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From the Archive: Kirk Hammett Discusses the Past, Present and Future of Metallica in 2002 Interview

From the Archive: Kirk Hammett Discusses the Past, Present and Future of Metallica in 2002 Interview

"For the Load album, I was experimenting so much with tone I had to keep journals on what equipment I was using. For 'Hero of the Day' I know I used a 1958 Les Paul Standard with a Matchless Chieftain, some Boogie amps and a Vox amp-again, they're all blended. I was listening to a lot of Bowie at the time, particularly the sounds on Low, and I was really interested in playing guitar parts to see if I could shape the character of the song by playing parts instead of solos.

"And to a certain degree that's what I was trying to do during 'Hero of the Day.' It's a guitar solo in the classic sense, but it's a part of the song as well. I was very into the idea of creating soundscapes and crafting textures. I was tired of playing ripping, shredding solos; I wasn't into proving myself like I was around, say, …And Justice for All. It's great to be able to have that in your back pocket and use it when necessary. But for the most part, taste, tone and atmosphere are my main concerns.

"I'll tell you a funny story, though. In '94, a guy came up to me and said, 'How come you stopped doing double stops? You used to play a lot of double stops, and then you stopped doing it. I miss it.' And when we were recording Load, all of a sudden I remembered him saying that. I thought, Yeah, you know, he's right! So in that song 'Better Than You,' which ended up on ReLoad, I just crammed both solos with all sorts of double stops. And that was totally for that guy. I can't remember who he was, where he lived or what he looked like, but his sentiment stuck with me."

ReLoad (1997)

"That track was actually recorded at the same time we were doing all the Load stuff. It was one of the first tracks [from that session] that I actually played a guitar solo on. That guitar solo was played through a couple of old Marshalls, some Vox amps and the Chieftain, and I used a 1963 sea foam green Strat. I can remember thinking, God, this guitar has such a killer sound to it! It wasn't like all my other guitars, which had active humbuckers and everything. It sounded fat, present and full, and I was blown away by how big it sounded, even though I was going through single-coil pickups, stuff that wasn't active. That was a real treat for me, because it really felt like I was going in a new direction, tone-wise and equipment-wise. And that all kind of blossomed throughout Load and ReLoad. Bob Rock definitely had a big role in that, because he's a total equipmenthead, and he really got me thinking about vintage gear."

S&M (1999)

"That song came together only about a week before we actually played with the symphony. And that week leading up to the actual dates was so hectic. We had to do so much footwork that I really didn't have as much time as I would have liked to spend on that solo. So I thought, Hell, I'll just go for it and improvise! And what you hear on that track is just me improvising and playing off the top of my head on my ESP 'Mummy' guitar. I mainly used my live rig, which consists of Boogies and Marshalls and Boogie cabinets. My rack-mounted wah is in there, and that's about it, other than maybe just a touch of delay.

"There's a modulation toward the end of the solo, and I kind of wanted to outline that modulation a little bit. That's why I shift keys for the four or eight bars at the end. The solo on 'No Leaf Clover' is actually comped from the best licks from both nights and made into one solo. In retrospect, I would have loved to have had more time to structure it and put it together. But we were on a deadline, blah blah blah, and we really didn't want to rerecord anything -- we wanted it to all be recorded with the symphony. So we just kind of went for it."


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