Before heading out with Metallica on their Big Four overseas tour, Kirk Hammett made a pit stop at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club on Wednesday night to pay homage to his longtime guitar hero Jeff Beck, who was in turn paying homage to an idol of his own, the late guitar innovator Les Paul (read David Fricke’s full report).
“Jeff Beck is one of my all-time favorite guitar players,” Hammett told RS at the afterparty, as he waited to give Beck a handmade guitar strap as a gift. “You know you’re going to be surprised, somehow, somewhere along the line, and there were a lot of surprises tonight. You just never know where he’s going to fly in from. I flew in from Hawaii, but he flew in from some other universe!”
Hammett will rejoin Metallica on Sunday to fly to Madrid for a one-off show before embarking on a quick dash of European dates starting in Warsaw on June 16th with Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax. “I’m pretty excited,” Hammett says. “It’s going to be a class reunion for thrash metal.” The tour’s June 22nd show will be simulcast in movie theaters worldwide, but the four bands won’t be touring together in the states. Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine hinted to RS that Metallica are the stumbling block: “Let’s be honest about all this: The cards lay in one camp’s hands and the rest of us are just damn happy to be here.”
Hammett says his band simply needs a break. “We’re never, never home during the summers,” he explains. “It would be nice to be home at a Fourth of July picnic and see the fireworks, rather than see them shooting off over the venue.”
This won’t be a summer vacation for Hammett, though. He plans to work on a book during the band’s downtime time called Too Much Horror Business (after a Misfits song), a collection of his favorite non-musical obsessions. “Horror movie posters, toys, artwork, comic books, the whole thing,” he says. “It’s something I’ve been into ever since I can remember. I remember finding my first monster magazine in San Francisco when I was six years old.”
Since then, Hammett’s become a world-famous collector, sometimes auctioning off prize possessions like the only known lobby card for Lon Chaney’s 1927 London After Midnight as well as an ultra-rare Spanish-language lobby card for the 1931 Dracula and a Swedish poster for the 1933 King Kong.
“My favorite horror movie is probably either The Mummy or Bride of Frankenstein,” he says. “I’m an old school guy, you know, a big Boris Karloff fan. If you want to bring it up to present times, I really love The Evil Dead and Re-Animator. I’m still waiting to see The Human Centipede! I can’t wait! The funny thing is, [my wife and I] live in Hawaii now, and we see centipedes all the time.”
Hammett’s book, due out next year, will feature his own commentary among various “pop-ups and peepholes.” As he says, “It’s going to be quirky Kirk Hammett — not too serious, but not too goofy, either.”