“If it wasn’t for that early prog, heavy metal would sound different today”: Kirk Hammett on finding his love for prog rock in recent years

“At one point I was just like so into Yes, it was all I listened to for a couple weeks – it was driving everyone crazy around me.”

Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has recently started sinking his teeth into prog rock, and has recognised how the genre has had a huge impact on metal over the years.

The rocker confesses that he “never got around” to listening to it, but these days the genre – along with classical music – is a huge influence on his approach to playing guitar.

Prog rock has risen to the forefront of conversations again, with bands such as Polyphia and Animals As Leaders having a huge influence on the guitar sphere in recent years.

Speaking on an episode of the Kyle Meredith with podcast (via Metal Hammer), Hammett explains how he often pays tribute to other artists in his guitar work, and these days it often integrates prog.

“I’m super influenced by classical music and prog these days. I just discovered prog by the way, I just never got around to listening to it, and then a few years ago I was just like, ‘Hey, I need to start listening to this stuff’, because this stuff is really cool and important and instrumental in what, you know, heavy metal is today.”

He continues, “I think you can definitely draw a line there, especially with the early prog: I mean, if it wasn’t for that early prog, you know, heavy metal would sound different today… The prog influence was huge.”

Hammett goes on to explain how he had a “hunger” to take up classical instruments and use them in a “heavy format” after developing these recent influences. He later adds, “I’ve always been a Rush fan, but I never really listened to, you know, Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, King Crimson… all those kinds of affiliated bands.

“At one point I was just like so into Yes, it was all I listened to for like a couple weeks, it was like driving everyone crazy around me. But you know it’s just great stuff, really instrumental and important stuff.”

Listen to the interview below:

Metallica are currently amid their M72 world tour in support of their latest album, 72 Seasons. The tour sees the band host “no repeat” weekends, where they play two shows in the same city, each with a different set list.

Find out more via the band’s website.

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