Metallica's Kirk Hammett: 'Cliff Burton Was a Total Anomaly'

artist: Metallica date: 06/20/2014 category: music news
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Metallica's Kirk Hammett: 'Cliff Burton Was a Total Anomaly'
Marking the 30th anniversary of classic Metallica effort "Ride the Lightning," guitarist Kirk Hammett took a walk down the memory isle, remembering his state of mind way back in the day.

In the upcoming August 2014 edition of Guitar World magazine, Kirk kicked off the chat by explaining how he had recently played the record's title track to his kids, having little recollection of laying down certain instrumental passages.

"When I recorded that in 1984, I was 21 years old," he said. "That's crazy. In 1984, a guitar solo like that was something. If you put it into context of what was going on back then, it was very modern-sounding. Of course, if you put it into today's context, it sounds like classic rock.

"It's not like today's norm, with sweeping arpeggios and 32nd notes everywhere. I also have to say that when I listened to it this morning, I realized that the actual sound of the album is still good. After all these f--king years, it still holds up sonically," the axeman added.

As the interviewer brought up the quantum sonic leap Metallica had made between their first two albums, Hammett was asked about the impact of Joe Satriani's guitar lessons he took at the time.

"All the stuff I learned from Joe impacted my playing a lot on 'Ride the Lightning,'" he admitted. "He taught me stuff like figuring out what scale was most appropriate for what chord progressions. We were doing all sorts of crazy things, like modes, three-octave major and minor scales, three-octave modes, major, minor and diminished arpeggios, and tons of exercises.

"He taught me how to pick the notes I wanted for guitar solos as opposed to just going for a scale that covered it all. He taught me how to hone in on certain sounds and when to go major or minor. He also helped me map out that whole chromatic-arpeggio thing and taught me the importance of positioning and minimizing finger movement. That was a really important lesson," Kirk pointed out.

But it wasn't just Satriani that had a role in the band's more progressive direction, but one of the four guys themselves, the late great bassist Cliff Burton. Asked about Cliff's importance in Metallica's progression, Kirk commented:

"Cliff was a total anomaly. To this day, I'm still trying to figure out everything I experienced with him. He was a bass player and played like a bassist. But, f--king hell, a lot of guitar sounds came out of it. He wrote a lot of guitar-centric runs. He always carried around a small acoustic guitar that was down tuned.

"I remember one time I picked it up and was like, 'What is this thing even tuned to, like C?' He explained that he liked it like that because he could really bend the strings. He would always come up with harmonies on that acoustic guitar.

"I would be sitting there playing my guitar and he'd pick up his bass and immediately start playing a harmony part. And he would also sing harmonies. I remember the Eagles would come on the radio and he would sing all the harmony parts, never the root," the guitarist concluded.
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