If you couldn't already tell by some of the ghoulish faces painted on his favorite axes, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a serious horror fan. His San Francisco home houses the world's second-largest collection of horror memorabilia, including rare posters for classic films such as Nosferatu and The Mummy, as well as life-sized replicas of famous monsters from The Creature From the Black Lagoon and other flicks. He showed off his horror collection — and tales of the herculean efforts required to amass it — in the 2012 book Too Much Horror Business. But this weekend, Hammett will put it on display to the general public at the first-ever Fear FestEvil, a combination horror convention and heavy metal festival at the Regency Ballroom. Along with horror-world stars, Hammett has invited Bay Area metal bands like Exodus (which he played in before joining Metallica) and Death Angel to perform on the Regency Ballroom's stage, where he'll join them during their encores. Ahead of the fest, we talked to Hammett about his love of horror and what to expect when metal greats gather in S.F. this week.
SF Weekly: How are you, Kirk?
Kirk Hammett: Good man, I just went out surfing at Ocean Beach and it was so motherfucking cold. The waves were beautiful, but when I jumped in I could tell the water was maybe 50, 51 degrees. But other than that it was fantastic.
Where did the idea for the Fear FestEvil come from? Was it related to your book, Too Much Horror Business?
There definitely is a connection. I put out Too Much Horror Business in 2012. So [then] Metallica did the Orion festival, our music festival in Chicago and Atlantic City. To personalize the festival, we came up with the concept of having lifestyle tents. I basically turned my tent into a crypt, and just filled it with a bunch of stuff from my collection, and called it Kirk's Crypt. It was also a vehicle for me to sell my book. I had so much fun doing it, and the feedback I got from my fans was so overwhelmingly positive, that we decided to do it again last year for Orion festival. It was a little bit bigger, a little bit better — it was just so much fun. The feedback was just so cool that I decided, heck, I don't need the Orion festival to do this, I can do this on my own, I can do this in San Francisco.
Seems like the Regency, with its history and atmosphere, would be the perfect place.
Bro, the fourth floor has a Masonic temple on it, and that floor's supposedly haunted, and that's where I'm going to be displaying my collection. There's a big stage there where we're going to hold the panels, and there's these scrims behind the stage — scrims are backdrops basically — but 33 of them. They were made in, I don't know, the 1890s or something — painted on linen, and they're amazing-looking. Over the course of the convention we're going to be switching out those scrims.
My vision for the convention is to make it a complete experience — something that you can actually interact with, rather than going to San Diego Comic-Con, where you get bombarded by vendors and the whole consumerism aspect. What we're doing here is we're trying to create an atmosphere, an ambience, that's going to encourage interaction. We're going to have tattoo artists on-site tattooing. We're going to have a taxidermist doing a display and a demonstration. We're going to have various producers, directors, actors, and actresses doing panels and signings. At some point or another, each band will sit down and do a signing. We're going to have various costume contests and model contests, which is going to be a lot of fun. The music part of it is going to be great: Exodus and Carcass the first night, Death Angel [and] Orchid second night. I'm really excited to get up onstage and play with Exodus and Death Angel.
Has there been anything like this before?
Not in the Bay Area. [We're trying to] give emphasis on the horror genre as a whole, and the culture of that. Then, in the evening time, it turns into heavy-metal horror. And one ticket will get you into the convention and into the musical part of it, too. I'm hoping that it'll be enough of a success this year so that we can have it next year as well, and hopefully have it move to other places. But we'll see how realistic that is.
You're actually going to see [the] vision that's in my sick little head come out in this convention. I'm going to be there from the beginning to the very last minutes of it, and interacting and participating as much as I can. I'm going to be doing a panel as well, maybe a couple panels. Just because my name is attached to it doesn't mean that I'm going to be untouchable. I'm not going to be hiding anywhere.
You're performing with Exodus and Death Angel during their encores. But with all of the bands, plus Slash, Anthrax's Scott Ian, and Doyle [of Misfits fame] around, is there a possibility that you might all get onstage for an all-star jam?
We're trying to be as flexible as we can with the whole musical portion of it. So if the opportunity comes, and if the situation is right and everyone feels comfortable and into it, yeah, by all means. What I don't like about conventions and that sort of thing is the rigid aspect of the schedule. I'm a real spontaneous person, and I'm trying to work in as much spontaneity as I can into this convention. And hopefully some very cool spontaneous musical thing will come up. Who knows? I would like it.
As a longtime fan, can you explain the attraction of horror films? Do you still find them scary? What does horror culture do for you?
I've been attracted to horror movies ever since I was a young child. Back then I just loved getting scared. It was a very exciting thing for me to sit there and check out cool-looking monsters and get scared. As an adult I can be more philosophical about it, and say it puts me in touch with my own mortality and all that other bullshit, but bottom line is, I still get a thrill from watching horror movies, and that thrill is the same thrill I had when I was a kid. It never died. Maybe I just still have yet to fucking grow up, I don't know. But for me a good horror movie is like a good heavy metal song. It has its different dynamics, it has its peaks, it has its valleys, has its quiet bits, has its loud bits. I've always felt like a bit of an outcast, and a bit of a misfit, and maybe I can relate to a lot of the protagonists in a lot of these films.