In a new interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett was asked about his decision to enlist Canadian producer Bob Rock, who has been responsible for some of the biggest rock and metal albums of the last 30 years, including all of METALLICA‘s studio output during the 1990s and early 2000s, to mix his debut solo EP, “Portals”.
“When it came time to get the stuff together, it was last summer,” Hammett, who lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, said. Most of the stuff was recorded. But I still needed to do a few guitar parts here and there to add to the songs. All of it needed to be mixed. The four tracks needed to be mixed and I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’ You know, I can’t really travel to the mainland and do all of this stuff, because I have commitments in Hawaii and COVID is happening. But when things started to open up a little bit more too as well, I thought, ‘Wait a second, Bob Rock‘s in Maui. I’m here in Oahu.’ That’s a short flight and I know that he would be the best person to do this because he loves guitar and this is all fuckin’ guitar-oriented stuff. I mean, it’s guitar-dominated. The guitar dominates everything. I thought, ‘How about I give Bob a call?’ I didn’t want to bother Greg Fidelman, because he had his hands full with all sorts of other METALLICA stuff. I didn’t really know who else to call. So you know, when I thought about Bob, I thought, ‘That’s great because Bob and I are friends.’ We have a great working relationship. We love the same stuff. We love the same guitar players, the same guitars, the same amps, the same types of music. We have a history and we’re buds.”
Kirk continued: “So when [Bob] came over to Honolulu, it was really cool to see him again and be working with him again. You know, when I see Bob, the start of those days were like this: we’d talk about guitars and music for fuckin’ two hours and then say, ‘Oh, shit! We’ve got to start working!’ Then we would work. I mean, we just have a mutual love for this kind of thing. I really didn’t have anyone else to call. Like I said, I would have loved to have had Greg do it, but he was up to his neck in other METALLICA commitments, so Bob was the next best guy. You know, he came through for me and really helped me out. I am really appreciative of that.”
Rock first teamed with METALLICA for the band’s self-titled 1991 album (a.k.a. “The Black Album”). The Elektra set debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 281 weeks. Rock helmed METALLICA‘s subsequent albums, through 2003’s “St. Anger”.
Rock, 67, told Reuters in 2006 that he felt “20 years younger” after his split with METALLICA, whose last studio effort, “Hardwired… To Self-Destruct”, was helmed by Greg Fidelman.
During the making of 2003’s “St. Anger”, a petition that some 1,500 fans signed subsequently was posted online calling for METALLICA to dump Rock, claiming he had too much influence on the band’s sound.
“The criticism was hurtful for my kids, who read it and don’t understand the circumstances,” Rock told Reuters. “Sometimes, even with a great coach, a team keeps losing. You have to get new blood in there.”
METALLICA co-manager Peter Mensch argued that Rock “nursed METALLICA out of almost complete collapse on that record. Bob is one of the five best producers on the planet. But it was time to shake things up.”
“Portals” will arrive on April 23 via Blackened Recordings across digital platforms, on CD, and as a Record Store Day-exclusive ocean blue vinyl EP (including a download card).
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