METALLICA's KIRK HAMMETT is almost nine years sober
In a new interview with the METALLICA fan-club magazine So What!, guitarist Kirk Hammett spoke about his enduring passion for playing music and performing for the band’s fans. He said: “I love what I do. I love what I fucking do, okay? There’s been times when the negative aspects have totally taken over me, and I’ve spent a lot of time highlighting those negative aspects, but don’t get me wrong. The positives still outweigh the negatives, and I love what I do. Basically, it’s getting up there, playing guitar for people, and showing them a good time. Because when I’m up there, I’m having a really good time. And ever since I was a kid, I have thought, ‘If I’m up there having a good time and people see me having a good time, they’re going to pick up on that good time and have a good time too. I learned that when I was 17 years old and first started playing shows in EXODUS. I believed it then, and I believe it now, and yes, I’m having a great time up there because I’m playing guitar. I’m playing good songs that are fun to play. We write songs that are fun to play because that’s what we want to do. We don’t want to write songs that are a bummer to play. Fuck that! I’d get bored. I’d probably fall asleep or walk off stage or just start soloing in an inappropriate manner — and I’m good at that.
“But we have killer songs,” he continued. “I’m playing with killer musicians. They’re my bros. We have an amazing fan base who understands us and then some. I still love it. And I love the fact that we can get into a big room — 50,000 people — and everyone, everyone, when we play a song, is in the same focus and the same awareness and the same presence of mind on the same thing. And we feel connected. To feel connected, all of us — 50,000 people — in a song… That feeling of community? That’s what you’re really feeling when you go to a rock show. It’s elation from celebrating the fact that we’re all together, seeing something that we all love, and experiencing something that we all want to do together.
“Huge, huge, powerful stuff, man,” Kirk added. “And to be in that situation — to be at the forefront of it, guiding it, supplying it, and steering it — is magic, man. It’s pure love. L-O-V-E. People laugh, but I challenge anyone who might think that’s corny: go to the core of it. Go to the core of what is really motivating you to be entertained.”
Hammett also discussed his personal growth in recent years, saying: “I’ve gotten better in just expressing myself, talking about my feelings, not being shy about my feelings… My biggest thing is withdrawal. I will just withdraw from everyone and everything. I have the capacity to do that. And it’s not disassociation. It’s really just wanting to withdraw from people because it’s too much. So, I’ve recognized that I have that, and I’ve also recognized that it’s just better for me to express what I really, truly feel all the time.
“I’m going on nine years sober pretty soon. I attribute so much of my own personal growth to getting sober. And I wish I would’ve gotten sober a long time ago, but it just wasn’t in the cards, you know? But since getting sober, everything is improved in my life, pretty much everything is improved. I have focus, and I put myself in situations now that I know are positive and win-win situations, where it contributes to everyone else’s well-being. And the best thing that I can do nowadays is to find ways just to contribute to other people’s well-being, whether it’s through art, music, just hanging out with people, doing cool creative stuff, connecting with people, being positive, and just working toward the well-being of everyone. That’s what I want to do these days.
“I’m not as chaotic as I used to be. And I know that I’m not as unpredictable as I used to be. When I was younger, I had this thing; I always had this feeling that I needed adventure. I was mischievous. So, I would get myself into trouble all the time, only because that was the energy that was in me. But I don’t have that anymore. I feel like I’m very well grounded. I also feel that I am my own person, and I will always be my own person. And everything that has anything to do with me begins with me and ends with me. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t have anything to do with anyone else. And having that realization? It’s changed me. It’s changed my approach to just about everything. It’s given me an awareness so that I’m less reactive and more responsive to almost every situation. Whereas back in the day, I was a reactionary, emotional animal who would just lash out all the time without even thinking because I was conditioned. That was the situation around me as I was growing up. Those are my ’72 seasons,’ you know? Being in a totally reactive mode all the time because I had to be that way because that’s what people need to be for survival. You know, during those 72 seasons, most of it was spent in survival mode for me. And you know, it gets tiring being in that mode. I’ve found a way to just write myself out of that narrative and be my own person. And I realize that’s all I can do, so that’s what I do now.”
METALLICA‘s eleventh studio album, “72 Seasons”, was released on Friday (April 14) via METALLICA‘s own Blackened Recordings. Produced by Greg Fidelman with guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, it is METALLICA‘s first full-length collection of new material since 2016’s “Hardwired…To Self-Destruct”.
Hammett released his first solo EP, “Portals”, in April 2022. The all-instrumental four-song effort was recorded in Los Angeles, Paris, and Oahu and was produced by Hammett, who drew inspiration for the songs from horror movies, classical music, and the work of Ennio Morricone, whose “The Ecstasy Of Gold” has been opening METALLICA live shows since 1983.