NEWSTED – Metal’s Soldierhead
Across four nights on December 5th, 7th, 9th, and 10th of 2011, Metallica performed at The Fillmore in their hometown of San Francisco, California. Celebrating 30 years since their inception, the audiences exclusively consisted of fan club members as well as an array of guests. The outfit’s bassist from October 1986 until January 2001, Jason Newsted lent parts to four Metallica studio full-lengths; … And Justice For All (August 1988), Metallica (August 1991, better known as The Black Album), Load (June 1996), and ReLoad (November 1997). Jason performed with his erstwhile group across each of those four nights in December 2011, other guest musicians additionally appearing throughout.
“I got up and played ten to 12 songs with them over four nights, and was just really surprised by the reaction of the crowd,” he admits. “The fans were just overwhelming in the respect and appreciation they showed for me being up on the stage again. I had really forgotten about it. I have my own life going, because I’ve been out of the band for 12 years. I’m an artist now. I paint pictures and play music all the time, but I do other stuff. I have my own life, but I played with them and was excited again. I thought to myself that maybe this could happen again, that maybe I would give heavy metal one more shot for the people, and show the people a few songs one more time and see how they liked them. That was the beginning of it, in 2011.
“In January and February of 2012, on two separate weekends I went to play with the Flotsam And Jetsam guys in Arizona. We put together the original band, and played Doomsday For The Deceiver (July 1986) in its entirety in a rehearsal space. That was all fun and everything, learning the songs and getting back together again. That would’ve been the 30th anniversary for Flotsam as well, but it didn’t really gel like I was hoping it was going to. To take it back out was my first idea, but that wasn’t going to work.
“I then got together with these players. 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 four songs that are available via iTunes.”
Appearing at San Francisco’s The Fillmore to celebrate Metallica’s 30th anniversary was arguably a fitting conclusion to that specific chapter in the bassist’s life. “It was one of the best experiences ever actually, because it was a resolution,” he feels. “It was a finality, a finish, or whatever you might wanna call it. I’m comfortable and at peace with the Metallica thing, with myself, with my decisions, with my capabilities, with my life, and all that kinda thing. It finally came that night. I had been good all those years, but that night and that week when I played with those guys was a resolving thing. I did the right thing. I did what I did so those guys could still be a strong band. I still had my fun, still got to live, and got to do anything I want whenever I want dude. You have to think about that for a second. When you’re in a big band like that, you don’t get to control your own time all the time. You only get to have a little here and a little bit there, and there’s always something coming. There’s always something that you have to be ready for. There’s always something looming, like another tour, another show, another video shoot. There’s always another reason why you have to be away from your family and your people, and all this kind of stuff.
“It keeps going. You don’t just get to plan out, like ‘I’m gonna go away for vacation.’ You don’t just get to do a spontaneous thing, like taking your wife on a trip. You can’t do that shit, because you’re married to the band first. Once I got away from that I really lived that, and still to this moment I do whatever I want whenever I want. I’m my own boss, and I don’t answer to anyone. I’ve got it all. Nobody can take away all of the things that I’ve done. Nobody can change the videos, or how crazy it was with the singing, screaming, and jumping around, and whipping my head around. All that is forever. The accomplishments that we made together were cool, and now they’ve got a good band together and I’ve got a good band together. We all can rock, and that’s really what matters.”
Jason’s December 2011 guest appearance likely sent the rumour mill into overdrive, fuelling speculation that a reunion was on the cards. “It probably did,” he agrees. “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.”
Arizona-based Flotsam And Jetsam rehearsals across two separate weekends in January and February 2012 ultimately failed to blossom into something more since the rhythmist had arguably drifted apart from his former compadres. “25 years had passed of us being in different worlds,” he ponders. “We moved at different paces. Mine was a cranked and accelerated lifestyle being in Metallica, and all that kind of thing. Flotsam had changed band members, and did a lot of different things in their own lives with their decisions, families, and jobs. It’s considerably different lifestyles that we lead, and so it wasn’t right for that application. It was a great thing for what it was. It was awesome in that room; I think any Flotsam fan would’ve just enjoyed themselves. It was pretty special for the original band to be playing those songs again so loud. I had kind of forgotten how good they really were. We were a fairly tough, fast band, and I hadn’t been reminded of that for a long time. Metallica is a tough band. Metallica’s great for what it does, but in certain spots Flotsam is better. Not overall, but in some spots they are. They’re still very tough musicians with a very fast drummer and all that kind of stuff, so that was exciting. It wasn’t going to work for the future though.”
Nonetheless, Jason aided Flotsam And Jetsam guitarist Michael Gilbert in the penning of lyrical content for December 2012’s Ugly Noise. “I did help with a couple of lyrical things on their new album, but I was trying to not confuse…,” he begins. “They’re releasing their new album at the same time as we are, and so I didn’t want to confuse things too much. I helped with a couple of lyrics for Mike’s songs on their record, but that’s all though.”
The triumvirate of Jason Newsted, drummer Jesus Mendez Jr., and guitarist Jessie Farnsworth comprise Newsted. Lending his surname to the assortment was a calculated decision for the vocalist. “I didn’t want there to be any confusion or mistakes, okay?,” he clarifies. “I’ve played a lot of different styles of music in my career. I spent the most time in Metallica, but I’ve played in a lot of other things besides. Voivod, Ozzy (Osbourne), and Flotsam, Echobrain, DJ Shadow, and some Sepultura stuff, and Gov’t Mule, lots of different styles of music over time. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew what this was. This is my stuff. Newsted, that’s me. And it’s metal. The EP is called Metal; there’s no confusion that when you buy these songs about what it’s going to be. You’re going to hear old school metal from me; any language you speak in any country across the world, you know what you’re getting.”
As implied by the faction’s moniker, Jason is its sole decision maker. “I am the man, okay?,” he confirms. “I’m gonna be real clear about that. I am the man in this band, and there is a reason I wanna be the man. I could have put together a supergroup; I could’ve picked the best metal players, and made a super metal band. I could’ve very easily, but that’s not what I wanted to do. I don’t want people to bring in their baggage from other bands, or all that kind of stuff. I’ve been in bands like that, and I don’t want to do that. I want some players that I’ve been with who I understand, and who understand me. Players that are hard-working people, who aren’t distracted by Hollywood bullshit or wanting to be rock stars or any of that crap that happens in other bands when they try to make supergroups.
“Nobody’s trying to outdo each other, like ‘My band has sold more than your band’ and all this bullshit. I don’t want to deal with any of that and I don’t have to, so I’m not going to. I wanted to get players that are real and genuine musicians, musicians that are motivated, that aren’t drunk, that aren’t drug users, that aren’t any of that shit. I wanted to get people that are real and ready to work hard, so that’s why I chose to have the guys that I have. We recorded as a three-piece, but we’ll perform live as a four-piece. I’ll be taking on another guitar player as well. In the studio I play bass and guitar, and for live performances I play bass and guitar also. You’ll see me singing lead vocals the whole time, but switch instruments.”
The Newsted frontman was previously a member of Rock Star Supernova, a hard rock supergroup which additionally included drummer Tommy Lee (Mötley Crüe), guitarist Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N’ Roses), and vocalist Lukas Rossi. Occupying bass for the quartet, November 2006’s Rock Star Supernova was their sole full-length. “When I was talking about a bad experience or a not so great experience in that particular instance, that was the one I was referring to, yes,” the Newsted frontman verifies. “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).”
Newsted’s musical influences are the same that Jason has always harboured. “I try to keep my original teachers very close, especially when it comes time to make these records and get to the studio,” he shares. “It’s Motörhead first, and then some Black Sabbath, and then some Rush, UFO, AC/DC, and Judas Priest. These kinds of bands that I learned from are what make up my music for sure. You can hear a lot of Motörhead, and Black Sabbath is pretty plain to hear. It’s just what it is man. Whatever I listen to the most, that’s what I regurgitate now.”
A four-track affair, January 2013 EP Metal is inaugurated by the composition ‘Soldierhead’. “Its lyrical content is basically what I think would go on in a soldier’s mind,” the singer divulges. “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 (July 1983) 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.”
Certainly, the voice of James Hetfield (Metallica vocalist) gracing ‘Soldierhead’ isn’t difficult to imagine. ‘Soldierhead’ is arguably a snippet of the types of numbers Jason could’ve contributed to Metallica’s canon, had he been allowed the opportunity to do so. “Yep,” he chuckles. “That’s a good point, my man. Good point. Now though, everybody should see that I always had the songwriting. I always had it (laughs). I just didn’t get to use it that much in that band (laughs).”
