JAMES HETFIELD: 'The Door Is NOT Open' For JASON To Rejoin METALLICA

METALLICA guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield has finally put an end to the speculation that former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted may one day rejoin the group, saying that the "the door is not open" for a reunion with Newsted and insisting the remaining three members of the group "have grown to such a place" since Jason's departure "that we don't think it's feasible" for him to come back to the band. Speaking to California radio station 92 KSJO following Wednesday's press conference in Los Angeles to announce the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003, Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett and drummer Lars Ulrich touched upon a number of topics, including the ongoing bassist search, the group's upcoming album (titled "St. Anger", due on June 10) and the decision to team up with LINKIN PARK and LIMP BIZKIT for what is certain to be one of the most successful and controversial touring packages of the last few years.

The following are some of the more interesting tidbits from the KSJO interview (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On the possibility of Jason coming back to the band:

James: "I like the [use of the] word 'friend' [in reference to Jason], 'cause he is still our friend, and we want that to remain. I think to remain friends, we have to be honest with each other, and I have to say that the door is not open [for him to rejoin METALLICA]. We've grown to such a place that we don't think it's feasible, we don't think it's actually a reality that could happen. We'd love to keep in contact with him and make sure that things stay real, we don't want the press crap that goes on, we want the divorce to be healthy, we want each person to feel good about what they hear and what they express and to be able to get it out right. It's interesting that he said [in interviews following his departure from the group] for me to come and call him [if I wanted him to come back]. I don't know if I was the other two guys if I would be interested in that."

Kirk: "Jason left the band. We didn't throw him out. He quit, and he made that decision unilaterally, without any of our input."

James: "…in front of all three of us."

Lars: "We asked him to reconsider…"

Kirk: "…numerous times"

Lars: "…and he wouldn't."

James: "I don't feel Jason was happy in METALLICA. And maybe he's forgotten some of that. Maybe a lot of the glamorous parts are missing from his life now. And maybe it's just reality kind of really sinking in now. And we wanna help him through that."

On the ongoing bassist search:

Kirk: "There is not someone who we can say we who it is. We don't have anyone."

Lars: "We started the process a month or two ago. We kind of had this thing that we had decided that we were not even gonna go there until the record was done. And then in a moment of clarity, we realized maybe that wasn't the smartest thing, that maybe we should incorporate it into the process as we're going along. So we had a couple of cats through the door — some great people, people we know, people we respect. We are going to the next step now and getting a little deeper into revisiting with some of these guys and stuff like that."

On the upcoming album:

Lars: "I don't like the phrase 'going back,' because this is not going back to anything, this is taking a step forward once again, but maybe… You know, if you really need to go into analogies, you could maybe even look at it like you take so many steps forward that you end up sort of coming back full circle — if you have to put the word 'back' in there — that you go in a circle and then you sort of at some point pass through an area that you've been. We spent a lot of years continuing to reap the harvest of the luxury of the success that we've had, which was that we continued to go off and explore different things to see what else was under the next stone, and what was under this stone, and what's over here, and what happens if you put this guitar sound, and what happens if you do this, and all this type of stuff, and when you go on that kind of a journey, the interesting thing is that at some point you come back through an area you've already been through, and at some point — about 3-4 months ago — we found ourselves passing through an area of very high levels of aggression, very fast songs, a lot of dynamics — fast, slow, fast, slow, up, down, blah blah blah — and when we passed through that musical territory, we felt very comfortable and it was really nice to be there again. And we started… Instead of continuing to sort of chase other things to do, we sort of [said], 'Let's hang out here for a while and see what happens,' 'cause it was very comfortable. And now we have a bunch of songs that definitely are a step forward, but bringing some of the elements that we have played with before into it."

On how the new album title ("St. Anger") came about:

James: "Where did it come from? I don't know… It kind of popped… I guess it's very contrast-like — [the words] 'saint' and 'anger', they don't really belong together — and I guess some of the stuff I've learned in rehab about expressing feelings and things and anger... In my household [growing up], [this] was absolutely NOT one of those things that was allowed or was at least addressed — it was shoved away. And being the 39-year-old angry teenager, I'm really kind of tired of being that. So the song basically — there's a song called 'St. Anger' as well — the whole thing is kind of addressing anger in a healthy way, and how you can get that out without being violent about it."

On the change in James' lifestyle since coming out of rehab:

James: "It's a work in progress 'till I'm done, or 'till I'm chosen to be done. It's a way of life now, and it's treating me really good. And it's a whole new set of open eyes."

On what it's going to be like to tour without drinking and partying like in the early days:

James: "Yeah, that is stuff that I… It was ricocheting around in my brain from the first day — fear that I couldn't do it [tour] again [without resorting to drinking] or whatever. There was some major breakthroughs after Jason left that we had to… We had to get down to bare bones in this band again and see why we were doing this, how we were gonna do this, and we rebuilt our… I guess 'machine', you'd call it, or addressed METALLICA as an entity. There was a lot of shedding of old stuff and rebuilding. Individually and as a group. We've incorporated our families… METALLICA has always been a family, we've incorporated our families more into this as well. It's gonna be a fun way to tour now, I think, instead of wasting time doing stuff that's not good for me."

On Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003:

Kirk: "It's more we wanna get a wider range of music going. And we picked these bands because we thought they would gel well with what we're doing musically — it's similar, in certain respects, to what we do and where we're coming from. We just thought it would be great to hook up with these guys. Really, it doesn't have that much to do with demographics at all."

Lars: "I think you've gotta look at one thing. It's like, the premise is to bring a bunch of headlining bands together — give kids the opportunity to see headline bands play together. [It's gonna be] full sets, full production… I have a lot of respect for LINKIN PARK and a lot of respect for LIMP BIZKIT. If you're gonna go out and do a headlining thing with two other bands that can do it, then that's where you're gonna go. 'Cause it's not METALLICA and four support acts. Like I said, the main thing is about respect, and I have a lot of respect for both of those bands. So I think it's a really cool thing, because it brings together a bunch of different musical things, and I think we've always tried — whether it was five years ago or 10 years ago, or 15 years ago — to bring other bands with us that we respected and brought another element of music other than our own."

On LIMP BIZKIT:

Lars: "I have a lot of respect for [LIMP BIZKIT frontman Fred Durst]. A lot of people are already starting to, 'Hey, you guys were on opposite sides of the Napster…' Who gives a shit? I mean, I have a lot respect for him for standing up for his side, in the same way that I know he has respect for me. Me and him have had our talks and settled our issues, and I know… I really like LIMP BIZKIT. I mean, I've said it for years — I don't know if anyone actually hears it — but I think LIMP BIZKIT are an awesome band. In terms of the rap-rock bands, or ANY bands out there, I think they really are truly among the best. You know, the drummer, John Otto, is awesome. And I [have] a lot of respect for what [Fred]'s been able to do. A lot of people get turned off by his enthusiasm and his tenacity, and I guess maybe the reason I respect it a lot is that sometimes I see elements of him in me, or see some of my own elements [in him] — just about the tenacity and the energy and the kind of 'grrrrrr…', that whole thing. I think I'm starting to calm down, I'm a few years older, but I recognize some of his energy in when I think back on myself ten years ago, and I really identify with it."

To hear an audio of the entire interview, click here. Meanwhile, more photos from the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003 press conference have been posted at this location.

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