During a recent interview on Gibson TV’s ‘Icons’ program, the lead guitarist of Metallica, Kirk Hammett, talked about Metallica’s third album, ‘Master of Puppets,’ and discussed how it helped them adopt a more progressive style while making their next albums.
As you probably know, ‘Master of Puppets‘ which was Metallica’s third album, was released in 1986 and increased the band’s success. After releasing the album, Metallica started a five-month tour alongside Ozzy Osbourne which became a great way to promote their album. ‘Master of Puppets’ ranked Number 29 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved widespread acclaim from critics.
Although Metallica is now considered to be one of the most famous and influential thrash metal bands of all time, that was not the case. In fact, during the interview, Kirk Hammett had said that while recording their second album at Copenhagen’s famous Sweet Silence studio, where they also recorded ‘Master of Puppets,’ the band members were so broke that they were sleeping on the floor at the room where the studio stored all the tapes.
The reason why Metallica struggled so much was because their music was unconventional and so different from what people were used to listening to. However, in his recent interview, Kirk Hammett revealed that ‘Master of Puppets’ helped them become even more progressive because they had improved themselves on musical proficiency, which was considered as an important factor determining a band’s success in the then music culture.
Hammett added that the riffs of their second album were also partially prepared while touring with Ozzy Osbourne and experimenting with how much more progressive their music can be. He recalled that their music aired on MTV which was a great break for them because their music was very unconventional but still so great that it would get played on mainstream radios and music channels.
Here’s what Kirk Hammett said in the interview:
“In the late ’80s, the music culture kind of steered itself towards musical proficiency, and how proficient you were with your instrument, and how virtuosic you can be with your technique. There was a lot of emphasis on that kind of thing, and there were a lot of instrumental albums being put out by a lot of guitar players that were super-successful.
The showy bit of being in a band was kind of augmented by things like MTV and just being able to play your instrument. So I think that had a bit of an influence on us in terms of wanting to show people what we could do and how progressive we can be.
Because after our album ‘Master of Puppets,’ we thought, ‘Wow, this is as technical as it gets.’ And at that point in our musicality, it was about as technical as we could get, but we wanted to show people that we can even go further. And so, conceptually, that was what we were thinking in the songwriting.
And the riffs, after touring on the Ozzy tour and then playing all those headline shows, we had started taking advantage of the fact that when you’re on tour, the level of your playing ability is really high – playing at 100%, and all of a sudden, all these riffs are coming out.
And we’re experiencing that pretty much for the first time, writing riffs on tour because it’s just what happens after a while. And so, a lot of the riffs that ended up on ‘…And Justice for All’ were written on ‘Master of Puppets,’ and the technicality of what we were doing on ‘Master of Puppets’, wanting to take that further, influenced how those riffs were written.”
He went on to say:
“So when it came to a time to get all the music together for ‘…And Justice for All’, we had a bevy of rifts that were just that much more thought-out and developed, and more progressive, because we had the ability to be more progressive, so we just took that and ran with it.
We knew because we had a relationship with MTV when they were planning on playing the video. They said, ‘Yeah, we‘ll play it twice an hour, so six o’clock we’re gonna play it twice an hour, eight o’clock we’re gonna play twice, blah, blah, blah.’ So we actually knew in advance what was going to come on.
And I remember watching it, and then afterward the VJ said, ‘Oh, man, that was depressing… OK, now on to better things.’ And instantly I thought, ‘We have something.’ If that was the reaction of the VJ, and there are no videos like that on MTV at that point that was like the ‘One‘ video with dialogue.
I thought, ‘We’re on to something. We are on to something here.’ I always knew the song was great but you can think a song is great but the audience will for some reason or another think otherwise. But I just knew from the reaction that VJ that we had something that was actually hitting people on an emotional level.”
Click here for the source and you can watch the full interview below.