Kirk Hammett Explains How ‘Toxic Masculinity’ + ‘Macho Bulls–t’ Fueled Metallica
In a new interview, Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett explained how "toxic masculinity" and, in his own words, "weird masculine macho bullshit" has helped stoke Metallica's enduring heavy metal flame.
Speaking to The New Yorker, the longtime Metallica member expressed how those male behaviors often seen as detrimental to society seemingly helped glue Metallica together.
Is "toxic masculinity" why Hammett has stayed with Metallica's founding members, guitarist-vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, since 1983? That's probably a stretch, but the lead guitarist can still appreciate how some questionable machismo powered Metallica.
"Toxic masculinity has fueled this band," Hammett laid out in the piece that emerged on Monday (Nov. 28), the same day Metallica revealed their upcoming album, 72 Seasons, and shared its first single, "Lux Aeterna."
He illustrated, "I'm still sitting around saying, 'OK, I'm gonna write a really, really tough, kick-ass riff. Just look at my rhetoric there: tough, kick-ass riff. It's an aggression that everyone feels, but it was ratcheted up in us — this weird masculine macho bullshit thing."
Indeed, looking back on all the years that Metallica members have spent together, Hammett can pinpoint where that kind of thinking led to early spats in the group.
"We would get drunk and just start in," the guitarist recalled. "I remember once James got up and pushed Lars, and Lars literally flew across the room. We would see each other and start wrestling. We could be in a room of 20 people, and we'd fixate on each other. No one else mattered."
Perhaps that "toxic masculinity" in Metallica extended to the band's business dealings. Looking back on the act's early-2000s battle with Napster, Ulrich remembered Metallica's reactionary positioning at the onset of the peer-to-peer file-sharing internet services.
And though the drummer said he now takes "no solace" in how it all played out, he still described it as a "street fight."
"It was, 'You're fucking with us; we're gonna fuck with you.'" Ulrich said. "And then it just ran amok. In retrospect, could we have done a better job of seeing that coming? Probably."
Metallica's 72 Seasons arrives on April 14, 2023. The band will tour the world again around the same time. Get Metallica concert tickets here.
Watch Metallica's "Lux Æterna" music video below.