Metallica's Kirk Hammett Talks the Return of the Fear FestEvil

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Kirk Hammett performs with Exodus at Kirk Von Hammett's Fear FestEvil at Grand Regency Ballroom on February 8, 2014 in San Francisco, California. 

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett's inaugural Fear FestEvil last year was so good it was scary. So bringing it back for a second year, taking place this weekend at the RockBar Theatre in San Jose, Calif., was a bit of a no-brainer before Hammett returns to work on his band's next album.

"I just had so much fun doing it last year and it was such a pleasure and I got to meet a lot of really great people and experience a lot of great things," Hammett -- who hosts the Fear FestEvil as Kirk Von Hammett -- tells Billboard. "We had some really great music and a good time was had by all. We were crossing genres, blending the horror fan and the metal fan and hoping they'd all like it, and every aspect of it was great -- the musical aspect of it was great, the horror aspect of it was great, the collector aspect of it was great. If you were a music fan or a horror fan or just a collector of stuff, the idea was to appeal to you. But I went into it just having fun and hoping it would be a success, and it was."

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Hammett and his team are going for a bigger and better Fear FestEvil, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, with a sold-out Murder Mystery Dinner on Friday night and a horror-themed carnival taking place outside of the theater with games, a hearse car show and freak show attractions. Among those talking horror during the FestEvil will be fellow musicians Slash, Rob Zombie guitarist and film scorer John5, Slipknot/Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor and Anthrax's Charlie Benante, along with Bela Lugosi, Jr., Boris Karloff's daughter Sara and actor Ron Chaney, great-grandson of Lon Chaney and grandson of Lon Chaney, Jr. 

Musically, the FestEvil will host performances by Meshuggah, High On Fire, Orchid, Ghoul, Agnostic Front and Asada Messiah, with Hammett planning to sling his guitar a little, too. "It gives me a chance to jam with some of my favorite bands and play some of my favorite songs," he says. "The spontaneity aspect of it is something that I really look forward too. I'm the kind of musician who loves doing spontaneous stuff, so we want to keep the spontaneity factor high in the music portion."

That goes for his guests, too, Hammett notes. "Slash is coming just to make an appearance. He's not bringing his guitar, but I would love to jam with Slash. If he does want to play, he's more than welcome; there's more than enough guitars and amps for him, and we can play just about any song he wants to play, jam-wise, no problem."

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Hammett adds that his favorite part of the FestEvil is sharing his collection of horror memorabilia with attendees. This year he says he's added some rare and vintage horror toys, movie posters and the Nebularium, a mirror-like prop used in the Frankenstein films as well as Young Frankenstein and The Mask of Fu Manchu. "We don't want Fear FestEvil to be like a San Diego Comic Con or Monsterpalooza. Those two events are great, but we just want something different, a different approach because those two events kind of have a very standard approach that they take, and we want our event to be more interactive, more fun, somewhat enlightening and educational but have good music at the same time." 

Immediately after the festival Hammett will be back in Metallica's HQ studios to continue work on its next album, the long-awaited follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic. "We have a lot of good songs," Hammett reports. "The songs are ever-changing at this point. Nothing is etched in stone. We still have a lot of material have to sift through, still. We have well over a dozen songs and we still have well over two or three hundred riffs, too, so it's hard to say at what point we actually are in in the project. I don't think we hit the middle point yet. I would say we're at the 25 percent point, maybe 30 percent point. It's hard to say, but I mean we are working on it and there are songs and we're making plans to write more songs and record."

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Hammett acknowledges that the process of Metallica making an album remains some kind of monster. "Whenever we go into the studio it becomes such a huge sort of thing in our lives that it does take on monstrous proportions. It takes up a lot of space in our lives. Yes, you can look at it as something monstrous, for sure -- and we've made movies about it, so there you go, man."

Metallica -- which released one new song, "Lords of Summer" -- last year is also prepping to hit the road for a handful of shows, starting May 9 at the inaugural Rock in Rio USA festival in Las Vegas. The group will play in Europe as well as Lollapalooza on Aug. 1 in Chicago.