Ex-Exodus Guitarist Shares Why Metallica Chose Kirk to Replace Mustaine: ‘How you get kicked out of your own band, I don’t know’

Metallica by Photo by Krasner/Trebitz /Redferns. Dave Mustaine Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images
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On paper, it looks like Kirk Hammett landed a gig in the greatest metal band of all time almost by accident.

Even though everyone in “Alcoholica” was known to enjoy a drink or two, Dave Mustaine’s consistent behavior when he drank led to him being slapped with another ticket back to the Bay Area once they reached New York.

Getting asked to join Metallica is something no thrash guitarist could pass up, but Kirk’s replacement in Exodus actually has a theory about why fate played out that way. 

Being interviewed for a recent podcast, Rick Hunolt said that Kirk’s style had a lot more in common with what Dave originally brought to the table, sayingIt’s because Dave and Kirk’s styles back then were similar — pentatonic, bluesy. James didn’t want no effects on his shit.

He wanted Kirk to play dry — no echo; just a real dry Marshall tone. Wah-wah pedal is cool, I guess. But he had a similar style to Dave. Individually, personality-wise, they were completely two different human beings.”

Granted, it’s probably ideal to have a guy that has the same skills as your original guy that doesn’t like to fight people when he drinks, but Dave also felt the exact opposite way when he first saw his old band play, saying:

“The first time I saw how long they allowed Kirk to do a solo, I thought ‘God, he’s horrible.’ I thought ‘This was supposed to be me.’ I’m over it now and looking back on it, I think he makes really good use of the talent that he has.”

As for Rick though, the core of all thrash metal can be traced back to Metallica’s glory years when Dave was still in the band, going on to say “Back in the day, when you went to go see Metallica, the reason why you went to go see them is because we wanted to go see Dave — that’s it.

Dave played lead guitar. He spoke in between songs. James sang — that’s all he did. He didn’t play rhythm guitar. It was the Dave Mustaine show. Period. That’s it. And he was funny as shit — drunk. Oh, God, he was awesome. Dave was, like, the king back then… How you get kicked out of your own band, I don’t know…as far as I’m concerned, personally, Dave Mustaine is the godfather of thrash metal.”

Then again, time probably worked out for the best here, with Dave carving out a whole new legacy as part of Megadeth and Rick perfecting the old guard of Exodus with records like Bonded by Blood. Metal might not go the way you want it to all the time, but sometimes things tend to work themselves out further down the line.

Watch Dave Mustaine explain his initial reaction the first time he saw Kirk Hammett play in Metallica: