“It was a huge risk – to this day I’m wondering if I pulled it off or not. But it was how I felt inside. I didn’t want picture-perfect solos”: Kirk Hammett reflects on his all-improv lead approach – and explains why he doesn’t sweat onstage mistakes

Kirk Hammett with his Epiphone Flying V
(Image credit: Ross Halfin)

Metallica get the same 365 days as the rest of us, but something happens to them on a trip around the sun that spins time all out of proportion. More happens than seems possible. 

When lead guitarist Kirk Hammett speaks to Total Guitar during a rare moment of respite from the band’s remorseless trek across the States, pillaging its largest stadia, he barely pauses for breath as he reels off the highlights from his year.

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.