Kirk Hammett Recalls False Hawaii Missile Warning Moment
Kirk Hammett has recalled his personal experience of the mistaken missile attack warning message that was sent to residents of Hawaii in January. The Metallica guitarist was at home with his family when his cellphone received the signal, which read: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”
Speaking in a recent interview session for the band’s fan club, Hammett said: “My phone went off… it just kind of did this little alarm thing. I was doing yoga – I was on my back, upside down or something, and my son said, ‘Hey, Dad, your phone just made one of those funny sounds, like there’s a tsunami coming or something.’ … I walked over to my phone and picked it up, and it said, ‘Missile alert, incoming missiles imminent. This is not a test.’”
But he had a geographic advantage. “Where I live, I can see the airport… and I can see Pearl Harbor, and there’s no action there," he recalled. "No action whatsoever. … And I know for a fact that there’s an early detection system that sits at Pearl Harbor. … Nothing was happening. There was no jet scrambling, no boats leaving Pearl Harbor. There were no sirens or anything – you know, no air raid sirens. So I thought, ‘This has got to be a mistake.’ And I just continued doing my yoga.
"Fifteen minutes later," he continued, "I went online and it said, ‘Yeah, mistake.’ And I was like, ‘It’s okay, boys.’”
Hammett reported that his bandmates had all made contact as soon as they heard of the incident to check that he was okay. “But check this out,” he added. “A friend of a friend had a heart attack. This guy someone I knew was talking to was up on the mountains on a trail, got the alert, and thought about just jumping off the cliff.”
In the same interview, drummer Lars Ulrich discussed the band’s plan to take three months off before returning to action in September. “I think you gotta understand that the break’s a part of moving it forward,” he said. “In order to tour like we tour, in order to play like we play, in order to deliver what we do, in order to be out here away from home, away from our families, in order to sit around this table and talk to you about this, there’s a whole thing that makes it all happen.
"[I]t’s almost like maintenance of something, you know?" he continued. "So part of that maintenance, part of being able to step out on that stage in Madison in early September, is there’s gotta be some time away from it, or else the whole thing would fucking collapse.”