Metallica’s James Hetfield Contradicts Kirk Hammett’s Statement On Lost Cell Phone Riffs


In an interview with France’s Metal XS program, Metallica singer James Hetfield seems to be calling into question the original statement guitarist Kirk Hammett gave in his explanation as to why he provided solos only to the band’s latest #1 album Hardwired…To Self Destruct. He seems to have also indicated that Hammett’s riffs weren’t good enough.

“No, no. Kirk was not part of the writing. Kirk obviously came in and did the solos. But Lars and I… You know, Lars and I always have done this, but with contributions from other people on their riffs and things. Kirk’s riffs weren’t there. I know he talks about him losing his phone and things like that with the riffs, but… No, he wasn’t involved in the process. And Robert [Trujillo, bass] was there. The intro to ‘ManUNkind’ is Robert; that is him, and it’s beautiful. But it is Lars and I doing what we always do — put the songs together.”

Hetfield has now blurred Hammett’s original statement which led people to assume that they needed to start with all new songs and riffs once they entered the recording studio. On paper, his words don’t seem to put down Hammett’s riffs, but his tone of voice does when you see/hear the video down below. Hetfield continued talking of everything being written with fresh ideas:

“[The songs] were all put together over the course of time — I would say maybe a year and a half. But the riffs… I mean, the riffs could have been around for a little longer. But there’s no… I mean, it’s all new. There’s nothing that was left over from other albums or anything, so it’s all new. Some are riffs that were on my riff collection, and some were, ‘Let’s just go out and play,’ and some just came about there. So some are super fresh, and some are, obviously, from the last year.”

Hammett’s original comment about over 200 riffs on his lost cell phone led many to believe that this was the reason for creating new ideas for Hardwired. In an interview with, Hammett discussed his misery in losing the phone…

[Seeing the interviewer with tape recorder]: “Bro, hey, I am all about that cassette player, and I am looking at it with much envy. I am so loath to put anything on my iPhone. I’m like the poster boy for losing his iPhone. I am the poster boy for that.
Let’s just say it’s like, the reverberations for me, the consequences of losing my cell phone have been immense. I mean, it doesn’t matter who you are or what type of person you are, I think losing your cell phone is traumatic for anyone. And I mean, okay, I lost my phone, I lost a lot of music, but I mean, people lose cell phones, they lose all their personal information, you know? I’m kind of a technological sloth. It took me losing my iPhone to figure out that I can back it up to the iCloud. And the ironic thing about that is, the guy who invented the cloud is my next-door neighbor.”

Hammett sounded highly regretful about how many actual riffs he lost:

“Let me tell you this. I had about, I don’t know, 450 entries in there, which means there were about 250, 300 riffs, because a lot of times I’ll write different versions of the same riff. And when I lost my phone, I could only recall about four riffs. So I’ve closed the book on that [laughs]. And, you know, I’m sitting on some music—now!—that I’m happy about. I’m just waiting, waiting for an opportunity, you know, where it can grow. And, you know, I’m always writing music. Every time I pick up my guitar, I’m hoping I can write the next ‘Rock the Nation’ or something.”

So obviously, there are two opinions voiced in this matter that don’t mesh identically. Hammett had mentioned that after he lost those riffs, Lars took a more prominent role in the songwriting and that Hammett committed solos only along with his typical great guitar work. Whatever works for Metallica seems to work for everyone else considering this is one of the best metal albums of the year with high praise from fans & critics on both sides of the ocean. Hopefully there are no issues within the band now that Hetfield seems to have not been concerned with Hammett’s lost riffs to begin with. Hopefully Metallica aren’t hardwired to self destruct.

About the deleted ‘riffs’ disc that was replaced by a mostly live 3rd disc on the deluxe edition:

Hetfield: “I think it’s crap. I mean, it’s not very good, it’s not very interesting to listen to. Yeah, it’s the beginnings of the riffs. I understand people would love it. It didn’t make sense to put it out on the record it was on. I mean maybe 10 or 20 years later one of our kids can put it out, on something you know, ‘the origins of Hardwired’. I think people were excited, maybe disappointed when we pulled it but it didn’t sound great.”