Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle recently spoke to METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett about his Sept. 15 appearance with string ensemble the FLUX QUARTET at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco as part of the Morrison Artists Series.
Hammett will join the FLUX QUARTET for "SAS", a semi-improvised work by FLUX's first violinist, Thomas Chiu. Also appearing with FLUX for the piece will be Saul Gropman, a classical guitarist.
"When I think of classical music, I immediately think of Bach or Beethoven," Hammett said. "I've had very little experience with contemporary classical music.
"But when I heard this piece, it was very interesting. It's atmospheric, almost like a movie soundtrack. And after looking at the score and hearing the piece, I thought, 'Why not?' It takes me far enough out of my safety zone to challenge me."
"The combination of METALLICA and FLUX might seem like an aesthetic stretch," said Chiu, "but the piece has that built-in flexibility, so that when a collaborator comes in, it just means a new interpretation of the piece.
"The important thing to know is that we're not doing a cover of a METALLICA song. We're inviting him into what we do, and to do something collaborative that allows him to express what he's about."
It was Gropman — who in addition to running the Morrison Series and teaching classical guitar at San Francisco State University is co-owner of Cafe La Haye in Sonoma — who brokered the deal. Hammett had become a regular patron at the restaurant, and the two had struck up a friendship; when Gropman needed a starry opening lineup for the anniversary season, he knew where to turn.
"Kirk is passionate about food, about music — about all kinds of music," he said. "He's the kind of person who can help bring in a whole new audience for chamber music."
METALLICA have been keeping a relatively low profile since completing their world tour in late 2004. The band is expected to begin working on a new album sometime before the end of this year.