During a recent telephone interview with Dante, former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted spoke candidly about accepting his part in “SUPERGROUP FAME”…the approach he takes to music…& developments with his latest project, aptly titled “NEWSTED”. With the release of “METAL” launching in a three-part EP format, official video “Soldierhead” only hitting airwaves one week ago, & plans of touring with a different crew…Jason tells us about THE DRIVE it takes to not only front the new act, but take the power-shredding music down roads never travelled before. After all these years, the “Rhythm Master” remains true-to-heart…& has not changed his view about the music business, or what it means to be inspired by the fans. Check it out!
DM: I know it’s been awhile since this happened, but first I want to congratulate you on the Rock & Roll “Hall of Fame”. It must feel great to be a part of that.
Jason Newsted: It’s pretty surreal, really. It was a great honor, & I tried to take it all in, but it was pretty overwhelming to think about that in any reasonable terms. The people you are elbow-to-elbow with, once you are put in that place…it’s quite a feather in the cap, & I don’t think I have fully fathomed it yet…now that you mentioned it.
DM: How did your new band “NEWSTED” come about?
Jason Newsted: I have been jamming with these guys for awhile, but I think it was pretty much Lars’ fault. He called me in October of 2011, & asked me to come jam with these guys for the 30th Anniversary thing. I didn’t really know what to expect…I just knew I was going to have a good time. I was looking forward to seeing the family, again. It’s the same people that have worked with Metallica for decades, all the crew guys & everyone…so it’s a pretty tight-knit bunch. I was just looking forward to seeing everybody. I went down to check it out. I started to hang out with my people, & the crowd started reacting to me being there, & we started playing on stage…& it was just overwhelming – the energy that they were directing toward me. And each day it just got heavier & heavier…so, yeah, Lars asked me to do it…& the people took over & called me back. It really was that. That’s why I am doing it now, because I got such a strong feeling from the fans that night.
DM: When did you decide to put “Newsted” together?
Jason Newsted: I started figuring out my options in December of 2011. I started to ask myself what I could do. Could I go play with Flotsam? Could I put a “Supergroup” together? I could go play with some guys I have some history with…so I played some shows with “Flotsam & Jetsam” in early 2012. We got the original line-up together, & played “Doomsday for the Deceiver” for a couple of different days. It was the 30th reunion for the Flotsam guys as well, & 25 years for the “Doomsday” record…so it was an appropriate reunion for us. We just jammed it & had a good time, but I didn’t see it for anything more than what it was…so, I started putting together what I was going to do for a band. These guys, that I am with now, we have been jamming for a few years. We got together, & I got on my iPad last year (I think it was in September), & wrote all these tracks. We recorded eleven tracks, so far…in a couple weeks time. I wrote all the songs on guitar, & recorded all the tracks, & had these guys learn the songs – for when we would record them for real. I played all the rhythm guitar on the record…all of the bass, some of the leads, & all of the vocals. It was quite an undertaking…about fourteen months time. Metallica said I needed to take it to the people again, so that was it. It was because THE PEOPLE asked me to do it, basically.
DM: LIVE…are you going to be playing guitar, as well?
Newsted: Yes, mostly bass…but I should be playing guitar as well, & if everything falls together the way we want it to…we should be playing as a four piece.
DM: Do you have any ideas “who” your guitar player is going to be?
Newsted: I do have my person chosen, but I am not telling anybody yet.
DM: When is the full-length version of this going to be released?
Newsted: We have eleven songs…we are going to do three EPs…& at the end of all that, we will release the full album. That will be released on vinyl & all other formats, but in between…the CDs will be available two weeks after the iTunes EP releases. So…January 8th was the iTunes release, pre-orders for the CD start on the 15th, & the CDs ship on the 22nd…&, ultimately, the full CD will be out by the summer & will be out in all forms by the end of the year.
DM: Do you have any tour plans, yet?
Newsted: There is a lot of stuff on the table. There was a lot of interest generated over the holidays. When everyone came back to work, on the second of January, everyone started blowing the phone up. I’ll be going out to L.A. in the next week or so, to meet with everyone…to find out what the real deal is – because there is always a lot of talk in this business. So, I want to meet with people to find out what’s going on FOR REAL. There are a few offers…domestic & international – festival stuff. There are some cool mid-size to “Big Club” gigs. I would like to do some four or five-hundred seaters…to bust the rust off, & sweat, & stuff like that…& there are some support slots with a few “Hero Bands”, so all those things are being talked about. My quest has not changed, from the time I started in Flotsam & Jetsam…take the music to whoever will listen to it, anywhere on the planet. Anywhere that accepts our “Westernized” music…I want to take it to them. I have already played in between 40 & 50 countries, & I plan on playing in more than that! Anybody that will have us, we will go & take care of business…if everything works out.
