Kirk Hammett: “It drives me nuts having to play that f**king guitar solo in Master of Puppets every time – I’m freaking bored of it”

Kirk Hammett of Metallica performs onstage as Metallica Presents: The Helping Hands Concert (Paramount+) at Microsoft Theater on December 16, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for P+ and MTV)

If you’ve ever wondered how it feels to play the same solos live for 40 years, Kirk Hammett can tell you: it gets old.

“What I’m going to say people are probably gonna hate, but it drives me nuts having to play that fucking guitar solo in Master of Puppets every time,” says Hammett in an exclusive new interview with Total Guitar.

“People love that guitar solo and they come to see that. That’s fine. For that part of our career, all those solos are locked in. I don’t view them as solos anymore; they’re parts. I’m freaking bored of it, but it’s exciting for people to hear.”

Hammett pauses before clarifying his remarks: “You know, I’m not bored of the solo; I just get bored of playing the same thing all the time.”

“I’m inviting all sorts of criticism and opinions but I don’t fucking care,” Kirk states defiantly. “It’s like the solo on Fade to Black. I play the first eight bars and then I go on a tangent for like 20, 24 bars and then come back in the last four bars and play parts that everyone knows. That’s one of my most favourite parts of playing that song live because I don’t know what the fuck I’m gonna play.”

For new release 72 Seasons, Kirk says he took a seat-of-the-pants approach to every lead break – and he enjoyed it so much, he’s going to be doing the same thing live.

“With this album I went in intentionally to improvise 20, 30 solos, give them all to Lars and Greg [Fidelman, producer], and go, ‘You guys edit them!’” Kirk explains.

“I know I’m gonna play something completely different live. That’s my thing these days and if people don’t like it, that’s just tough. But I can offer something a lot different than what people hear on the album, and I can offer something different every time you see Metallica.

It’s horrible to die on stage in front of 50,000 people, but it only lasts an instant and then it’s gone

“When you buy a ticket to a Metallica show you’re gonna hear different versions of the songs. You’re not gonna hear carbon copy versions of the album.” 

Hammett admits, however, that improvising his live solos comes with risks. “Usually, I surprise myself; sometimes I die a fucking death,” he says.

“It’s horrible to die on stage in front of 50,000 people, but it only lasts an instant and then it’s gone. Then I can go on to other pastures and make up for what I didn’t do.”

Read the full interview with Hammett in Total Guitar issue 370, on sale now via Magazines Direct.

In other recent Kirk Hammett news, the Greeny owner has bought one of the rarest Les Pauls ever made – a Factory Black ’59 Les Paul Standard.

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Jenna Scaramanga

Jenna writes for Total Guitar and Guitar World, and is the former classic rock columnist for Guitar Techniques. She studied with Guthrie Govan at BIMM, and has taught guitar for 15 years. She's toured in 10 countries and played on a Top 10 album (in Sweden).