JASON NEWSTED: ‘As Long As My Body Holds Up And I’m Mentally Able To Do It, I’ll Keep Doing It’

Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal of Metal Assault recently conducted an interview with former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Metal Assault: Talking of the vocals, the METALLICA fan base has always loved you for your contribution in that department. But what’s it been like for you to do lead vocals on this new music of yours?

Jason: It’s a very different thing. In my other band, PAPA WHEELIE, where I play punk and stony metal and all that, I play guitar and sing. It’s much different to play guitar and sing as compared to playing bass and singing, because you’ve got to hold down the bass while trying to sing at the same time. It’s quite difficult, actually. So it’s a challenge that I like. I’m assuming a few different roles in this band that I’ve never had before, being the frontman and the bassist at the same time. I’m also playing guitar live. I’ll switch back and forth between bass and guitar during the performance. Singing other than just the cookie-monster vocals, actually trying to sing-sing, for me, it has been developing for eight or ten years, trying to get my real voice. I can still do all the crazy, heavy stuff but I’m really trying to sing a little bit more now. So all that stuff for me is really exciting and every song is a challenge.

Metal Assault: When can we expect [the NEWSTED full-length debut] to be released?

Jason: We have 13 songs for the LP, and the record company is so far very happy about what they’ve heard. So I think they’re making quite a big plan for the rollout of it. We’ll probably put it out in something like September, because we have about 70 shows in front of us right now starting on this Friday, taking us around the world. We’re playing 13 countries in June, and come back for a big tour in July that you’ll be hearing about very soon. So we have a lot of shows and a lot of things to be done. There’s a lot of work that we want to do to bring the LP to the people. We’re trying to work out a new video, kind of like “Soldierhead”, very simple and to the point, to let people know what’s going on. We’ll use the social media to let everybody know, and we’ll launch it by putting singles out first. So I would say early fall, late summer for the first NEWSTED LP.

Metal Assault: Were you happy with how the EP came out in terms of the taste it gave to the people of this band?

Jason: Well, for what it is and how it was created, I’m very proud of it because we made the entire thing in six days. What we’re used to is, we’ll go in and jam it, then we’ll record it and share it with the people. There’s not too many overdubs, not much bullshit and not too much messing around the studio. We just kind of play it. So, the initial intention at the every beginning of what became the “Metal” EP was, I had 11 songs that I was going to go in with Jessie and Jesus Mendez to record for fun. But I had actually written an acoustic ballad for my wife as a wedding present that I had talked those guys into recording with me. So that was our initial intent going into the studio. I hired a cello player, I played 12-string guitar and all different stuff on there to make a real nice pretty song for her. It’s more like a “Fade To Black”-type song, kind of quiet in the beginning, then it becomes hugely epic at the end and super fucking heavy. But in the meantime, once we got that song done, I had this bunch of songs in my pocket and those happened to be “Soldierhead”, “Godsnake”, “King Of The Underdogs” and “Skyscraper”. We recorded all those as well, and they were just meant to be initially for ourselves, to have a CD to blast in our truck and drive around with it, just be happy about jamming in Chophouse and everything like that. It was fun, but then one person played it for another person, then the next person, and “Soldierhead” got around real quick to labels and radio. Within about two weeks from when the first guy played “Soldierhead” for somebody, we had three different labels asking us to sign. So it was a very quick thing that wasn’t really intended to be this, but it just transpired. It was out there, so we decided to make some copies and sell it from the Chophouse, sell it from my garage, put it on iTunes and see what people thought. I had been reading about bands like CLUTCH and DOWN putting out EPs on the Internet to see what was going on with fans, to kind of test the water and the response of fans. That’s what I wanted to do. I’d been out of the “big business” since 2003. That was the last time I was out on a big tour going around the world, with Ozzy Osbourne. So I haven’t really been in the business seriously as long as I was in the underground with VOIVOD, ECHOBRAIN and different bands. So, with a lot of new avenues for me to discover with the internet and everything, once I put the music out there and started seeing the response of all the long time fans and the new fans, I realized we really had something. So now here we are about six months later, and we have a world tour at our feet. We have Sony, Universal and Geffen distributing the record throughout the world. We’re getting some great tours and some great offers. It was really just meant to be, I guess! The fans asked me to come back to this. Their desire and their response to the music made me want to come out and do this again, and that’s exactly what happened.

Metal Assault: Now here’s one question which quite a few people actually wanted me to ask you. What’s your overall aim with the band? Are you going full-on long-term with this, or are you going to just see how it goes?

Jason: I’ll see how it goes. I’d, of course, want it to be long-term. I think the EP is an instant classic, and it will kind of be forever. The LP will be that as well. It’s about the demand of the people and going back to my last answer, I haven’t been out on the road for a long, long time. I’m not really sure what’s out there. So right now I’m spending a lot of my own money to make sure this band happens. I want to give it a real good effort. My name is on this thing. It’s my voice, my songs from top to bottom, my compositions and my words, all of that. So it’s very important for me to see it succeed. How far it will go, I don’t really know. I’m willing to chase it as far as I can, for as long as the people keep demanding it. There’s a lot of unknown right now that we’re preparing for. We definitely are able to take the music to the people in a fierce way, and that’s what I want to do. As long as my body holds up and I’m mentally able to do it, I’ll keep doing it.

Read the entire interview at Metal Assault.