Metallica is eyeballing the start of its next album, finally, after a busy couple of weeks ahead — including guitarist Kirk Hammett’s inaugural FEAR FestEvil in San Francisco, a GRAMMYs performance with classical pianist Lang Lang and the DVD/Blu-ray release of “Metallica Through the Never.”
Hammett tells Billboard that the quartet will start working on the follow-up to 2008’s “Death Magnetic” “in a couple of weeks. When we start, that’s going to be our main priority, and we’re pretty excited about it because we’ve been saying we need to start working on this album, but we’ve been procrastinating greatly with it. We’ve pretty much come up with every sort of excuse we can not to start work on the album, but we’ve run out of excuses, so we pretty much have to start work on it now.”
Some of the foot-dragging, Hammett says, is the idea of facing a plethora of musical ideas the group has assembled. “We’re a band that never has a shortage of ideas,” he notes. “You hear about these bands that are 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. James (Hetfield) has, like, 800 ideas. I have 400. Those number alone are just crazy. That’s formidable.”
Hammett also had plenty of ideas for the FEAR FestEvil, too. The event takes place Feb. 7-8 in San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom, a 105-year-old former Masonic temple that’s reputed to be haunted. The two days will include exhibitions of memorabilia from Hammett’s extensive collection of horror memorabilia — chronicled in his 2012 book “Too Much Horror Business” — as well as panel discussions, autograph signings, a taxidermy class and numerous guest speakers, including musical pals and fellow enthusiasts such as Slash and Anthrax’s Scott Ian. There will also be performances by Carcass, Death Angel, Orchid and Death Division, and Hammett plans to guest with his pre-Metallica band Exodus on the opening night.
“It’s going to be pretty different form your standard sort of, like, comic convention,” says Hammett, who will be billed as his “nom de horror” Kirk Von Hammett for the weekend. “I want it to be an experience. I want it to be interactive. I want it to have ambience and atmosphere and be something you can actually feel with all five senses. I wanted it to be unique and thrilling, because I really love this stuff. I don’t want to come across as some sort of poseur or hipster or anything; I have a real passion for it and I want people who are like-minded to revel in a lot of the same stuff that I revel in and just see how cool it is.”
Hammett also hopes to spread more FEAR around the country next year, too. “All I can see is how cool it’s going to be in the next few weeks and how cooler it’s gonna be next year,” he says. “I would love to be able to take it down to L.A., maybe take it over to Texas, take it over to Chicago, take it to New York. There’s horror movie fans everywhere and there’s music fans everywhere who would be excited by this sort of thing, and I want to share this stuff with them. So why not do it next year, and why not take it to other places?” Full information can be found at www.fearfestevil.com.
While he’s gearing up for the FEAR FestEvil, Hammett is also preparing for Metallica’s Grammy appearance, during which the group will perform its 1988 single “One” with Lang Lang on Jan. 26 — two days before the “Through the Never” home video release. “That’s going to be really interesting,” Hammett says. “It’s going to be an arrangement that highlights some of Lang Lang’s playing, but we’re not lightening up the song just for him. We’re still hanging onto all the heavy parts. He’s just an amazing pianist; at one point he’s going to be, like, weaving in and out of my guitar solo and playing parts of my guitar solo with me. I’ve never, ever experienced that before with anyone we’ve ever played with, so I’m going to be pretty psyched to be playing with him, to say the least. It’s gonna be amazing.”