Guitar World recently asked them about the state of the instrument in 2021, taking into account the death of Van Halen in October last year. Their responses included some thoughts on how the concept of the “guitar hero” was changing with time.
“I think the guitar hero is a dying breed,” Hammett said. “The new generation, there’s so many good players that it’s hard to pick out a hero because they’re all kind of guitar heroes in their own right. But a lot of times it’s just great musical gymnastics.”
He added: “All guitar heroes are judged by one thing and one thing only – the song they’re playing. You can be the most ripping guitar player, but if your songs fucking suck or are boring or just flat, people are going to be impressed for about 15 minutes. And then they’re going to check their Instagram, see what other guitar players put up.”
Jones noted that Van Halen was “an alien that landed on our planet and showed us how to do it. I don’t really know anyone to compare that to. When I heard him for the first time, it was haunting. Can we have another guy come in and really make a mark like Eddie Van Halen? I don’t know. I hope so. I look forward to what’s new in music and what’s weird in music.”
Former David Lee Roth and current Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 said he was “100 percent” certain there would be another legendary player. “It’s up to us, to the people reading this and the people listening to the music to go, ‘I can be the next guitar hero,’” he explained. “And that doesn’t mean just being able to play the guitar well. It’s someone that can write songs, it’s someone that is inventive. It’s someone that is progressive. There’s a lot that goes into it. But absolutely I think there will be more guitar heroes in the future.”
Most participants in the discussion agreed that the development of social media improved opportunities for guitarists to encounter a wider range of inspirations. “I think it’s great,” Hammett said. “Because there are so many resources out there, people are just better overall. And I think a lot of that has to do with things like Instagram clips. Even me, I’m checking this stuff out and asking myself, ‘Do I competently know what these guys are trying to do? Do I understand their approach and their technique, and can I do it?’ If I can’t, I need to figure it out. That’s the benefit that I get from all of this.”
“I’m constantly listening for moments,” he added. “And what I mean by moments is when something is going on musically that creates an emotion or a feeling, and everything’s happening and everyone’s hitting it and succeeding at it and getting that emotion across. And then I’ll look to create those types of moments in the music that I write for Metallica.”