During a recent appearance on Gibson TV’s ‘Icons’ program, the lead guitarist of Metallica, Kirk Hammett, responded to some questions about Metallica’s second studio album ‘Ride the Lightning‘ and revealed that he was coping with depression during that time.
As you probably know, ‘Ride the Lightning’ is Metallica’s second album and was released on July 27, 1984, by Megaforce Records, an independent record label. The album was recorded at Copenhagen’s famous Sweet Silence studios with Flemming Rasmussen as their producer.
Metallica was not successful since day one. In fact, ‘Kill ‘Em All’ only put them on the map of thrash metal and while touring in promotion of their debut album, the band members would eat one meal a day and crash at fans‘ houses. Thus, the recording of their second album was not that glamorous either.
In a recent interview, Kirk Hammett revealed the details of the recording process of ‘Ride the Lightning’ and opened up about how it affected his psychology. Hammett said that as they had a limited budget, they could not afford to rent out a place and ended up staying on the upstairs floor of the studio where they stored all the tapes.
The bandmates would sleep on the floor in sleeping bags, except Lars Ulrich who was in his home country and always had a place to crash. The fact that the band was away from the United States for more than five months made them very homesick and the living conditions didn’t help.
Kirk Hammett talked about the lyrics of ‘Fade to Black‘ and how emotionally loaded they were as all band members were very homesick by that time and channeled their feelings of sadness to the writing, editing, and recording of that song.
Hammett also talked about how he struggled with depression and revealed that even though he had a lot of physical energy, this didn’t prevent him from feeling sad. However, he eventually channeled his feelings to his music and ‘put all those feelings into my guitar solos and that was therapy.’
Here’s what Kirk Hammett said during the interview:
“It was a very interesting album. We landed in Copenhagen, we were there to record the album, and we had a limited budget, and we had worked out only so much time. And when it looked like we needed to be there longer, we worked out a deal with the studio, but we didn’t have any place to live.
And so we actually ended up living upstairs in like the storage room where they kept all the tapes. So there would be a space on the floor, and literally three sleeping bags, and then shelves of master tapes. I say three sleeping bags because Lars [Ulrich, drums], him being from Copenhagen, always had a place to crash. But Cliff [Burton, bass], James [Hetfield, vocals/guitar], and I were sleeping on the floor.
But the thing with ‘Ride the Lightning’ is – we knew we had more time to explore certain guitar sounds and we knew that having the right drum sound was key to having a good-sounding album. I mean, all great sounding albums sound with great drum sounds. And we knew that; we knew Sweet Silence had a reputation for being a great-sounding studio.”
Hammett went on to say:
“Also, back then it was a lot cheaper to record in compared to American studios. And it’s Copenhagen, Lars’s home country, blah-blah-blah. We just thought it was a good thing to be away from the Bay Area but what we did not know is that we were gonna be away for so long. And we ended up being away for five or six months and we all got incredibly homesick.
I remember a lot of those feelings that are around the lyrics of ‘Fade to Black’ had a lot to do with just feeling homesick because we were all just pining for home. I remember being depressed, wanting to be home – when it came time to do my solos, and I remember just being like, ‘I have all this energy but I’m just bummed out at the same time.’
And so I just kind of put all those feelings into my guitar solos and that was therapy.”
Click here for the source and you can watch the full interview below.