Metallica: 'Great Thing About Us Is That There's Never Any Shortage Of Ideas'

artist: metallica date: 09/24/2010 category: interviews
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Metallica: 'Great Thing About Us Is That There's Never Any Shortage Of Ideas'
On Monday September 20, Metallica released the Australia/New Zealand themed EP Six Feet Down Under. This release coincided with their massive tour down under, the first leg of which was undertaken in mid-September, with the 2nd leg to be undertaken between mid-October and late November of 2010. The EP celebrates the band's amazing history in that part of the world. In fact all eight songs were recorded live on their previous Australasian tours and span an incredible 15 year period. The track listing is as follows:
  • Eye Of The Beholder - Recorded live on May 4, 1989 at Festival Hall in Melbourne
  • And Justice For All - Recorded live on May 4, 1989 at Festival Hall in Melbourne
  • Through The Never - Recorded live on April 8, 1993 at the Entertainment Centre in Perth
  • The Unforgiven - Recorded live on April 4, 1993 at the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne
  • Low Man's Lyric (Acoustic) - Recorded live on April 11, 1998 at the Entertainment Centre in Perth
  • Devil's Dance - Recorded live on April 12, 1998 at the Entertainment Centre in Perth
  • Frantic - Recorded live on January 21, 2004 at the Entertainment Centre in Sydney
  • Fight Fire With Fire - Recorded live on January 19, 2004 at the Entertainment Centre in Brisbane Following the release of Six Feet Down Under the band will also issue the legendary concert of the Big Four, Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax on DVD. When the Big Four shared a stage together on June 22 of this year in Sofia, Bulgaria, the show was beamed live into over 550 theatres worldwide via satellite in a special HD cinematic event. The Big Four Live From Sofia includes full shows from all four bands on a two disc set as well as behind the scenes and interview footage. On the group's first Australian show on September 15th, as part of their current Australian tour, Joe Matera ventured backstage in Melbourne to interview Metallica's Kirk Hammett for Ultimate-Guitar. The conversation took place in Hammett's dressing room at Rod Laver Arena while the rest of the Metallica guys were busily undertaking their individual interviews in their respective dressing rooms as well as making preparations to take the stage in a couple hours time. In the following interview, Hammett discusses the group's newly released Australian EP, gives an insight into his soloing approach and discusses the likelihood of making a solo album. UG: You have just released the Australia & New Zealand themed EP Six Feet Down Under. Do you tend to record a lot of your live shows? Kirk Hammett: For the last ten years or so we have been recording all of our shows. But this EP is kind of comped together from a lot of different recordings. Some come from bootleg recordings that were traded on the circuits and some were recordings that are from a taping section where we'd invite people to come to the show and tape it, some of those tracks are culled from those particular recordings. And then some of it is also stuff that we had in our own recording archive. Have you started in any manner the songwriting process for the next Metallica studio album? No but we do have riffs here and there but there are no complete songs as yet. But we all have tons of music that is just lying around, in fact all of us do. That is the great thing about Metallica, there is never any shortage of ideas.

    "Ideally a solo should be like a good meal. Start off with a bang then have a good meaty middle section and then have a sweet finish."

