JASON NEWSTED On Leaving METALLICA: I Had To Step Up And Make The Sacrifice For Everybody

Elliot Levin of NY Hard Rock Examiner 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.

NY Hard Rock Examiner: Did you think about coming up with a band name, or did you plan on touring under your own name from the start?

Jason: This really kind of happened by happenstance. It wasn’t a grand plan where I sat down and planned on doing any of this. I never planned on coming back out, especially on something with my name on it. I’ve been doing projects and my own things for a long time, VOIVOD and ECHOBRAIN and PAPA WHEELIE, and different fun things to just get my own pace and my own rules. This started out as the same type of thing. I composed some songs, my wife had got me a new iPad and I got the Garage Band app and sat down with my guitar and just wrote a bunch of songs. One of the songs happened to be for her. We just got married about six months ago, and so I wrote her a song for our wedding. I asked my boys Jesus Mendez and Jessie Farnsworth, we’ve been playing together for about five years, just making our improv music. So I showed them the songs, asked them to play it with me, and we went in to record her song, which is this giant ballad thing, kind of like a “Fade To Black” kind of song, starts off all mellow and nice and ends up crazy at the end. So we played it, recorded it, I had a couple of other songs in my back pocket, we said, “Let’s knock ’em out.” We had a week in the studio so we just played everything, and those extra songs, a couple of them ended up being “Soldierhead” and “Godsnake”, “King Of The Underdogs” and “Skyscraper”. We did it for fun. A couple of folks from the old METALLICA camp, that had worked with METALLICA in the past, they got a hold of “Soldierhead” and played it for a couple of people and, like, three weeks after we had done it, people were calling me up saying, “What are we going to do with this? What’s going to be the deal? We want to be your agent, we want to be your manager.” And I’m like, that’s not what I’m doing here. More and more it just came, I started drawing logos on napkins, and we got someone to master it for us, and it became this thing. Came out on iTunes and went to No. 1 and here we are four months later with a world tour at our feet and an LP completed and everything’s just snowballing pretty magnificently.

NY Hard Rock Examiner: It really is. Have you heard any feedback from [METALLICA members] Kirk [Hammett] or James [Hetfield] or Lars [Ulrich] about the [NEWSTED] EP?

Jason: No. I don’t even know if they know I have music going. We were at the [Revolver] Golden Gods together the other night, and one of the wives said to my wife that the reason they didn’t say anything at the acceptance speech, or they didn’t want pictures together, it’s because they didn’t want to interfere with my project. So, I guess, they had some knowledge of it. But their own world is their own world. I mean, it really is a microcosm, it really is a bubble. So I’m not really sure, to tell you the truth.

NY Hard Rock Examiner: I just watched an interview with [MEGADETH mainman] Dave Mustaine yesterday, and he said that your music sounds like just what he would’ve expected. Is that the kind of response you were hoping for from your peers?

Jason: That’s awesome! That’s a great quote. Yes, that’s what I want to hear from people and that they understand how honest it is. That’s really my main quest, retaining the purity of this music. There’s too much bullshit, faking, pretending you can play through Pro Tools falseness that I don’t want to be caught up or involved in. It’s important to me to fly the flag of metal in its purest form. This is all about punk rock effort; let the music do the talking.

NY Hard Rock Examiner: I don’t think anyone ever faulted you for leaving [METALLICA], especially once we saw “Some Kind Of Monster” and other details came out.

Jason: I had to be the one that stepped up and made the sacrifice for everybody. I had to be the one to grow some nuts, and say this is what’s going to happen, and because I did what I did, they’re more successful than they’ve ever been, they still set the standard, James is healthier than he’s ever been in his entire life. I’m clear-eyed again, I’m off drugs, I’m 19 years old again. I got more years under my belt and I’m still the same fighting weight I was on any of my tours. It’s just a matter of how you go about it. The calendar goes by, but that doesn’t mean you gotta get old.

Read the entire interview from NY Hard Rock Examiner.


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