Kirk Hammett brings horror collection, himself to ‘It’s Alive!’ exhibit at Peabody Essex Museum

Posted by on August 21, 2017

Metallica concluded their North American WorldWired Tour trek last week, and while we can watch their final performance in all of its glory, members now have time to work on their non-Metallica endeavors. Guitarist Kirk Hammett didn’t even wait a week before appearing at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts to discuss his horror collection with his It’s Alive! exhibit, which is up until November 26th.

The recent opening of the exhibit was split into two segments, taking place over this past weekend on Saturday (19). The first was a signing and the second,  a conversation with exhibition curator Daniel Finamore. Following a long drive between New York City and Salem Massachusetts, we were lucky to make it just in time for the conversation.

Hammett loves three things: music, horror films, and surfing. For three decades, the guitar legend has collected horror and sci-fi items ranging from posters, props, costumes, and even having artwork specially made on his guitars. This exhibit is the first to showcase his insane collection, which includes 75 posters, 6 guitars and more. Fans could also take home a catalog of his It’s Alive! Collection for $30, which can be found here.

Saturday’s sold-out event was a mix of Metallica and horror fans, wearing a range of old-school Metallica t-shirts to new ones from their recent tour along with a few iconic shirts, like those of Italian horror director Dario Argento. The discussion was mainly about the history of horror films and getting to know more about the guitar legend. Hammett revealed his passion for music is the same for movie posters.

He then admitted to being a huge Boris Karloff fan by reflecting on the first horror poster artwork he placed on his guitar over twenty years ago, which was from the 1932 film The Mummy. He thoroughly explained how much the poster means to him, stating how the powerful image comes to life in his mind.

He revealed his horror collection began shortly after receiving some “loose Ride the Lightning change” as he collected comics and items he used to buy during his childhood years. He then explained the similarities between comedy and horror such as laughing and feeling scared are both the same. Hammett educated the crowd about horror cinema, revealing some classic horror films had the same soundtrack, with Dracula, The Mummy and Frankenstein all featuring “Swan Lake.” The guitarist admitted wanting to create his own “Swan Lake,” as he stood up to the crowd playing a snippet of the overplayed tune with his Ouija guitar.

Finamore asked Hammett about Metallica’s recent tour, questioning how he organizes his life. Being busy didn’t seem to phase Hammett, as he explained his obsession with music and film. He follows his passions along with continuing his hunt for more horror posters waiting to be discovered. Later, he compared performing on stage to watching horror films expressing how the feeling of anticipation is the same such as an unexpected scene in a film and the crowd’s reaction at a show. Hammett recalled the feeling of flight or fight emphasizing how he wants to run when something goes wrong in a film is the same when something goes wrong at a gig.

The guitarist performed a few horror soundtracks which led to discussing his own instrumental piece written exclusively for the exhibit entitled “The Maiden and the Monster.” He recalled how songs used to be written for special events and thought it would be a good idea to continue with the tradition and wrote a horror story using only musical notes. He explained how he wanted it to not be considered as a musical score but an actual horror story that fans can visualize images while listening to the song.

The discussion concluded with Hammett answering questions exclusively from fans. One question was what Hammett’s favorite horror soundtracks and he went with The Hunger and The Shining.

“The Shining is one of the greatest films to ever be made that was so not like the book.”

Later, he was asked what happened to his Spider guitar and regretfully answered it’s currently located in a museum somewhere in Tokyo and he’s been trying to get it back for a long time.

For those who enjoy horror films or are only obsessed with Metallica, it was an inspiring evening about passion, creativity and film history. Following the discussion, the crowd were invited to see the exhibit and it is something well worth a five hour drive, or more. The rooms were covered in horror and sci-fi memorabilia including Hammett’s guitars. There were props, costumes and an assortment of figurines, making many eager to watch a horror flick that night.

However, the final room was the best out of the entire exhibit. The room was made as an exclusive listen to “The Maiden and the Monster.” The song itself is roughly seven minutes long, and sure enough, you can visualize a film. Unfortunately, people seemed to miss the mark. They left the room without listening to one of Hammett’s most original and disturbing pieces in his career. Aside from that, it was one memorable experience and most likely, the most intimate setting anyone would see Hammett.




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