Ulrich bored Hammett in Metallica’s Puppet sessions
Poker face: Kirk Hammett
Metallica’s Kirk Hammett remembers being bored during recording sessions for their classic album Master of Puppets – because it took Lars Ulrich so long to lay down his drum tracks.
The guitarist says he’d sometimes have to hang around for days, playing cards with late bassist Cliff Burton. But despite that, he has fond memories of making the 1986 work, recently voted the greatest heavy metal album of all time.
Hammett tells Rolling Stone: “That album is my favourite Metallica album. We’d been playing together as a band with that lineup for about three years.
“We were definitely peaking. Master of Puppets, in my opinion, was the sound of a band really gelling, really learning how to work well together.”
Yet the thrash giants didn’t realise what a monster they had on their hands – that third studio album appears in Rolling Stone’s top 500, Q’s top 50, with Hammett’s work ranked the 51st-best in history by Guitar World.
“At the time we were just making another album,” says the metal axeman, recently named second-best of all time. “We had no idea it would have such a range of influence that it went on to have.”
Hammett himself spent longer than ever before during recording. “It was the first time we could work on guitar sounds of a couple of days – really experiment with different sounds and overdubs.
“It was just a good time for me. I played a lot of poker with Cliff in the studio. We’d just play poker, wait for Lars to finish a track, which would sometimes be days. We’d be bored.”
Of Burton, who died in a tour bus crash later in 1986, Hammett recalls: “He was a pretty good poker player – but if he lost too much he’d get pissed and start swearing, and get up and walk away. He was a little bit of a sore loser when he wasn’t winning.”
Metallica are planning to start work on their next album in the near future. “We’re kind of preoccupied with the 3D movie we shot in Canada,” says the guitarist. “But once we’re done with that we’re going to start hunkering down and putting riffs together.”
Asked if Rick Rubin is still in the frame to produce, he says: “I really don’t have an answer – although his name certainly comes up.”