As metal fans know, the guitarist replaced Dave Mustaine in Metallica in 1983, shortly before the future Rock & Roll Hall of Famers recorded their debut album, Kill ‘Em All.
In a previously unpublished interview from 2014 that Metal Hammer just posted over the weekend, Hammett recalled the moment he got the call to join the band. At the time, he was a member of Exodus, who would go on to achieve their own success in the metal world, but nowhere near the multiplatinum, stadium-playing level of Metallica.
“It was April 1st, April Fool’s Day, and I was sitting on the toilet,” Hammett recalled of the phone call. “I got the call from [Metallica sound engineer] Mark Whittaker, 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.”
He continued, “I told the guys in Exodus and they were pissed. 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.”
As far as why Exodus struggled to reach the heights of their fellow thrash pioneers, Hammett said that “drug problems” and “record company problems” were to blame. However, he went on to say that Exodus are “an incredible band” and that Gary Holt is “an amazing guitar player.”
Metallica now sit on the golden “throne” of the metal world, having been dubbed the “biggest all-time touring band” by Pollstar, thanks to $1.4 billion in ticket sales over the years. The band is currently working on a follow-up to 2016’s Hardwired … To Self-Destruct, with the members sharing new music via Zoom and email while in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.