Metallica’s Kirk Hammett was recently interviewed by 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich, and during the chat he discussed the iconic “Enter Sandman” riff. According to the guitarist, the riff actually came about when his was inspired by Soundgarden.
Hammett said the following [via Blabbermouth]:
“It was very specific,” he said. “I have a very specific memory. It was about two or three o’clock in the morning. I had just been listening to ‘Louder Than Love’, the [second] SOUNDGARDEN album. It was when SOUNDGARDEN [was] still somewhat underground and [was] on an independent label. I just love that album; it’s a great SOUNDGARDEN album. And I heard that album, I was inspired, I picked up my guitar and out came that riff.”
Hammett said that he knew right away “it was a cool riff. You kind of get an idea that a riff is cool, ’cause when you play it, if it’s a cool riff, you can just instantly groove on it,” he explained. “So, yeah, [I thought], ‘Yeah, this is pretty cool. It’s a good feel, it’s a good sound, it’s a good combination of notes.”
The guitarist recalled that the song started to take shape once he played the riff to one of his bandmates. “When Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] heard the riff, he said, ‘Repeat that first part four times,’ and I did, and he said, ‘There you go,'” Hammett told “Toucher & Rich”.
Asked if he ever got a chance to tell the SOUNDGARDEN guys that they were the inspiration for the song that eventually became METALLICA’s breakthrough hit, Hammett said: “It doesn’t sound like a SOUNDGARDEN riff, it doesn’t sound like a SOUNDGARDEN song. I was inspired by SOUNDGARDEN for sure — without a doubt — but I moved on to create something completely different.”