In Gibson TV's upcoming "Icons" interview, Kirk Hammett looks back on his career, including the time he was a member of EXODUS before joining METALLICA. In a preview clip below, which premiered on Rolling Stone, Hammett recalls seeing METALLICA play a gig in front of 15 people in San Francisco to headlining a packed house just a few months later.
Hammett said: "I remember we were just sitting around one day, and the singer of EXODUS, a guy named Paul Baloff, who was an absolute maniac, he walked into the rehearsal and said, 'METALLICA. So heavy. They're so heavy.' And I was, like, 'METALLICA.' And I thought, 'What a great name. It's like the best name in the world. METALLICA. That is the best name I think I've ever heard for a metal band. METALLICA.' He said, 'Yeah, they're playing The Stone tonight. We've gotta go check 'em out.' And so we went down there. And literally, there was, like, 15 people there. And I remember being at the front of the stage going, 'Wow, these guys are pretty goddamn good.' Literally, there was, like, 15 people at that show."
He continued: "A few months later, we got booked to play a 'Metal Monday', and it was EXODUS's first show at 'Metal Monday' at the Old Waldorf. We got booked on that show because we were friends with the headlining band, which was a band called LAAZ ROCKIT, and the band in the middle was METALLICA. And we were, like, 'Oh, this is cool. We're gonna be playing with METALLICA. That's great.' And I remember when we played that show, there was maybe about a hundred people in the club. And then METALLICA went on, and the place was packed. I don't know where the people came from, but all of a sudden, they just showed up. METALLICA played for, like, 45 minutes. Then, when they went off stage, the place emptied — literally emptied — and there was, like 30 people for LAAZ ROCKIT. The next night was a benefit for Metal Mania magazine, and we got asked to play with METALLICA again. And it was a better situation, because it was just us and METALLICA. I met those guys for the first time in the dressing of the Mabuhay Gardens, which wasn't much of a dressing room at all; it was like an indoor alley. That was the beginning of my relationship with them. And it's really funny, because years after that, people would ask me, 'When was the first time you ever talked to those guys?' And I would say, 'I first met 'em at the Mab.' And Lars [Ulrich; METALLICA drummer] was, like, 'Really? I don't remember that.' And James [Hetfield, METALLICA guitarist/vocalist] was, like, 'Huh? Really?' They don't even remember."
The full interview will be available on Gibson TV's YouTube page Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.
Hammett was a member of EXODUS's original lineup before replacing Dave Mustaine in METALLICA in 1983. In fact, Hammett was not only the person who came up with the EXODUS name, but also the first from the band to meet Baloff and brought him into the group. With Hammett on guitar, METALLICA went on to record its debut album, "Kill 'Em All", later in 1983.
In a 1994 interview with Metal Hammer, Hammett said his EXODUS bandmates were less than happy about his decision to leave the band.
"It was April 1st, April Fool's Day, and I was sitting on the toilet," recalled Hammett. "I got the call from [METALLICA sound engineer] Mark Whitaker, and after I hung up, I was like, 'I can't believe I just got that phone call. Was that an April Fool's Day prank?' A couple of days later, I got this tape from them, but I already had the demo and I already knew two thirds of the songs on there.
"I told the guys in EXODUS and they were pissed," continued Hammett. "They were pissed. I remember Paul Baloff was so pissed that he poured a beer over my head. He said, 'I can't believe you're doing this, Kirk', then poured his beer over my head. I just took it, 'Yeah, yeah, I know…'"