Interview: Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Talks Horror, Metal, and His Inaugural Fear FestEvil
On February 7 and February 8, Metallica guitarist and horror aficionado Kirk Hammett will throw Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEvil, a multifaceted horror and music festival that will take place at San Francisco’s 105-year-old Regency Ballroom. The inaugural event will feature highlights of Hammett’s world famous Crypt Collection (including some of the most valuable horror collectibles in the world) inside a former Masonic temple, an extensive array of panels, live music, vendors, and special guests. Attendees will also have the opportunity to wander through out the venue and experience various “haunting areas” for one-of-a-kind scares, and will even be able to take a taxidermy class on-site! Single day and full weekend tickets are available here.
In anticipation of the event, we recently chatted with Hammett–on the day after his birthday–about horror, metal, and the deep connection between the two.
REVOLVER Why did you want to put on Fear FestEviL?
Well, it basically is an extension of my Crypt that I had at the [Metallica-curated] Orion [Music + More] festival. I basically had so much fucking fun doing that and it was just an amazingly great time, so I asked myself, Why stop here? Why end here? I should just keep doing it. So that’s what this convention is–it’s an extension of my Crypt that I had at Orion festival. I’m just loving it. It basically was just so much fun for me to do at the Orion festival that I just didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to make it a whole lot more cool. Way cooler than I could take it because at Orion festival I was working under certain constraints. This is an opportunity for myself to just go all out and do what I want to do. Just go for it. And I’m loving it. The festival hasn’t even happened yet–we’re still getting everything together and planning. I’m just having so much fun doing that part of it. It’s a really great thing.
In what ways will it be cooler?
Well, I’m going to have more of my collection there. More of my personal toy collection and more of the poster collection there. A lot of the original art is going to be there. Also, I’m going to have a lot more of full-size figures—having that full-size Frankenstein, Dracula, and Werewolf. For me, that’s, like, the ultimate. We’re going to have a bunch of guests, panels, vendors, musical guests—we’re going all out. It’s going to be fantastic. We want to make it unique in that it’s not going to be your standard horror convention with all the same guests. We’re going to try to get different vendors from all different walks of life. We’re doing the whole music scene, too, which I just love. I love that we’re getting local bands to play [including Exodus, Death Angel, and Orchid]. Other than fucking Carcass, man–I can’t fucking believe that. I’m so psyched for that, man. It’s going to be great. We’re going to be inviting musicians who have a pretty big interest in the genre as well. Slash is coming down to be a part of it, which I’m really psyched about, as well. There has been so many cool things that have comes down the way the past couple months or so. I’m fucking geeking out all over it.
I know you’re a big Lovecraft fan and his writing obviously influenced Metallica.
Yeah, yeah. And H.P. Lovecraft, if he were alive, I’d have him at my convention in a heartbeat. [Laughs] We’re trying to get different authors or different people. We were talking to Clive Barker’s people, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll show up, but he has a bunch of original artwork we’re going to try to display. We were talking to Stephen King and he’s notoriously shy and that probably won’t happen. Like I said, we’re going down a lot of different avenues. Being a horror convention guy from way back, I just know that it’s gotten to a point where you go to one and you’ve gone to them all. We just want to mix it up, you know? And the music thing is a good excuse for us to keep the event going longer because a lot of conventions. They end at 6 or 7 o’clock. Then things end up at the hotel bar or whatever. With this convention, it’s going to go ’til all hours of the evening and it’s going to be great. It’s going to be super fun.
Having Carcass there is pretty awesome and I’m assuming you’re a pretty big fan. How did that come about and how did you pick them?
Uh, because they’re available and just put out a great fucking album. I saw pictures from their new video [which Hammett premiered on the Fear FestEvil site in December], and oh my God, it’s completely out of control. But they were available and I have some ties with their record label, Nuclear Blast. I did some wheeling and dealing and made it happen. For us to get Carcass, I’m just so psyched to even be able to make that happen and it brings the convention up another level. It’s so super cool.
Are there any guests that you’re having that you haven’t met before?
Yeah, there a quite a few people I haven’t met before who are going to be that are going to be guests, but I can’t really talk about that right now. [Laughs] It’s one of those “Are they going to show up or not show up?”—we’re waiting for it to be confirmed. I’m trying to get Bruce Campbell and I think I’m going to get him. I’ve never met him and always wanted to get him. I love that movie The Re-Animator and I wanted to get some people from Re-Animator to the convention. We’re trying to get Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. Hopefully, we can make that happen because we’re still in the negotiation phases. We’re also getting Greg Nicotero–he’s the executive producer for The Walking Dead. And I’ve actually known him forever—like 25 years or so.
How did you meet him?
