Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett credits the band's personal growth for his debut solo release of Portals. While chatting with Kerrang, Hammett explained how the new EP came to be through his own sobriety and the band's maturity. He touched upon how former-bassist Jason Newsted's 2001 exit came about, in part, to his wanting to pursue a solo project away from the band.
Hammett compared the difference between Newsted wanting to stretch his wings and him doing so today: “It is 20 years later and Metallica have gotten even bigger since then. So trying to divert any kind of focus at this point, it would take an army to do that. And it's just good ol' me. And also we've all grown. We've all grown from our experiences and we've certainly grown from (Jason Newsted’s departure). It's a recognition that we're all musicians, we're all artists. Who's to say to someone else, 'Don't put your art out there, I don't want you to'? We've all grown up, basically.”
He went on to say, “So the question is, were we not grown up back then? Of course not. We'll be the first ones — or at least I will — to put my hands up and say I only feel like I've reached maturity in the last 10 f***ing years. Also I have to say I've been sober for seven-and-a-half years now and my mind is in a different place, I'm better focused. I got my brain back, I've gotten my memory back so nowadays I'm in a better place. I record music and my focus is that much better.”
Hammett spoke about being able to tap into a different mindset when writing and playing the material he creates apart from Metallica: “It was a very conscious effort to write things for Portals that did not sound like they could be on the next Metallica album. And that's very easy because I play all different kinds of music. I play jazz, bossa nova, rock, all sorts of stuff. It's very easy for me to know what a Metallica formula is because I helped f***ing formulate it. So it was very easy for me to not write stuff that sounded like Metallica and vice-versa — it's very easy for me to slip into Metallica mode and write heavy, aggressive music. I've been doing it for so long I can literally put myself in that mode in 10 seconds.”
During the pandemic, recording has proved to be a big hurdle for Metallica — but the band has been busy culling ideas for its next studio project. Kirk Hammett told us a while back that coming up with material is never a problem for Metallica: “We're a band that never has a shortage of ideas. Y'know, you hear about these bands that are like, oh, they're sitting in the studio and they don't have any songs, what are they gonna do? That's not Metallica. Metallica's problem is the total opposite: we have too many ideas, which ones are we gonna use. And so that's pretty much how it stands with us.”
Metallica performs tonight (April 27th) in Santiago, Chile at Club Hípico.