METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett has slammed Donald Trump, saying that the president-elect does not possess "a general sense of what is right and what's wrong."
Asked by Billboard about Trump's repeated claims that climate change was a hoax devised by China, Hammett said: "Okay. Let's sit with that statement right there. What does that tell you about the man? What does that tell you? Any normal, educated person who has a pretty good grip on reality — evenly balanced, could even be a centrist sort of person, not left or not right, any person who I just described — upon hearing something like that would just think, 'What the fuckin' fairy tale did that come out of?'
"For me, a good leader is someone with integrity, honesty and altruism, and a general sense of what is right and what's wrong. We don't have that in our leadership right now, and that puts me in a state of awareness and attentiveness, and it puts me in a state of wait and see what will happen. But if anything happens that I'm not okay with, I'm going to be super vocal about it for the first time in my life."
Hammett said that his decision to speak out on political matters is a departure from METALLICA's long-standing policy of not getting involved in issues that could be considered divisive.
"The thing is, METALLICA appeals to such a wide range of people," Hammett explained. "We have people on the left, people on the right, in droves. Part of the reason why we don't consider ourselves a politically oriented band is because when you start talking about politics you draw a line in the sand, and all of a sudden [there's] division, and that's not what we want. We want everyone to be in this together, experiencing the music together. We see politics as a completely different thing. It's like music and NASCAR racing, that's how different politics are to METALLICA."
Acknowledging that music has the power to reach people and change their minds, especially young fans that hang on their favorite artists' every word, Hammett said: "That's why I've chosen my words carefully, that I — not METALLICA, but I — will take it upon myself to get involved, if there is something I see that is seriously wrong, and I really feel that it's my job to say something, and to call out people who need to be called out. I believe in fairness. I believe in equal ground for everyone. I believe in equal opportunity and I believe that everyone is equal. That guy doesn't even believe in that! He does not believe that everyone is equal."
METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich, who has made no secret of his liberal views, said in a recent interview with Vulture that he has never "willfully had a political conversation with" frontman James Hetfield, who has described himself as being somewhat conservative politically. Ulrich explained: "The thing you've got to understand is that METALLICA is made up of four people from four different places who took four very different paths to where we are now. The one thing that unites us is the love of the music that we're playing and that all four of us felt like outsiders trying to figure out who the hell we were. We didn't come together because we were questioning this in the culture or that about politics. We came together because we were all a little lost and trying to get a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. I'll sit and talk politics with you all night, but I don't necessarily feel the need to do it in an interview. METALLICA is a collective, but we've just never been the kind of band to sit down and say, 'Okay, what's our common view of the world?'"
Ulrich made headlines in October when he said that he would consider returning to his native Denmark if Donald Trump won the election.
Hetfield recently told BBC 6 Music that METALLICA stays away from topics like politics or religion in its music because "that just seems to polarize people even more. We all have our own beliefs, but at the end of the day, we're trying to connect with people and it seems like political views don't do that as much as music does."
The singer/guitarist continued: "There's a lot of polarization going on in the States, and I see it other places as well. But it just seems like you have to get more extreme to balance out the other extreme. We've got to find some balance in the middle here somewhere."