JASON NEWSTED: I Saved METALLICA Twice

Czech Republic's Muzikus.cz recently conducted an interview with former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted. You can now listen to the chat in three parts below.

Speaking about his decision to leave METALLICA in 2001, Jason said: "I don't know if this is selfish, and anybody can take it the way they want, or maybe it's egotistical — I'm not sure — but I truly feel that I saved [METALLICA] in 1986 by being the right choice [to replace late METALLICA bassist] Cliff Burton] and being able to take all the shit [from the other guys in the band]… and take all the good, too. And I also saved their band 12 years ago by stepping aside and letting them carry on with what they wanted to carry on with.

"I was not able to be on the same page with them anymore; they were taking too much time away from the band. We hadn't plugged in our amps for months and months and months by the time that I made the decision and called the meeting to talk to them. There had been so much distraction from actually playing the metal that I couldn't take it anymore. I was busy with my other project — I already started recording. I was already going forward with another project that I was gonna do a worldwide release with, because they weren't spending any time playing any music."

He continued: "It's great to [spend time with] your family, and it's great to do all those things, but METALLICA is still a fucking priority, and it always was a priority for me. And I think that, over time, it became not just a priority for them. It was always, and my band is still right now the priority for me — even though I have [other things] going on, it's still what I put first. And anybody around me, anybody in my circle, [like] my wife, or anyone, knows that that's coming first. And I always put METALLICA first. When those guys stopped putting it first all the time — like we all used to do together — it changed things for me. They weren't able to give the same amount of time to play at volume and remember why we were doing this.

"When we played loud together, it transcended everything — all the rest of the world went away, all the issues, all the shit. When we went loud, nothing existed except our power.

"In August of 2000, when we stopped playing live, James [Hetfield, METALLICA guitarist/vocalist] had injured himself — he couldn't be the same player, he had to wear his guitar different, he couldn't stand at the mic the same, it was a different approach on things. He wasn't spending as much time on music because of life, and I understand that — I don't have anything against that. But if you're committed to having this thing, this giant fucking thing that we worked so hard for to be the priority, if all of a sudden other things are more important than that, I can't do it. It's got to be the priority the whole fucking time. And it was for me, but it wasn't for them. Ultimately, at that time in our career, I had to step off, because I had things to do; I had music to play and share with people, and they had a different vision of how they were gonna go about things at that point.

"James was in a serious emotional and [alcohol-abuse] trouble, and I knew that. And I had to step off. And when I stepped off, I do believe that was the catalyst for him to realize that there was trouble. 'Cause I was always his brother. Dressing-room-wise, Kirk [Hammett, guitar] and Lars [Ulrich, drums] [always shared a] dressing room, James and Jason [shared the other] dressing room — for years. We were brothers. We were like-minded. We liked trucks, we liked guns, we liked the outdoors, we liked the mountains. We were like-minded people. We are brothers — strong brothers, like that. I mean, my family took James on as a family member. My mom sent… my mom probably still sends him birthday cards. We were that close. So when that kind of thing comes about where you don't have that same commitment anymore, or whether I'm misreading it or not, but we weren't committed the same way that we had been in the past, and I just wasn't feeling it; it wasn't right. And I was pretty well fucked up on some substances at that point too. So nobody was in their right mind.

"We should have kind of… Like Lars said awhile ago, we didn't take any time to assess the mental stability of the members of the band and the individuals. After so much hard work and not being home for 10 years, pushing and pushing and pushing it to be the biggest thing ever, we forgot about everything else. And it makes people unstable. And if we sat down and actually addressed people's mental issues… and I was addicted to painkillers and James was all drunk… It was a mess. If we would have addressed it as people instead of bringing in an outsider, then we could have probably done it. But because of what happened, and what transpired, and the managers bringing in an outsider and trying to fix it, and all that kind of shit, I was not gonna be a part of that."

Interview (audio) part 1:

Interview (audio) part 2:

Interview (audio) part 3:

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