Kirk Hammett Talks ‘Too Much Horror Business’ at Book Signing in New York City
Kirk Hammett has been rocking out as the lead guitarist for Metallica for the last few decades. When he’s not recording platinum-selling albums, winning awards or touring the globe, though, he works on building his personal collection of horror movie memorabilia. After years and years of collecting these items, he has – for the first time – opened his vault up to the public in his brand new book, ‘Too Much Horror Business.’
Thursday, Oct. 11, marked the first stop on Hammett’s country-wide tour to promote the book. Spending the evening at Barnes & Noble in the neighborhood of TriBeCa in New York City, Hammett hung out with hundreds of fans who were there to learn all about his collection, and to try and snag an autograph from the legendary axeman. The evening consisted of a 20-minute dialogue between Hammett and Toby Stapleton, a long-time member of Metallica’s camp. The two discussed the book and even opened the conversation up to fans in the audience. Once the discussion wrapped up, Hammett sat behind a table and signed fans’ books and Metallica paraphernalia, staying until the last fan was taken care of.
Below, check out some of our favorite highlights from the book signing. ‘Too Much Horror Business’ is available for purchase wherever books are sold and is no doubt a must-have for not just horror movie fans, but Metallica fans as well.
‘Too Much Horror Business’ Book Tour – A Conversation with Kirk Hammett and Toby Stapleton – New York, NY – Oct. 11, 2012
Todd Stapleton: Why release this book now? You don’t put yourself out there that often.
Kirk Hammett: I just thought it was a good time for me to actually get my collection together and look at it and basically decide what I wanted to do with it. I’ve been living with this collection for a long, long time now and there have only been a few people who have seen it including family members and close friends. It started to get bigger and bigger and better and better, at least to me. I thought, now is the time for me to share it with the world. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. I hope you guys like the book as much as I do. I’ve been with this stuff for a long time and I’m done keeping it to myself. Like I said, I want to share it with everyone else who’s into this stuff and appreciates horror movies. This is my gift to all you guys who are into horror movies and are monster kids, just like myself. [Crowd cheers]
TS: There’s that pivotal point in your life, or that one instance, that obviously made you pick up a guitar. What happened here with all this stuff? What made this happen?
KH: I acquired a few pieces that I just thought, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I actually have this in my collection!” And then I acquired a few more pieces, some very rare toys, and then I acquired a few more pieces and my collection just went to the next level. I really felt that my collection was just too good for me to enjoy. I’ve been planning on doing a book for the last 10 years, but I’m such a procrastinator … Once I acquired these items, I felt that now is the time to make a book. Now it’s interesting enough for myself to make a book, and if it’s interesting enough to me then I’m sure it’s interesting to other people who are like-minded individuals.
TS: I think we proved that, you guys are into this stuff as well, right? [Crowd cheers] Was there a certain movie or a certain character that birthed this?
KH: I’ve been into horror movies ever since I was a wee little lad. I saw my first horror movie when I was five years old, ‘The Day of the Triffids.’ It was just something that never went away. I’ve always had a fascination with this stuff. Even when I went head first into music and learning how to play guitar and playing in bands, I always had that fascination bubbling in the back burners of my mind. I still actively watch horror movies all the time. Once I had an opportunity to start collecting stuff again, I just embraced it fully and have not stopped yet.
TS: Is there a “holy grail” in this book that is your favorite? Is there something in there that you feel like you have to share with everybody?
KH: There were two items that actually turned out to be a major catalyst in my decision to make the book. One of them is this outfit that Boris Karloff wore in that movie, ‘The Black Cat,’ from 1934. I was thumbing through an auction catalog one day and I saw it on the corner of the page and was so blown away that that piece survived and was up for sell. I jumped at the opportunity to get it. Not long after, I got the outfit that Bela Lugosi wore in that movie, ‘White Zombie,’ from 1932, and I thought, “Man, I have both these items and these are some serious collectibles.” They augmented my collection so much that I just thought now is the time. I’m aware of the fact that now collecting comic books, toys, whatnot, is very cool and it has sort of a hipster element to it. For me, though, it was never about being hip or being cool, it was always driven by having a real love and a real passion for this stuff. It was really important to me when I made this book that that came across. I wanted it to be very personable, I didn’t want it to have some scholarly tone or be a reference book. It really meant a lot to me that part of my personality came through in the book and through this stuff because this stuff just lives in me 24 hours a day.
