"Paul Baloff was so pissed that he poured a beer over my head" – Kirk Hammett on quitting Exodus to join Metallica

(Image credit: Pete Cronin / Getty)

Kirk Hammett is one of the few guitarists to have played a part in two seminal thrash metal bands. The other name that first springs to mind being Dave Mustaine – whom Hammett replaced after his ousting from Metallica before they tracked debut album Kill Em All. 

Now in a newly unearthed 1994 interview Louder has published, Hammett reveals his Exodus bandmates were less than happy about the move at the time.

"It was April 1st, April Fool’s Day, and I was sitting on the toilet," recalls Hammett on the momentous day he got the call in 1983 asking him to join Metallica. 

"I got the call from [Metallica sound engineer] Mark Whittaker, and after I hung up, I was like, ‘I can’t believe I just got that phone call. Was that an April Fool’s Day prank?’ A couple of days later I got this tape from them, but I already had the demo and I already knew two thirds of the songs on there."

That demo was the No Life 'Til Leather recording that features Mustaine's blazing lead work on a number of songs he also contributed to at the writing stage. 

"I told the guys in Exodus and they were pissed," continues Hammett. "They were pissed. I remember [late Exodus frontman] Paul Baloff was so pissed that he poured a beer over my head. He said, ‘[angry-hurt voice] I can’t believe you’re doing this Kirk’, then poured his beer over my head. I just took it, ‘Yeah, yeah, I know…’"

So did he feel guilty leaving Exodus in the lurch?

"Oh yeah," admits Hammett. "But, y’know, I also left a lot of music with those guys. A lot of the music I wrote ended up on that first album [1985’s Bonded By Blood], and they recorded some other songs that never made it. I never said anything because of the way I left them. I always had guilty feelings about that. Well, not any more…"

So all's well then, and unlike Mustaine's rollercoaster timeline regarding his relations with Metallica, Hammett continues to be on friendly terms with his old band to this day - even guesting with them a few times. 

Check out the full interview over at our sister site Louder.com

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.