We just started hanging out at a horror convention in 1987 or something. He plays guitar, too, and he would come out on the …And Justice for All tour. We’d play guitar and listen to Stevie Ray Vaughn and geek out. He worked on Day of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead—all those great ’80s Tom Savini movies. Then he went to a special effects house in L.A. He stayed there for a long time and is actually still there. He became the executive producer for The Walking Dead whenever that happened. He’s a super cool guy and a huge horror fan. We used to hag out back in the day and we’re obviously still hanging out. I’m really psyched to have him because I love The Walking Dead. One of the greatest TV shows ever made.
I see you have Tom Savini coming, too. What have your interactions with him been like?
He’s a really, really great guy. Totally on it as far as horror movies are concerned. He loves the old horror stuff from the ’30s and ’40s. He is a really great guy who has a real love for this stuff and a real super passion for it.
Is there anything you will be debuting or excited to show people for the first time there?
I’m trying to recreate a diorama for Bride of Frankenstein. It’s something I’ve never done before—to actually, like, recreate a scene. I actually have some of the lab parts from the movie. I’m really excited about that because I got that particular movie prop after my book [Too Much Horror Business] came out so it wasn’t in my book.
I think I read that was one of your favorite movies?
Yeah, it’s a great movie. It’s actually a comedy. When people talk about that film, it’s usually spoken about as a horror movie but it’s filmed as a comedy. There is a lot of comic relief in it.
I read you’re starting another book. How’s that coming along?
I haven’t started it yet. It’s my intention to do another book for sure. It’s going to be more about ’60s pop-culture toys and TV characters. It’s gong to be something that I’m probably going to tackle sometime after we finish an album. [Laughs] Gotta make that album because I don’t think I have it in me to work on an album and a book simultaneously. We have to make a Metallica album and once that’s made, I can steer my focus to doing another book.
What can you tell me about the album you are working on?
Absolutely nothing. We have a few things here and there that we jammed on. No songs yet. That’s pretty much the state of affairs right now.
Is anyone else in Metallica as big of a horror fan as you?
You know, Rob likes to take his kids to a lot of these conventions. Rob had a history with comic books when he was a kid. He’s actually a really, really great illustrator and artist. He really loves animation. He has a little bit of a yearning for this stuff. Cliff Burton definitely did. Cliff’s favorite movie of all time was Dawn of the Dead.
Did you guys watch that together a lot?
Yeah. We had it on the bus. In fact, that was… This is a weird thing to say, but that was one of the last things Cliff said [on the night of September 27, 1986, when he passed away in a bus accident]–there was a bunch of drunken fans were outside the bus and he said, “Look at ‘em–they look like zombies from Dawn of the Dead.” He was way into Lovecraft, as well.
Did he turn you on to any movies back in the day?
Nah, not really. I had been into this stuff ever since I was a kid, and so I was more surprised that he knew about this stuff than the other way around.
Maybe you turned him on to some things.
Maybe. He was pretty with it. I’ll never forget that it was the summer of ’83 and all four of us went to see Evil Dead at the drive-in in New Jersey. That was a special time at least for me because I had just joined the band and we had a big ol’ half-gallon jug of vodka. We were at the drive-in and watching Evil Dead for the first time. It was really cool for myself because these guys were into it. That was a real treat for me, knowing these guys are into this sort of stuff too or at least in passing.
I know Greg Nicotero worked on Evil Dead, too.
As a matter of fact, he did. He was the female demon in the basement—he played that. He was in that costume.
Having been to Orion and seeing all your stuff, where do you keep it all at home?
A lot of it is in storage. A lot of the stuff is in cabinets or hermetically sealed. It’s in a very safe place where hardly anyone could get to it.
I asked because you have kids and wondered if that freaked them out.
Yeah, but I mean they’ve been engrained with it. They are totally into it and more power to them as far as I’m concerned. If it doesn’t bother them, then you know they are my kids.
When you were putting together the Crypt or this, did you discover anything in your archives that you had forgotten that you had?
There were a few things I had forgotten I’d had. Stuff that I had not seen for a number of years. There were a few things where I went, Wow, I totally forgot I had this and how fucking cool is it?! There were a few circumstances like that, and then you know, for me, it was a great opportunity to just check it out again and go through all the real cool stuff. Just have fun with it again. It was a way for me to see my collection again in a different sort of perspective.
So what do you think the relationship between horror and metal is?
Ah man, there just made out of the same ingredients. It’s just the darker side of life. Heavy metal, you know, doesn’t work if you’re singing about flying elephants. You have to have a subject matter to fit the mood. I’ve said this before: A good horror movie is like a good song and a good song is like a good horror movie. That’s the way I look at it.