METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett recently spoke to The Grand Rapids Press about the massive outpouring of opinion, either harsh criticism or praise, that followed the release of the group's latest studio effort, "St. Anger". "That has happened to us since our second album," Kirk said. "Every single album has its detractors, who say, 'I don't like the direction they're going in,' 'They'll never be as good as they were,' or whatever. It's all a part of the game. You can't please everyone all the time — it's that old cliche, but unfortunately, it's true. We realized a long time ago that we should (expletive) make the albums with songs we want to write and play and hear. I love the album. For me, it stops there.
"This album is extremely challenging," Kirk continued. "We confront issues that are challenging, the sound is challenging, the song arrangements are challenging. But by the same token, it's a real honest depiction of what we sound like in the studio before 15 months of production values make us sound like something (we aren't). The mood of the band back then and now is that we wanted to portray ourselves as accurately and honestly as possible, on all fronts. We wanted to move as a unit every step of the way, every four bars. It's very much a band collaboration."
Asked how new bassist Robert Trujillo has changed METALLICA, Hammett told The Grand Rapids Press, "He has definitely changed METALLICA for the better. On a personal level, he's an amazing guy who's incredibly grounded and very honest — and I respect that so much in a person. And his playing is as solid as his personality. He is just a rock. (The band) is more in balance now, personality-wise, and it wasn't always that way with our old bass player — there was always head-butting. He's up for challenges. His favorite quote is, 'Step up!' "
With regards to whether he still talks to Jason Newsted, Kirk said, "I gave him a phone call and left a message on his machine, and that's the last I heard. I don't know if he forgot to call me or didn't want to call me, but I left the ball in his court and didn't hear anything back, so I don't know. ... I keep up on what he's doing professionally. It's hard not to. I just hope that Jason is happy. He chose to leave the band without the input of the people he would directly affect: the band. He made the decision without us. I thought it was unfair for him to not give us a chance to work it out with him. It's a shame, but we had to move on. But we're really happy these days — with Rob, things are more balanced. For a band to be around 21 years and get better is an amazing thing."