JASON NEWSTED On Return - "I’m Doing This Because They Screamed Me Back Into It At The METALLICA Anniversary Shows"
January 28, 2013, 2 years ago
By Kelley Simms
The fans have spoken, and bassist Jason Newsted has listened.
After his triumphant return playing with his former band METALLICA at their 2009 induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and all four of their 30th anniversary shows, Newsted reveled in the adulation from his old fans. It prompted him to assemble NEWSTED the band, which has just released a new four-song EP called Metal, released January 8th.
It’s great to be able to welcome back Mr. Newsted to the metal community after being out of the spotlight for a few years now. It’s been 12 years ago to the day (January 10th) that Newsted called the Metallica meeting to give them his notice.
With his new band, a new role as lead vocalist comes with it. He’s always had a strong voice, even singing backups with Metallica, and his devilish snarl compliments his distinctive bass tone well.
“I definitely have some work to do,” Newsted says. “I’m playing guitar some of the time, I’m playing bass some of the time and lead vocals all of the time. So that’s all new territory there. I have a fresh start with a new voice. It’s a young voice still. It’s not just the “Die!” (does his best impression of himself doing the part on “Creeping Death”) guttural crap anymore. I’ve been honing it for the past ten years as I play with these different musicians and get chance to be influenced by some better singers and how they go about things treating their voice as an instrument. Now I do proper workouts with my voice and I want to be the best singer I can be when we take it out to the people.”
Giving props to his bandmates, Newsted gets to watch them experience first-time things that he himself got to experience many years ago.
“We recorded as a trio and we’ll play live as a four piece,” Newsted bigins. “The guys who recorded with me ... the drummer’s name is Jesus Mendenz Jr. I’ve known him for more than ten years. He worked in the Metallica camp for a long time and the ECHOBRAIN camp for awhile as a drum tech. The guitar player/secret weapon/background vocal guy is named Jesse Farnsworth. They’re both out of Fresno, California. We have about five years together as a trio just laying down slabs of improv metal. They have about 10 years together playing live in front of people and recording as a rhythm section. It’s an invaluable thing when they have that under their belt already. They’re disciplined, hard-working, clear-headed people that are motivated and who have paid their dues and now it’s time for their reward.”
Three different shoulder surgeries from 2004 to 2008 kept Newsted one-armed for awhile. In that time, he learned to be ambidextrous with his bass playing. He also picked up a paint brush and immersed himself into his huge-canvas paintings and has become quite prosperous as he sells at least one painting a month now.
“I paint in acrylics mainly but I use all media on all of my canvases. Some are six feet by 12-feet with a lot of goop, muck and plastic. I keep it all real. I go with my painting the same way I go with the music. The paintings are very loud. It’s really a straight transfer of my energy when I couldn’t play the bass.”
The four tracks on Metal make up the first of three batches of EPs to be released intermittently over the next year or so and were written and composed all by Newsted himself.
“These songs are old-school metal. I went back to what I know the best and what I spent the most hours of my life doing. That’s what we recorded on this. It’s an in your face, raw, present kind of music. I’ve been working on the lyrics for many years, they have a lot of meaning and each one tells a story. I’m really proud of that part and I’m looking forward to people seeing the lyrics again. I haven’t really been able to expose that kind of stuff out into the world since the FLOTSAM days. These are far different than the Flotsam lyrics, I’ve come a long way. Each song has its own thing as I see what’s around me. They very much are addressing issues of the world today.”
Being in Metallica was so much part of Newsted’s life and he cherishes the many accolades throughout his career and the many breakthrough moments he got to experience for the first time. There were always rumors that Newsted was treated badly or unfairly by mostly James and Lars while in the band, but that’s something he disputes time and time again. Newsted reflects on his many accomplishments and fondest memories while in Metallica.
“The Grammy awards, multi-platinum record sales, Hall Of Fame was a big feather in the cap. Those are a lot of obvious ones where it’s very surreal and can’t quite believe it’s happening. There’s a lot of those kind of moments. The ones that were the purest for me is I think when we went to places that one had ever taken our style of music to before. When we broke down those barriers in the Eastern block or in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Pacific rim, we were the ambassadors of the metal for the world. That’s always made me feel the most strong and the most proud. Those moments I will never forget. There’s so much joyful, wonderful, forward-motion experiences and accomplishments that I made in the 15 years as part of that big band. The other stuff has washed away now. People can talk smack here and there but it just doesn’t hold any ground anymore. It was so long ago and so many great things have happened since then.”
Newsted’s head is at a great place at the moment and he’s ready to go full throttle with his new band.
“We have a grand plan for this thing and I’m going to do my best,” Newsted concludes. “The fans brought me back into this. I’m doing this because they screamed me back into it at the Metallica anniversary shows. They really made me want to do it again, and that’s why I’m doing it. So as long as they keep screaming for it and keep these positive vibes coming at me I’m going to keep taking it out there.”
For more visit Newstedheavymetal.com.