Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces 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.
On forming NEWSTED:
Jason: “The drummer’s name is Jesus Mendez Jr., and I’ve known him for 12-13 years. He started out as a local crew guy that helped over at METALLICA headquarters, and that’s how I met him back in the ’90s. He was a drum tech on the ECHOBRAIN tour, and then we started playing in my studio called the Chophouse about ten years ago. We’ve been making music since then. I met a guitar player named Jessie Farnsworth about five years ago, so we’ve had this trio going for about five years. Jessie plays guitar and bass, and sings.
“I got together with Jesus and Jessie, and started working on these songs. They were written fairly quickly, once I got going on the GarageBand. I put them together in August of 2012, pretty much all of them. ‘Skyscraper’ is little bit of an older song but everything else are fresh, new songs, just a couple of months old. I wrote them all on GarageBand on the iPad, and then I gave them the songs in August of 2012 to learn. They went and learned them, and then we’ve been recording. We recorded some in October, and recorded another batch in December. The plan is to release 11 songs in the first six months of 2013 in three different batches. The first batch is four songs [the ‘Metal’ EP], the four songs that are available via iTunes.”
Jason: “Its lyrical content is basically what I think would go on in a soldier’s mind. The song says in the beginning ‘Bombs go off around me / Bullets chase my head / I try to not get dead.’ It’s basically that, my shout out to the soldiers. That’s what it is for me. It was written fairly quickly, like the other ones. When I sit down with a guitar and concentrate it just shows, just like my paintings. It comes from the sky, and I just have to be channeling the music. I don’t really think about it too much — it just happens. ‘Soldierhead’ was a pretty quickly written song. I’m very proud of the lyrics; I’m very excited for people to read all of the lyrics, but that’s what that one’s about.
“As a fan of METALLICA it’s like old-school METALLICA, like ‘Kill ‘Em All’  or something. It’s that old thrashy thing. I think it has the younger voice. The singing voice I’m using now is much different than the cookie-monster voice, like ‘Die, motherfucker, die!’ or any of that kind of thing. It’s quite a bit different. It’s a real singing voice this time, so that’s what the music is. It’s old-school metal; ‘Soldierhead’ particularly is like speed metal, old-school thrash metal.”
Jason: “‘Godsnake’ is kind of a heavier track, more like BLACK SABBATH. The words talk about judging, and not judging people. Not judging things, and not judging until you know what the facts are. Basically, that’s what it talks about. You never know what you’re gonna get with people, so don’t pretend that you know what they are until you know what they are, and that kind of thing.”
On “King Of The Underdogs”:
Jason: “I see it as a really cool live song that people can sing along to, chant along to, and scream together at a live show. It’s kind of like a heavy groove-oriented song. I think there’s a lot of nice space in it. It’s almost funky, in a way. It’s like a heavy, funky song for the first minute or two, and then it gets considerably heavy [laughs]. It really has the most groove out of any of the songs, so that’s that one. It’s a little bit mid-tempo. It reminds me possibly of some riffier [LED] ZEPPELIN stuff, personally.”
Jason: “It has really big guitar riffs, like happy, upbeat rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs. Not happy in the sappy way, but happy in the upbeat way. It has a great message, which just speaks of no war. Please no more war, basically. You’ll have to hear it for yourself, but each one of the songs has a great meaning to me and I hope they have a great meaning to other people. There are no wasted words, or anything. I’m very proud of those lyrics, so I hope everybody likes them.”
On ROCK STAR SUPERNOVA:
Jason: “If you think about that one, you’ve got the two biggest Hollywood rock star bands involved with a guy from the purest metal band. You’ve got GUNS ‘N ROSES, which is so much fakey, Hollywood stuff. You’ve then got MÖTLEY CRÜE which is even more fakey, Hollywood stuff, and then you’ve got real metal. It was not easy to get them to come to rehearsals, or even play songs. We only got to have like five rehearsals in the entire existence of the band. That’s not the way I do things. I work hard and I practise hard, and I always have. I don’t do that kind of Hollywood shit, man. [laughs]”
On whether he is trying to prove he isn’t a has-been:
Jason: “The only difference about that deal is I chose to do what I did. I made all the decisions. I did it my way, okay? It wasn’t a thing like, ‘DOKKEN is no longer any good because they suck. They’re has-been,’ or ‘So and so band player is no good anymore because they can’t play for shit,’ or ‘So and so is no good anymore because he got kicked out of the band for doing too much heroin,’ or whatever. That’s a has-been. I chose my path, what I wanted to do. I made my own decisions throughout my own life. Therefore, I was successful the whole time. I played in METALLICA for 15 years, and finished that 12 years ago. That was, that once was. That was good, but I have a whole new thing now. I am.
“I’ve always been, so has-been? Yeah. I have been in FLOTSAM, I have been in ECHOBRAIN, I have been in OZZY [OSBOURNE], I have been in VOIVOD, and I have been in METALLICA. [laughs] Yes I have, and now I’m in this band, and I’m still alive. It doesn’t bother me even one little bit about any of those kinds of comments, and please don’t feel bad about saying anything like that. I’m gonna tell you, dude: life is pretty good. If I had stayed in METALLICA, METALLICA would no longer be alive. It would no longer be a band. People need to… There’s one thing… I haven’t said this to anybody else, but I’ll say it to you. I saved METALLICA when I entered their band, and I saved them when I left their band. Because I did both of those things, they’re still around. I didn’t do it by myself, so don’t take it like that. It wasn’t single-handed, or nothing. I’m not taking credit like that.”
On recurring rumors he might rejoin METALLICA:
Jason: “Every time there’s a picture of us together or somebody brings some other picture up, everybody says, ‘Are you going back to the band? Please go back to the band’ and all this stuff. That’s not on the cards. I was already in their band; I was already in their band for half of the band’s life. I’m good. I don’t need to be in their band goddammit. [laughs] I was already in that band.”
On NEWSTED‘s forthcoming album:
Jason: “The final product — the album in May — will be distributed properly. We’ll be doing four songs every eight to ten weeks. There’ll be new songs, and at the end of those three periods – two months, two months, two months, and then that six-month period — that’s when the whole thing will be put together.”
On the title of NEWSTED‘s forthcoming album:
Jason: “My plan is that all three of the different offerings of songs will be titled something different to make up the final title at the end. You’ll be able to get the whole album on vinyl. It’ll be a whole title that is made up of the other titles. You’ll see.”
Read the entire interview at www.metalforcesmagazine.com.