    You just performed a series of Big Four shows [Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax], what was the experience like? The shows were really great and it was a vibe man. It was like the Eighties all over again which was very, very cool. We all kind of realized that we are all in this together and that we all had the same sort of objectives and goals. It's just that we had different ways of getting them. At the end of the day, it became more of a celebration of the fact that we are all still around and all standing and still functioning as bands, and that was a very cool thing. And it was a chance for us to kind of reflect and look back at all the times we had together and all the battles we had fought. It was good to know that all of us are still here and still doing it. When it comes soloing, what do you think are the important elements that each guitar player should consider when constructing a solo? Ideally a solo should be like a good meal. Start off with a bang then have a good meaty middle section and then have a sweet finish. For me when it comes to the solo part, the first couple of licks really need to set the tone of the solo. And it should really just jump out and grab you. So is there anything that you specifically pay attention to when coming up with your own solos? What I have always tried to do is to come up with catchy things you know, hooky parts in the guitar solo that will grab the listener's attention. I will try to put melodic parts into that. But you know, sometimes I just want to make a bunch of noise. I think as guitarists, deep down, we all want to do that as well. Yeah. But what I just described in regards to the solo is my general approach. But sometimes I just want to be atonal and discordant. I don't know but there is something about my playing nowadays. I think it's that I've gone back to playing really melodically. I think on the next Metallica album I am going to be playing with a lot more melody. More melody than I have been playing in the past ten years or so. When it comes to your ESP guitars, you tend to prefer neck through body models, why? I think having a neck through body guitar adds more mass and more sustain so that's why I choose those. Do you have any criteria when it comes to choosing the type of guitar you will play? For me, I have one easy criteria, when it comes to choosing guitars. Mainly it [the guitar] has to look good, it has to sound good and it has to play good. And that was my whole intention with ESP guitars. I told them if they could just make guitars that look good, sound good and play good, then I am happy. That is pretty basic. There are really some elaborate guitar shapes out there but I found that I am a real traditionalist at heart. I mean I love the Strat shape, I love the Les Paul shape and I love the Flying V shape. For me those are fantastic and very traditional. I think most rock and metal guitar players would agree with you on that matter. Yeah. I also like the Randy Rhoads Jackson shape too. In fact, I actually found Randy Rhoads Jackson #5. The guitar is like just five guitars away from Randy Rhoads himself. It is a very early Jackson and I am very happy about that. Where did you find that? Where I find all my guitars, on EBay! That's where I found the Randy Rhoads guitar. How do you think you have evolved as a player over the course of your career? That is a hard question to answer man because I am so close to my own playing. But I say that I intend to work on my jazz playing more now. You know, I think as a metal guitar player, I am decent. I am no Eddie Van Halen, but I am still learning, am still learning stuff day to day and still feel like I am growing. I also still think that my music writing is still getting better. I'm still on the up and up and I don't feel like I have reached a plateau. I still think there is a lot more for me to do and learn. And I am still very motivated to do that.

    "Big Four shows became more of a celebration of the fact that we are all still around and still functioning as bands."

    Do you have any ambitions to some day to venture out and do a solo album? Yeah eventually, but right now I have to say that Metallica is my home and I have no intentions of running away from that home. But I am going to put a book though. I am working on it and that in itself feels like I am making a solo album because it is so much God damn fuckin' work! It is all my self. I don't have a band I can rely on or seek support. So I think once I do this book thing, maybe I may start considering doing a solo album, but I don't know. Looking back on the St. Anger album and its lack of guitar solos, what do you think of that album today? I still it love man. I think Frantic', Dirty Window', the title track and All Within My Hands', those are just great fuckin' songs and some of my favorite. Frankly, I'm quite shocked that people have such an attitude and issues with it, because for me, it is just another Metallica album. Metallica performed with Lou Reed at the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary celebration. Any chance we could see that collaboration develop into a proper project? After we did that performance with Lou Reed, there was some talk of us doing something with him but that never really turned out into anything much.
    The tour dates for the band's 2nd leg of their Australian tour are as follows: 10/16 - Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD 10/18 - Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD 10/19 - Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane, QLD 10/22 - Burswood Dome, Perth, WA 10/23 - Burswood Dome, Perth, WA 11/15 - Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, SA 11/16 - Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide, SA 11/10 - Acer Arena, Sydney, NSW 11/11 - Acer Arena, Sydney, NSW 11/13 - Acer Arena, Sydney, NSW 11/18 - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC 11/20 - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC 11/21 - Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, VIC
    Interview by Joe Matera Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010
  • More metallica interviews:
    + Metallica: 'Who Would Think A Band Like Us Would Be Accepted Like That' Interviews 02/02/2009
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