Kirk Hammett Talks Seeing Metallica Before He Joined the Band

Kirk Hammett looks back on his career — including the time he played in Exodus before joining Metallica — in Gibson TV’s upcoming Icons interview.

In a preview clip, Hammett recalls seeing interest in Metallica seem to blow up overnight in San Francisco, going from a gig with 15 people to a packed house in 1982 or 1983 as the thrashers’ legend spread. The full interview will be available on Gibson TV’s YouTube page Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET.

Hammett also discusses how Exodus frontman Paul Baloff recommended seeing the band live. Hammett said he remembers thinking, “Metallica, what a great name.” The two attended a sparsely attended gig at a venue called the Stone. A few months later, they opened for Metallica and another group called Laaz Rockit on a Monday night, and Metallica drew a huge crowd that left without seeing the headliner.

Hammett went on to describe his first meeting with Metallica at the Mabuhay Gardens venue — and how it didn’t leave much of an impression on the band members. “It’s really funny, because years after that, people would ask me, ‘When was the first time you ever talked to those guys?’” he said in the clip. “And I would say, ‘I first met ’em at the Mab.’ And Lars [Ulrich] was like, ‘Really? I don’t remember that.’ James [Hetfield] was like, ‘Huh? Really?’ They don’t even remember.”

Hammett left Exodus to join Metallica in April 1983, after the band ousted original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine acrimoniously. (Mustaine, in turn, founded Megadeth.) Hammett’s interview runs 80 minutes and covers his influences, philosophies, and memories, highlighted with personal photos and archival audio from concerts over the years.

Gibson TV has published in-depth Icons interviews over the past year with Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and Alice in Chains’ singer and guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Metallica producer Bob Rock, who worked with Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, and the Cult, was also a subject for the series.