“I think I’m going to be really busy in the next four years,” Hammett tells Billboard. “I know I’m probably asking for some problems, but I have to live my life in the way that I know is right, and that’s to be open and honest and to call out any dishonesty or unfairness. Things are changing right now, and I can tell you it doesn’t look like they’re going to be changing for the better. So how can we protect what we already have while still safekeeping the future for our children? That seems like the big question right now.
“Every great republic experiences a point where atrophy sets in,” he adds. “The atrophy begins from the inside, and I’m wondering if we’ve enabled this atrophy now, with this current leader that we have.”
Hammett is particularly uneasy about two aspects of Trump’s impending presidency. He’s disappointed in selections for cabinet and administrative posts, particularly those coming from the business world. “Is that something the voters wanted to happen, especially after being told that Wall Street was going to get kicked out of Washington, D.C.?” Hammett says. “Now look at it; Wall Street is in the White House. that’s a complete turnaround from what was promised. That was a complete and total lie to bait and play people so that [Trump] could get the upper hand and take advantage.”
He’s also disheartened by the specter of potential Russian hacks into governmental emails to possibly impact the election results while Trump has made positive remarks about Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin and has concurrently put forward a secretary of state candidate — Rex Tillerson — with strong ties to Russia. “It feels like the wolves are being led into the hen house. There’s nothing really coming to the hens’ rescue right now,” Hammett says. “I’m really, seriously concerned about this whole title towards Russia, and I’m afraid we might become just like Russia and have another Putin, which would be an incredible low point for the United States.”
Hammett isn’t counting on his Twitter war alone to save the day, of course. In fact, the guitarist predicts the Fourth Estate will be the ultimate remedy. “I’m hoping that people will realize that the Internet is not the beginning and the end of all their information,” Hammett says. “I’m hoping that there will be a new movement where people realize that the only real sort of truth and integrity in journalism and news will be gotten through newspapers and magazines and not through the computer, and people will embrace this and there will be a real balance brought back to journalism. People are going to go back to printed paper, printed media, because it’s tried and true and tested and just. That’s what I think, and that’s what I hope.”
Metallica is planning its return to the musical “battlefront” in 2017, riding the momentum of the chart-topping Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, its first new studio album in eight years. The quartet wraps up its 2016 itinerary with special small-venue benefits Thursday in Los Angeles and Saturday in Oakland, then heads overseas in January for shows in Asia, Europe and South America. Hammett promises the band “will be playing everywhere all over the world, running into 2018 undoubtedly” and is particularly excited about its first full-scale North American trek since 2009.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve done a proper American tour,” Hammett says. “We’ve done European tours, Asian tours, South American tours — relatively recently — but we have not done a proper American tour as of late, so we’re very, very excited about it, and we’re very excited to be able to do it playing new songs. So, yeah, America is definitely slated in there as well as all the usual places, too.” A special stage has been designed for the tour, although Hammett is keeping mum on details. “It’s gonna be really cool, really fun and very Metallica,” he says.
Metallica will be between tour legs when the Grammy Awards are presented Feb. 12 in Los Angeles. The group’s “Hardwired” received a nomination for Best Rock Song — a surprise since it’s not included in the Best Metal Performance category. But the group that lost the inaugural metal Grammy to Jethro Tull takes it with a grain of salt. “Y’know, we’ve had such a crazy relationship with the Grammys, so when the Grammys do something like this we kind of like throw our arms in the air — ‘Whatever. Whatever!'” Hammett says with a laugh. “But it’s still an honor. It’s still great to be recognized by the academy, and it’s still fun to play the Grammys when we’re asked. I think it’s cool. I think it’s funny we’re in a different category, but we take it all in stride.”