Yeah. I’ve never had anything against Kerry — he started it all. The many things he said about me hurt my feelings, but I’m still open to being friends with him. Maybe we’ll sit down together and have a drink; he’ll have Jägermeister and I’ll have water. I’m a different person now, I’m 47. I’m happy in my life.
But the olive branch came personally from you?
Yeah. I’ve done a lot of that. I did it with Pantera. I did it with [estranged former bassist] David Ellefson. I had dinner recently with Dave and he said that [leaving the band] was the dumbest thing he ever did. I said, that’s okay — I forgive you. As I sit here talking to you now, thinking about the people I have grievances with, there are zero. I’m really happy with my life. And as my career nears its end, it’s finishing at the top.
Can you pinpoint why you are in such a good headspace right now?
My faith [in God] is behind why I’m playing as good, and how I got rid of my demons. That I’ve been saved is something I don’t push it on anybody, but it’s helped me. It goes back to what I said about Slayer at the start. I’d said I’d never play with Satanic bands. Though people don’t know this, I also said I’d never play with man-whore bands because I didn’t want to go out there and struggle with staring at chicks in the audience. But when my life changed I put all that stuff on the side. I realized I could play with bands that attract female audiences; after all, guys like to go to gigs where there will be chicks — even chubby ones, ‘cos there are chubby dudes — and I began to lighten up. That’s what this whole thing’s about. Right now I’m happy, joyous, free… I’m your buddy, the guy you’ve known forever. You’ve said mean things about me; you’ve said great things about me. But we’re friends; friendship is about good and bad.
How did it feel to be No. 1 in Joel McIver’s recent book, “The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists”?
It was especially sweet when I found out that Joel has written books on Metallica. I looked at my copy of the book — I wasn’t on the cover or the back. I figured I’d be somewhere like No. 69. So I thumbed through it; it’s a really comprehensive, good book. I got to No. 50 and I thought, “Am I in here?” I’d been told that I was, but not which position. So I got No. 16 and I saw Hetfield. I thought, “Wow,” because I respect James. I’m a better lead player than he is, but he’s one of the three best rhythm players in the world