Kirk Hammett Credits Sobriety for Getting ‘My Brain Back’ + ‘Higher Output’
Metallica's Kirk Hammett has often been prolific with the amount of material that he turns around. Remember when he lost a phone with 250 song ideas? But he credits his sobriety in recent years for providing him greater focus and allowing him the time to be even more involved in his own musical pursuits.
During a chat with Kerrang!, Hammett credits his sobriety with the different headspace he's now able to use to approach music. "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.”
Within the chat, he later circled back to his sobriety and how it impacted his routine where music is concerned as well. "Going back to when I got sober, I had so much more time," he recalled. "I was spending almost every night in a nightclub or bar and then I'd spend almost every morning recovering from that. Day in, day out, regardless of whether I was on tour or not. And now that's been removed from my life I have all this extra time, so of course I'm going to play my guitar more. It's what I love to do and as a consequence of that there's just a higher output."
He continues, "My rate of production is higher and it's a better model for me to work from. It's weird, I'm 59 years old and I don't think I've even peaked creatively or musically. I certainly don't feel 59, I still go out and surf three or four times a week, run, ride my bike and play my guitar. I still feel as energetic as I've ever been and I attribute that to giving up drinking. And this is all the result of that.”
The Metallica guitarist recently released his solo EP, Portals, to coincide with Record Store Day. He explained to Loudwire exactly why he's waited so long to release solo music, admitting that the band as a whole is more open to the idea than they were in their younger years. "We're a lot more mature, more grown-up, wiser," stated the guitarist, later adding, "You know, at this point, we're freaking one of the biggest bands in the world. You need something the fucking size of a Mack truck to fucking try and screw up our career!"
He then alluded to the friction caused when former band member Jason Newsted showed interest in outside work, explaining, "Back then, with Jason, the excuse was that we didn't want it to dilute the effect of Metallica or whatever. Bro, at this point, nothing can dilute what we have. Nothing can. It would have to be so big, you know? I mean, nothing but our mortality. And so we all now realize that, and see each other as just four guys who are artists, musicians that want to express themselves. And why shouldn't we, you know?"
While the EP is out now, Hammett also revealed to Kerrang! that he has "every intention" to keep on working on music on his own. "Now that it has happened, I've gotten a taste of this and this sort of autonomy, I'm thinking, ‘Why not?’ I have the full band's blessing on this, particularly James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] and so it's okay," says the guitarist. "Now I have something else cool to do. [Conductor] Edwin [Outwater] and I have every intention to keep on collaborating as well, because the results have been so great.”