Metallica's Kirk Hammett says Lou Reed didn't like his signature wah sound, remains proud of ill-fated collab
Metallica and the late rock icon Lou Reed famously worked together on 'Lulu' in 2011, an album that was widely panned by fans and critics
Metallica is widely known as one of the best thrash metal and hard rock bands on the planet and has barely put a foot wrong in an illustrious career that has spanned four decades. On Friday, August 28, the band will be releasing their historic 'S&M2' live album and concert film from San Francisco's Chase Center, which documents their 2019 sequel to their groundbreaking 'S&M' concert with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in 1999.
And on Saturday, August 29, the band will be broadcasting a special Metallica drive-in concert called 'Encore Drive-In Nights: Metallica On Screens', which will screen at hundreds of locations across the United States and Canada. You can click here for more details on the highly-anticipated show.
Despite all of Metallica's superlative albums, concert films and achievements, it's not like they haven't made a few mistakes along the way as they continued to push the envelope of their evolving sound. The entire Napster fiasco aside, there have been a couple of notable exceptions to the rule that Metallica would always please their international fanbase, no matter what they churned out. We're not even talking about the slight dip in quality during the late '90s. While the relatively softer sound of 'Load' and 'Reload' might have had their share of critics, those albums still contained a sizeable number of great songs. It was the album that came after their 'Garage Inc' covers compilation, namely 'St Anger' (2003) that really threw fans into a tailspin, and it received a considerable amount of backlash. Although Metallica disappointed listeners with the sound of their 'St Anger' album, they thankfully listened to their fans' pleas and promptly rebounded by returning to a more old-school sound on 'Death Magnetic' in 2008.
However, the band then threw fans a complete curveball when they collaborated with the late rock icon Lou Reed on the 2011 album 'Lulu'. It would prove to be Reed's last studio recording project, since he died two years later in 2013. Reed, of course, was one of the greatest rock and roll storytellers of all time, whether during his Velvet Underground days or his incredible solo career. So it completely perplexed fans when Metallica came out with this artsy concept album that included infamous viral lyrics like "I am the view, I am the table! I am all this!" Pitchfork famously gave the album a one-star review, and another music critic noted, "The effect is that of Lou Reed ranting over some Metallica demos that were never intended for human consumption."
However, Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist of Metallica, noted that he was still proud of the album in a recent interview. Hammet stated, "I have always been a big supporter of that album, even when all my friends are shaking their heads and looking at me going, 'Bro, what were you thinking?' It was a real accomplishment as far as I was concerned. We were there to help Lou Reed fulfill his vision and I think we did that 100 percent. This was not a Metallica album and it was not a Lou Reed album. It was Lou Reed and Metallica together, doing something completely different." But Hammett also admitted, "It’s not for everyone. But 'Junior Dad', I think, is one of the best things we’ve ever been associated with, in terms of real art and literature and music coming together. That, to me, is a real accomplishment, just as much as 'Ride the Lightning' is."
Hammett, who is famous for his incendiary wah-drenched guitar solos, also admitted that Reed didn't really like his signature sound that much. Talking about Reed's guitar playing, Kirk noted, "He’s a really, really good rhythm guitar player. He had a good, solid rhythm pulse to his playing. He was really not into lead guitar playing, and he was really, really not into wah-wah. In fact, one time during a rehearsal, I set the wah pedal and he just walked up to the microphone and said, 'No... No guitar solos. No wah-wah'. And I was blown away." However, Hammett took it in a good spirit, and explained, "He had his musical preferences. He had his musical boundaries. And he was not shy in letting us know what those preferences and boundaries were."
Hammett also declared, "We’re pretty restless musically. We’re pretty restless creatively. And as individuals, I think we get bored easily. I know that I am creatively hungry. I know that I share that with my own band members. If it sounds interesting to us, we’ll say yes. We’ve said yes and then dealt with the outcome later. Usually, the outcome is our fans asking, 'What the f**k are you guys doing?' And we’ll say, 'We don’t know, but we like what we’re doing and we’re going in this direction because it’s somewhere we’ve never been before.' At the end of the day, we want Metallica to be something that is not monochromatic. We don’t want it to be just black and white. We want a lot of colors in it."