A music video was filmed to accompany ‘Soldierhead’ on December 15th, 2012. “We went into this old factory,” the four-stringer remembers. “It was really pretty crazy, man. It was an amazing set; I think it would’ve taken Hollywood a long time to build this set. We just kind of cleaned it up a little bit, and set up all the gear ready inside with all of the pipes and machines. It was pretty cool, a lot of energy. It’s a very natural kind of video, a performance video. It’s not kind of any literal story, or extra actors, or any of that kind of thing. It’s just us playing our instruments in a cool setting, and that’s it. It’s very simple and very to the point, kind of like ‘One’ (from … And Justice For All). There’s no CGI, and there are no girls running around or any of that kind of bullshit. It’s just an honest black and white video, a video that’s me in your face singing that song and playing fast, everybody in a room standing, facing each other, and jamming. There’s no fanciness to it; I just want it to be my calling card heard around the world.
“I plan on having the ‘Soldierhead’ video available to everybody for free, for anybody that wants it. We will be selling it in HD on iTunes and everything if somebody wants a serious package, but I want everybody to have it. I want everybody to see and hear what this band is all about, and I think it’s the best five-minute calling card that we possibly could have. It’s the tip of the spear to pierce everybody, and make sure everybody knows what’s coming.”
A performance video was filmed “for purist reasons. You’ve gotta think about what’s happened, and I’m sure you’re up on your rock history enough on what’s happened, how big Metallica is, and the times and stuff. This isn’t something that I have to do. I don’t really have to do anything other than sit around and watch TV if I wanted to, but that’s not what I do. I played bass on The Black Album; it’s the biggest rock album, the biggest metal album ever, so I’m always gonna have something to eat. I’m covered, I’m good. I’m set (laughs), so it’s not for that. It’s because I love the music, and I wanna give it one more shot. That’s really what it comes down to.
“I wanna take it out to the people one more time, and remind them of how much fun we had. I wanna remind them of how much fun we can have, that life is short, and that we’ve gotta rock man. We’ve gotta rock while we’re alive, and we’ve gotta live while we’re living. We’ve gotta be loud, have fun together, scream shit out, and express ourselves. That’s what we gotta do, so I wanna try to take it out to everybody one more time. That’s the main reason. There’s really not a whole lot of budget constraints. If I wanted to make a video on the top of… You pick some place, man. The Empire State Building, or… Where are you calling from right now?”
“If I came down to your town and said ‘I wanna play at the most expensive place. I’m gonna set up all these monsters, and there’s gonna be Transformers walking through the street. That’s how I’m gonna make the video,’ I could do that. That’s not what I wanna spend my money on though. I wanna spend my money on guitars, on the tour, and on making the metal. I wanna spend my money on making music, and that kind of thing. That’s what I do. I always have, and from the money I made with Metallica I feed myself. I keep having clean, warm water, and I make music. Metallica paid for the Voivod records, Metallica paid for the Echobrain records, and Metallica paid for this record. It’s just the way it is.
“It’s the biggest band ever basically for heavy music, and I was in it for 15 years. It’s not a budgetary thing – it’s just that I wanted to keep it as real as I possibly could. I want everybody to see that I’m starting over in a way, even though I’ve done everything that I’ve done. I got into the Hall Of Fame (laughs) and all that stuff, but I’m still the same guy that started Flotsam. I’m the same guy that still likes that kind of music, that still plays bass like that. I’m still that guy, and I just wanna make sure that everybody knows it. If I doctored it up and made it all fancy and had monsters and all that shit, they wouldn’t be able to see that it’s just the real me.”
That “same guy that started Flotsam” is better known for his Metallica exploits, his songwriting endeavours on Flotsam And Jetsam’s Doomsday For The Deceiver perhaps unknown to most. The Newsted band is arguably an exercise in Jason proving his songwriting capabilities, an exercise in proving that he isn’t merely a bassist. “I’m saying that to myself, and that’s what I’m doing with this,” he confesses. “I’m saying it to myself. The original idea of this whole project wasn’t even going to be released to people at all. It was just that we were going to go into the studio. We had a good offer from a guy to go to do some music for next to nothing, and so we said ‘We’re gonna make new songs.’ We did that in October, and they came out so good that we were like ‘We should probably share these with people.’
“That’s why I decided to do a website and all these other things, to share it with everyone. It was really more to prove to myself that I could make this happen, and so now that it’s good enough I’ll share it with anybody who wants to hear it. I’m not really trying to prove anything to anybody else other than me though, actually (laughs). I don’t know if I have to prove anything to anybody else anymore, when I think about it. I’m really enjoying it again. I’m feeling that I have found the fountain of youth in heavy metal music. It keeps me young; my bones may be old, but I still have the same attitude in my heart that I’ve always had as far as… I wanna riff fast, man (laughs).”
‘Godsnake’ hearkens to one of the mainman’s central influences, meanwhile. “‘Godsnake’ is kind of a heavier track, more like Black Sabbath,” he reckons. “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.”
‘King Of The Underdogs’ is an anthemic number. “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,” Jason foresees. “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.”
The “underdog” in question is the composer himself. “I think it’s a personal thing like that,” he accepts. “If you read the lyrics there are two or three meanings to each song, but in that case it can go both ways. It’s almost like the tallest midget. Is he the winner because he’s the biggest midget? Or is he still just a midget? It’s that kind of thing. And if you’re the king of the underdogs, does that mean you’re the best of the worst? Or does that mean of those people who’re never expected to do anything, you’re the one who did the most? There are many different ways you can look at it. I might not be an underdog in a way because people are showing a lot of love, but I’m an underdog in the sense that I’m coming up from the underground and I’m trying to make it on my own from the roots. The underdog, that could be me. I do wanna be the king, so I guess that could all play in. I can rise from the underground as the underdog and be victorious, and be the king of the underdogs. It depends how you look at it.”
The birth of Newsted signals the dawn of a fresh chapter for Jason. “I’m definitely starting over in many ways, and I’m happy about that too,” he enthuses. “If I tried to ride on my past too much then that wouldn’t be right, and I think that’s maybe why I waited so long for this. It had to be the right time to do this, because people had to be ready for it. I’m reinventing myself a little bit only in the sense that people haven’t seen me for a little while, and I’m back. I’m still the same person that I always was with the same attitude so it’s still me, but I have to make a fresh start of it because the music has to still do its own thing. I don’t ever want to ride on what I did before. ‘Enter Sandman’ (from The Black Album) was great, but that was 20 years ago. What can I do now? It matters how tough I am now, doesn’t it? Nobody can take away what we did back then with The Black Album, but it matters right now what I can produce. That’s what I’m trying to do, once again prove to myself that I can do it. It really does come down to that, and I hope everybody else likes it.
In starting afresh, the bassist is arguably striving to prove he isn’t a has-been. “The only difference about that deal is I chose to do what I did,” he contemplates. “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, 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.
“I’m just saying that because I live, because I breathe, and because of the decisions I made when I made them – to leave Flotsam to join Metallica, and to leave Metallica so that they could survive. I made those decisions as a man, and I’m a bigger man than them because I was able to make those decisions. I have nothing against them or any of that kind of stuff, but I saved them twice and the fans of Metallica that don’t realise that. It’s just too bad for them, but that really is the truth though. If I had never left when I did, it would’ve imploded. The band would be gone.”
‘Skyscraper’’s riff originated in the Rock Star Supernova project. “I chose not to use the riff for ‘Skyscraper’ in the Supernova project because nobody showed any respect, and I’m really glad that I didn’t now,” Jason acknowledges. “In that camp, the same way we were talking about it, it’s exactly the opposite. That whole thing took place in Hollywood, the whole show and everything. In a place like that, all that people care about is getting the credit and the money for something. They only care about having their name real big on the back of the record, and getting the money for something that someone else did. I saw that right away in that band. ‘My song’s gotta be on there.’ ‘No, my song’s gotta be on there.’ ‘I want the publishing.’ ‘No, I want the publishing.’ ‘I want the money.’ I was like ‘I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna put my song on there to compete just because you guys want money, and besides, you’re not gonna play it good enough. You’re not gonna show it the justice it deserves.’ That’s basically what it was. I wrote the riff a long time ago, but I never used it because it was just too metal for that band.”
Though harbouring misgivings in retrospect, the rhythmist nonetheless remains on cordial terms with his former Rock Star Supernova bandmates. “I’m still friends with them,” he discloses. “I’m still friends with Tommy – I’m still friends with all of the people. They know this about me. I said all of these things right to their faces, so this is no secret or anything (laughs). It’s just that I come from a different place, and they come from a different place. That world that they come from is just false compared to ours. That’s what I think. I think that they’re posers compared to real metalheads, that’s all. When I played with Tommy, I enjoyed it very much. For the couple of hours that we actually played, the rhythm section – him on drums and me on bass – was pretty fucking tough. I mean, it sounded pretty tough, but we never got to focus on it because we always had a million other things to do. He could never just concentrate on a song with me, so that just frustrated me because that’s not the way I do things. If you come to practice then you focus on practice, and not have your phone on the drum set. It’s just ridiculous. I don’t have anything against them. They just run their lives differently than I do, and their professional careers differently than I do.”
One would assume that “ fakey, Hollywood stuff” like Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction (July 1987) or Mötley Crüe’s Shout At The Devil (September 1983) – to use Jason’s own words – aren’t present in his album collection. “Appetite For Destruction I definitely listened to when it came out, for sure,” he concedes. “It was a very, very impressive record. Shout At The Devil, not that much. The first Mötley record – Too Fast For Love (November 1981) – was early enough in time that I still listened to those riffs, but by the time I got to their second record I was already too metal to listen to Mötley any more (laughs).”
‘Skyscraper’’s heart lies in 70s metal / hard rock, the vocalist contends. “It has really big guitar riffs, like happy, upbeat rock ’n’ roll guitar riffs,” he critiques. “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.”
Recording sessions for consequential EP Metal took place in Central Valley, California, ‘Soldierhead’, ‘Godsnake’, ‘King Of The Underdogs’, and ‘Skyscraper’ embellishing the outing. “It’s a little, tiny farmhouse in the middle of a cornfield with an awesome studio inside, and nobody would ever know,” Jason imparts. “I actually watch the cars go by on the freeway, and I see these kids go by sometimes with long hair and stuff. I’m like ‘If they knew we were in here making this music, they would freak out,’ because we’re out in the middle of the country man. We’re in the middle of nowhere, and it’s so great for making music because there are no distractions. We can focus completely on the music, and I like it very much. It’s not a fancy place. It just gets the job done, just like us. We’re not fancy; we just get the job done.”
The name Metal isn’t open to confusion. “That’s right, yeah,” the frontman concurs. “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.”
Jason’s label Chophouse Records oversaw Metal’s issue, and will oversee subsequent Newsted offerings. “The final product – the album in May – will be distributed properly,” he explains. “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.”
Previous to Metal’s release, the four-stringer’s last issued output was May 2011 single ‘Out Of My Mind’. Charity single ‘Out Of My Mind’ was the debut from supergroup formation WhoCares, which additionally consisted of vocalist Ian Gillan (Deep Purple / ex-Black Sabbath), guitarist Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), guitarist Mikko Lindström (HIM), drummer Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden / ex-Trust), and late keyboardist Jon Lord (ex-Deep Purple) during that incarnation. “I got the call from Tony, and I was in the mountains in Montana,” Jason recalls. “There was this British voice over the phone asking me to play on the song. I thought it was somebody playing a prank on me, but it wasn’t. He asked if I would play on a song, and I was really pretty amazed that he knew my name let alone that he asked me to play bass. That was a very surreal, special moment for a heavy metal kid, your great teacher calling and saying ‘Okay, I wanna see what you’ve learned now.’ The teacher’s calling you. What will the student play? It really felt like that very much. It was just an honour, man. You can imagine. It was just a very, very special feeling. I’m honoured.”
Metal stylings will be a common thread throughout future Newsted material. “It’s just the old school stuff, it really is man,” the composer reiterates. “It’s just that. On those particular four songs, it’s just what it is. It’s straight ahead metal; some of it’s a little bit slower and some of it’s faster, but it’s all heavy. I’ll be sharing a little bit of different styles as we go through this thing to make the final album, but it’ll all be heavy music. We’ve got a couple of months, so there are gonna be more songs coming up. We’re working on the second batch right now, so I can’t really say much about these newest ones other than they’re gonna come later. They’ll be the two of the one-two punch. That’s all that I can really tell you right now, because it’s too early to say too much. I’ve gotta keep it in check (laughs).”
Touring plans lie in the pipeline. “We have a lot of managers, promoters and things that have come to try to help us, so we’re trying to work out some things for the festivals in 2013 and get some proper shows,” Jason informs. “I’m only gonna take it out if it’s worth it, if it makes it look good. If there are some good shows and some good gigs offered, I’ll play for the people.”
On March 4th, 2013, the bassist will reach the milestone of a 50th birthday. “I’m gonna be the strongest 50 that anybody was, man,” he reasons. “I’m gonna be faster and tougher and stronger than I was at 40, so that’s where it’s at. The calendar goes by and that’s all great and everything, but in my heart I am still a 19-year-old metalhead. That’s kind of how it is, and I just try to deal with… I’ve had some trouble with my shoulders over the last decade. I’ve had surgery, surgery, surgery, and therapy, therapy, therapy, and painkillers, painkillers, painkillers, and all that shit. I had three surgeries; the first one was in 2004, the second one was in 2005, and the third one was in 2006. I did the Rock Star Supernova project in between surgeries (laughs). Now I’m back. It took a long time for me to come down to earth from Metallica, and to get my neck and shoulders back in action. I had to work for a long, long time to build my muscles back again.”
Metal was released digitally on January 8th, 2013 and subsequently in CD format on the 15th, all via Chophouse Records.
Interview published in January 2013.