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Kirk Hammett – Metal + Horror Saved Me From My Bad Childhood

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On a new episode of the Backstaged: The Devil in Metal podcast, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett shares how heavy metal and horror movies helped him through the darkness of his childhood.

In a 2001 interview with Playboy, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield opened up about childhood trauma. “James comes from a broken home, and I come from a broken home, and when I joined the band, we kind of bonded over that,” Hammett said. “I was abused as a child. My dad drank a lot. He beat the shit out of me and my mom quite a bit. I got ahold of a guitar, and from the time I was 15, I rarely left my room. I remember having to pull my dad off my mom when he attacked her one time, during my 16th birthday—he turned on me and started slapping me around. Then my dad just left one day. My mom was struggling to support me and my sister. I’ve definitely channeled a lot of anger into the music.”

Along with heavy metal, Hammett found solace in horror movies growing up, which has since turned into an outright adulthood obsession. “I had a bad childhood. I experienced a lot of darkness early on in my life that I probably shouldn’t have been exposed to. Unfortunate things happened to me as a child. And so that real life darkness came to me way too early in my life,” Hammett says on Backstaged.

“Basically, guitar playing and music saved my life. And it was a type of therapy for me. It made me feel better when I knew that I wasn’t feeling great. And I was so young. I didn’t understand why I was feeling this way. And I didn’t know this was because of circumstances and situations. I didn’t put that together. I just knew that guitar playing helped me feel better and calmed me down as an adolescent, as a teenager, as an adult, up to like now. I mean, I have a lot of anxiety and I’m prone to depression like most people. My guitar helps me through all that.”

Hammett adds, “A good heavy metal song is like a good horror movie. It’s intense, it’s unpredictable. It has a lot of the same feelings of the darker things in life … Your brain just gets that feeling. Like myself, there’s a lot of people out there that when they hear that darkness, that gloom, it’s cathartic. It feels good, you know? It feels like you can get to the darker parts of your life and experience them without really experiencing them.”

The full episode of Backstaged also features interviews with Philip Anselmo, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and others, so give it a listen in the player below.

Hear Kirk Hammett on the Backstaged: The Devil in Metal Podcast

If you or someone you know is facing abuse, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. A disclaimer on the website notes that if you are concerned your Internet usage is being monitored, an alternative option is to call 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233).

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