz. Whether his phone was lost or whatever…”

In a separate interview with the British radio station Planet Rock, Hetfield said that Kirkoz “wasn’t in the studio” while METALLIC worked on “Hardwired…to Destroy Himself”. ‘He had to do with life’ James said. “He had a lot of things in life for himself that he’ll talk about if he wants to. But you know, [it was] Lars and I steer the ship as usual, go through the riffs, make the songs. And I got to do a lot of guitar stuff that I missed in the neighborhood ‘Death Magnetic’ and ‘St. Fury’ – some of the harmony guitar stuff, harmony vocals… You know, a bit more layering, like the ‘Black’ album.”

Photo credit: Ross Halfino

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