August 21, 2019: Well I’m sorry, but this requires some setting up:
Twenty years ago, I tried and failed to interview Metallica’s lead guitarist, Kirk Hammett. I had begun to admire his band back in 1991, when I could find nothing not to like about “Enter Sandman,” which had taken over the world. I bought the album that begat the single. I bought a ticket to a Metallica concert that got canceled. I had an obstinately indie-rock and punk listening library, and the mild confusion that I felt about liking a metal band was instantly relieved by a remark from a guy I worked with: he said that Metallica deconstructs masculinity. Well then! I got the rest of the band’s catalog and wrote a short essay that I could never sell about why Metallica was a higher musical life-form. For one reason, I wrote, Metallica had never made a video with a sexualized woman in it. Later, at around the time I was trying to land an interview with Hammett, Metallica released its video for “Whiskey in the Jar.” I still don’t want to talk about it.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and I kept running into comments by Hammett that reaffirmed my initial suspicion that he is a singular force for good. He’s an advocate for science. He tweeted in praise of the Women’s March. He’s a voice in the fight against climate change. I had to try again for an interview.
I saw my opportunity when I learned that It’s Alive! Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Art from the Kirk Hammett Collection would be opening on July 13 at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum and running through January 5, 2020. Hammett was indeed doing press for the exhibition, and thanks to the museum’s divine Anne Vranic I got to speak with him by phone on July 24. The great Bright Lights Film Journal ran my piece today–see?