DM: How would you describe Newsted “Metal”…compared to everything else you have done? Are these songs from a different place…compared to Flotsam, Voivod, Metallica, Echo Brain, & Papa Wheelie?
Newsted: Yeah, this is quite a bit different…in a lot of ways. I have been out of the serious performance business, since 2006. I did the “Rock Star Supernova” thing…a little bite with Ozzy & Voivod, surrounding that. That was the last time I was out amongst the people, besides for a few “Papa Wheelie” club shows. That part is going to be different – going out & assuming new roles as the lead vocalist, bass player, & guitar player as well. These are things I’ve never done. I have done it with “Papa Wheelie”…but that was just improvisational, sloppy, slabs of metal…that doesn’t have to be too precise. In this band, it’s a little more serious. I did construct all the songs myself, I am putting MY NAME on it, & I am singing lead vocal on the recordings too…so, it’s a lot of new steps. With all those things in mind, this is a pretty fresh approach to things. I really have to be on my toes. I have to work a lot harder, & I have to remember a lot more. It’s a lot more to take on personally, as far as “performer” goes – for sure. I am ready for it…& I am a little scared. I would say I am…EXCITEDLY SCARED.
DM: Since you mentioned Ozzy, I wanted to add that it was pretty cool seeing you at “OZZFEST” – playing with him.
Newsted: Yeah, that was my third dream come true. I got to play with Metallica, Voivod, & Ozzy…& I am working on my “Fourth Dream” right now, man.
DM: I have an off-topic question for you, if you don’t mind. Was that “Rock Star: Supernova” thing fixed? Because it sure as hell looked fixed, & I remember watching the first show with my wife…& we picked the winner from day one.
Newsted: No, not as far as I was concerned. I know where my vote was. I know how honest I was about everything, & I know who I wanted to win. I put in my vote, like I was committed to at the beginning, when I signed the contract with those people. I said I was going to do “this & this & this” for “this much money” – & that’s what I did. I never agreed to do the tour, or anything like that. I fulfilled what I said I would fulfill. It was way to “HOLLYWOOD” for me, bro. I learned a lot from the experience…that’s for sure! The money was incredible, & the actual time that Tommy Lee & I got to hit (as a rhythm section) was killer. We only practiced about four or five times, but it was killer & I had a lot of fun with it. When it gets down to making the volume, I am all about it…but the rest of the things that surrounded it, & everyone gets so distracted with all of their “Hollywood Bullsh*t” – that’s just not for me, man. That is the opposite of what I want to do. If we are not going to plug-in & make noise, I would rather not be there. You have to let the music do the talking, & everything else flows from that…not the other way around. Just because you wish it’s going to be great, does not mean it’s going to. To put three guys in a room full of bands that did “OK” & say, “We’re not asking for much, just give us the next Stairway…” is crazy, & they were serious. They wanted a “BAD COMPANY” or “LED ZEPPELIN” song…that was going to sell millions of copies. That’s how clueless the TV guys were. It was a weird experience, but I’m glad I did it…because it made me better.
DM: How does it feel to have been in a band that meant so much to so many people?
Newsted: I really didn’t know. Looking back, it’s good to know I have made more people smile…than frown. Just now, these last five or six weeks, after getting a handle on social-media & talking to people from all corners of the globe…parts I have not played yet, but the music still reached there…it’s a PRETTY BIG DEAL…& I am, just now, figuring out what you’re talking about. I am, just now, fathoming the seeds that I have planted. By giving people the time of day while touring around the world…it’s now coming back to me, with this beautiful fruit that I just did not know would be there. I know Metallica meant a lot to people, because they meant a lot to me before I joined them. But when you are in it, it is hard to stand back from it & see what’s going on. It’s kind of awkward. I am able to reflect now…through people’s words & expression, & their positive energy.
DM: Is there anything you want to say to your fans, before we wrap this up?
Jason Newsted: I just want everybody to realize the truth of this. I was inspired all the way through to come back again, by that feeling…I tasted “that feeling” again…& I want to THANK EVERYONE for helping me realize it was “OK” to come back with new music. It feels really good…because I am doing it for everybody, & because I WANT to do it…& it has nothing to do with anything other than that. And just so there is no confusion…it’s “NEWSTED”…it’s “METAL”…you know what you are going to get.