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Exclusive Interview With Kirk Hammett At Metallica's Orion Festival

By Brian Ives, CBS Local

This weekend, Metallica is bringing their first Orion Festival to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The two-day event will feature over twenty bands, a monster car show, a display of horror film memorabilia, comedians, a film festival and more.

Metallica will headline both nights, and to make the shows unique they will perform two classic albums in full. On Saturday, they're playing 1984's Ride The Lightning, and on Sunday they're playing 1991's Metallica (also known as "The Black Album").

In an exclusive interview with CBS Local, Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett said that this weekend, the fans will get to hear at least one song performed live for the first time.

At a press conference on Friday afternoon, frontman James Hetfield said that the band has played lots of festivals over the years (including Bonnaroo in 2008 and Lollapalooza in 1996), and they wanted to improve upon the experiences they've seen in the past.

When the San Francisco band was asked why they chose Atlantic City for Orion, drummer Lars Ulrich said, "It's easy and accessible. We've played festivals in the past that are 10 miles down a two-lane dirt road on a farm, and we've heard the complaints. So we wanted to try to put something together in a place with a bit of infrastructure, running water and electricity."

The festival has artists from a number of different genres, including country (Eric Church), blues (Gary Clark Jr.), alternative rock (Cage The Elephant), indie rock (Best Coast), punk (Gaslight Anthem) and metal (Sepultura).

When asked what bands he wanted to see during the weekend, bassist Robert Trujillo joked, "Well, if I didn't say Suicidal Tendencies, I'd get my a** kicked" (he is a former member of that band). Ulrich commented that he wouldn't miss Georgia metal band Baroness, and Hammett mentioned Gary Clark Jr.

Hetfield said, "There's quite a few bands on the bill that I'm not a fan of, but I respect the fact that they're good at what they do. And opening the door for someone who might enjoy that music is part of what we're doing as well."

He then added, "All of the bands that are on this bill, we're proud to have them here. A lot of the metal bands need the exposure, we think they're good and we're doing our best to get them out in front of people."

Besides music, each member of the group is curating a non-music event. Hetfield is overseeing a monster car show with cars and motorcycles from 1972 and earlier. Drummer Lars Ulrich is hosting a film festival (as he notes, it has the advantage of being air-conditioned). Bassist Robert Trujillo is overseeing a surfing competition -- Bader Field, which hosts Orion, is right near a beach -- and a skateboard demonstration.

Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, a longtime horror film fanatic, is hosting "Kirk's Crypt," putting his personal collection of rare horror movie memorabilia, classic comics, monster toys, posters and props on display. Hammett said that the collection on display at the festival inspired a book, which will be out later this year.

Hammett will appear at his "Crypt" on Saturday and Sunday to host panel discussions about Too Much Horror Business (which is due out in the fall). The "Crypt" will also feature a professional film makeup artist -- who will transform fans into zombies -- and legendary Exorcist star Linda Blair will host Q&As each day.

Select sets from the festival (including Metallica's performances both nights, as well as sets from Gaslight Anthem, Best Coast and Eric Church) will stream live at Orion's website. Some tickets for the festival are still available. CBS Local will have a complete wrap-up of the festival on Monday morning.

Are you planning to check out Metallica in Atlantic City this weekend? Let us know in the comments section below...

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