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Kirk Hammett Says A Lot Of His METALLICA Riffs Get Shot Down

"All right, whatever, tone police."


Metallica hasn't exactly made it a secret that they're run by guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich. Sure, guitarist Kirk Hammett is listed third for two of the band's three records this decade (thanks to a lost phone) as a songwriter, but the main two credited songwriters are both Hetfield and Ulrich. Dudes just have the final say in what goes and what doesn't go musically.

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In a conversation between St. Vincent mastermind Annie Clark and Hammett via Rolling Stone, Hammett said he likes playing "jazz, bossa nova, blues, gypsy jazz, fucking Eastern European ballads" but gets shot down when he tries to bring anything different into the band.

Hammett: “I have another question for you. Do you feel that your records are proper representations of your abilities? I always feel like I have so much more to say on the album, but I can’t say it.”

Clark: “Yeah, it always becomes a ‘kill your darlings’ thing. Like, in order for this song to survive, a couple of people have to hop off the boat. You have to sacrifice a couple of ideas in order to make something cohesive. I have a hard time with that.

Hammett: “It’s crazy, because I’m so curious about music in general. I can play a lot of different stuff. I’ll play some jazz, bossa nova, blues, gypsy jazz, fucking Eastern European ballads. I play all that stuff. But no one knows I can play this stuff. It’s so crazy.”

Clark: “I feel like you bring it in.”

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Hammett: “I’m always trying to sneak in jazz voicings and chords, little techniques here and there in Metallica.”

Clark: “Do you ever get shot down?”

Hammett: “All the time. ‘That sounds too bluesy.’ And I’m like, ‘Fucking hell, it’s just a slide. All right, whatever, tone police.’ But you need tone police. Tone is super-important.”

So I guess the next Metallica record (which is coming along in some capacity) isn't going to have any totally awesome Coltrane changes on it? Damn.

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In other news, Metallica will headline five major music festivals throughout 2020 where they'll play two sets each night. The dates are:

  • Epicenter (May 1-3) at its new location at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC [Tickets]
  • Welcome To Rockville (May 8-10) at its new location at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FL [Tickets]
  • Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival (May 15-17) at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, OH [Tickets]
  • Louder Than Life (September 18-20) at Highland Festival Grounds at KY Expo Center in Louisville, KY [Tickets]
  • Aftershock (October 9-11) at Discovery Park in Sacramento, CA [Tickets]
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