TS: There isn’t an e-reader version for this book. It’s not because they wouldn’t make one, it’s because you didn’t want it.
KH: Right, there won’t be any e-books of my book, only because I feel that looking through this book is such an experience, you know? You really need to be able to look at the images on the page and turn the page. The way we designed the whole book was so that it would flow naturally from cover-to-cover. Books are great. [Crowd cheers] I’m a big book fan, I buy lots of books. But I still buy e-books, too. It was really important for me that the book be a tactile experience that you can feel with the five senses and see with your eyes rather than doing it through a screen. It was important to me to look at the book at the format that it’s in … The size of this book really gave the posters, and actually all the images, a lot of visual breathing space. I believe you can’t really get that when it’s on an e-book. It’s totally old school, completely old school.
TS: You can tell when looking at it that you and the people at Abrams Publishing didn’t cut corners. It’s not like you made a pamphlet … You gave it all you had.
KH: Oh yeah, I put my heart and soul into this. I thought I could knock it out in like three or four months, but I was wrong. It was like three or four years.
TS: He thinks that about everything, just wanted to let you know that. [Crowd laughs]
KH: [Laughs] I put as much effort and time into it as I would a Metallica album. I poured over every single letter, layout and image, just everything to make sure it was the best that it could possibly be. I’m really satisfied with the way it came out, and I should be satisfied because I worked on it every single day for the last six months! I will say, I made my deadline with 12 hours to spare. [Crowd cheers]
TS: I’m really partial to people in Metallica Fan Club t-shirts, so does anyone have a question for Mr. Hammett?
Fan: I was curious what drew you to the horror genre as you were a kid?
KH: I just gravitated to it naturally, you know? I’ve always had this feeling inside of me, this weird outside feeling, I’ve always felt like a bit of an outcast. Watching horror movies, you know, the monsters or the villains or the mad doctors, basically just the disenfranchised characters in all these movies, those were the characters I related to. Even when I watch Star Wars, I relate more to Darth Vader than I do with Luke Skywalker. It was that feeling of being an outsider that made me relate to the outsider-faction of these movies. When I watch horror movies or monster movies or whatever, it’s very comforting to me. I know that’s weird to say, but it just is.
Fan: Out of everything you have, as great as it all is, is there one thing that still alludes you and your collection?
KH: I’ve been looking for this one movie poster for a while. It’s from a movie called ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ from 1932 that starred Bela Lugosi. It’s a beautiful movie poster and there’s only one known to exist and it’s down in L.A. as part of a collection, and that collection isn’t going anywhere. So, you know, I’ve been putting my feelers out there for the last 10, 12, 15 years to find one, and I can’t find one anywhere. So if anyone here has one in their back pocket, let’s talk later!
Fan: Is there anything in your collection that inspired you to write something for Metallica?
KH: All this stuff is very inspiring to me. For years and years and years now, I’ve just sat in my movie poster room, a room that is full of movie posters and a couch. A lot of times I’ll sit there with a guitar and an amp and just riff out and look at this stuff. This stuff is very comforting to me and very inspiring. I guess you could say it’s like a muse to me. I spend a lot of time in there just riffing away and looking at these beautiful posters. It puts me in a place where I can just clear my mind.
Fan: I know you like the classics, but do you like to keep up with modern horror movies?
KH: Absolutely. A few movies that I’ve seen recently that I’ve really liked are ‘Trollhunter’ and another movie that came out last year called ‘Insidious.’ When I watched that, I had goosebumps the whole time. I was just on edge. These days, the horror movie genre is strong and there are a lot of great movies that are coming out. I love ‘Walking Dead,’ I love ‘True Blood.’ I think those are great TV shows. I’m very, very psyched on where the genre is going right now.