JASON NEWSTED: 'It Took Me 12 Years To Come Back To Earth' After Leaving METALLICA

Former METALLICA and VOIVOD bassist Jason Newsted was interviewed on this past Friday's (November 16) edition of Eddie Trunk's "Friday Night Rocks" radio show on New York's Q104.3 FM. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On what promped him to launch his official web site, NewstedHeavyMetal.com, and release music under his own name after so many years:

Jason: "I've thought about this for a long time, putting my name on a project other than just coming up with a clever name, like ECHOBRAIN or PAPA WHEELIE or something. We have a lot of cool names for projects, but this is the first time with my name and really trying to get out to the people that I played for by the millions in the past with METALLICA. I think I've waited just long enough, and I think the people are ready, and I'm ready, so I'm gonna try to get some music together and see what I can do for some people. We'll see what comes about in the next couple of months here."

On what the project is going to be called:

Jason: "It'll be called Newsted Heavy Metal Music. Whatever it ends up being — if it's five songs, 20 songs, 50 songs… I don't even know what the heck I'm gonna do. I have so much music from over the years. I have a bunch of new stuff, I have so many mixes of projects with people — new players, young players, old-school players like myself — so I'm just trying to figure out exactly what I wanna unleash on everybody first. That's kind of what it's coming down to — the timing of things and how I wanna hit people with it, and which stuff [to release first]."

On how he plans to release his music:

Jason: "I see a couple of the old avenues still being there that will always be there in the purest form — making the vinyl and everybody having the special-edition vinyl to be able to read the lyrics, stuff like you and I loved the most, that's the closest to us that's the most endearing and the most personal. So that's always gonna be there and I never wanna dismiss that, so that will be percentage of it for the fans that really dig the real American kick-ass guitar music. So I wanna make sure that that part is there. And then the newest avenues that I'm just really now learning about as I expose myself to all this stuff… I saw a piece of one of ['That Metal Show' espisodes on VH1 Classic] and somebody talked about DOWN and some other bands doing four tracks at a time in EP form every few months, letting people have some fresh metal. I think that's a pretty good concept, a pretty good formula — I'm hip to that, [and] I'd like to warm up to that. Since it is new territory for me, I'm really open to that idea; I think it's a good way to spread stuff. Like today, [my official] web site has been up up there for 12 hours officially and there's been thousands and thousands of people from all over so many countries already saying, 'Let's come up with some tunes for us to listen to.' Back in the day, man, when I was tape-trading and working with FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, I had to put one tape at a time in an envelope with custom tags and I had to figure out how much it was to go to Ireland or Spain or wherever, man — one at a time. I had to go to the post office and mail it and I did it, and I did it very dilligently, and that's why FLOTSAM got to be where they were, and that's actually the very reason that I got the gig with METALLICA, because of all of those letters and my correspondence all over the world. When Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] called out and reached out to all of his contacts across the world, my name came out of everyone's mouth: 'This kid is organized.' That's why I got the gig — because I tape-trader and I was so committed to sharing the music. Now I can do that with one push of a button and it's a squillion people. I know about the labors and what it takes one at a time, and I'm not afraid to do that, but I know that I have the chance now, from all of my hard work for 30 years, I'm gonna be able to share [the music] with a bunch of people at once. Anybody that really gives a snot about the music and cares about what I'm doing, I wanna share with them. Everybody else: peace, man. There's room for everybody. Enjoy what you enjoy. It might not be for everybody, but the people that it's for, let's go get it, you know?!"

On whether he plans on embracing the social media full-on after leading such a reclusive life for the past decade:

Jason: "It's kind of two very diferrent sides of the same coin in the way that in all of my time with METALLICA, I went to every single pre-show and every single after-show. I might have missed literally four out of two thousands [after-]shows, and the only reason I did is because the kids' fingers and lips were turning blue and it was so cold, we couldn't go outside to sign for them. That was the only reason that I've ever been held back where I would ever not go and make those connections. So that's the part of me with the people, being fueled by their energy and the energy exchange and the love for the metal and being together with that. Everybody that knows anything about how I've run my game, run my life over time on a professional level [knows it was all about] that — the connection with the people, the eye-level thing, always giving somebody a minute. That was always my mantra: I can always give every one of these people one minute. There was weeks when [we were doing] the 'Black' album tour, we did 24 months in a row, or whatever the heck that thing was, with no stopping, there was five or seven or nine hundred or eleven hundred people every week that I would look in their eyes and shake their hand and give them one minute. And I always did that. Now, after I got out of METALLICA, there was all kinds of crazy, heavy emotions [I felt] that nobody knows about. And I'm the only guy on the planet that was in that band and I'm out of that band, but I'm still breathing. So I did a very serious, reclusive deal. I built a ranch in Montana in the center of a forest of millions of acres of nothing. That kind of thing where I just said, 'OK, screw it, man! I'm outta here.' I went that far opposite of my connection with the people. It took me 12 years to come back to earth, and here I am now. And my big, black boots are on the ground and I'm ready to go."

On how perfming with METALLICA in December 2011 at all four intimate shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the band's week-long celebration of its 30th anniversary as a group gave him the incentive to reconnect with the fans again:

Jason: "The initial thing of the obvious stimulation and the 'adrenaline starts to flow,' and all that kind of thing, that was just right there, palpable. [I was] with my boys again, everybody, looking in each other's guys, going to rehearsal and jamming that stuff loud again and feeling the wall of sound, and just 'Wow!', levitating right off the ground. Then I get to the show and what really did it, what really was the catalyst [for me getting the urge to reconnect with everyone] was the people. I had no idea what to expect when I got there, but the response from the fans… There was people from all over the world there at those shows. And in so many languages and so many accents and stuff, they're screaming, man. And I hadn't been to shows enough to realize… It used to be the lighters that show the appreciation, now it's the screens of the phones that show the appreciation. And as I look out there, when [Rob] Halford comes on, half the room's got the screens up, and when King Diamond comes on, a third of the room's got the sceens up. When Jason comes on the stage, every screen in the room is up in the sky and people are chanting. And I'm like, 'Holy crap, man!' I was so overwhelmingly pleasantly surprised that that just hit me. Like, 'Wow, you know what?! I might be able to do this again. The appreciation of the people can bring me back.' The reason why I ever freakin' did it and loved it so much to begin with is the thing that brings me back."

On the neck and back injuries he sustained banging his head every night onstage with METALLICA which contributed to his decision to leave the band:

Jason: "If you go back and look at those videos, like any of the live videos and stuff, oh my God — there's no wonder that it's the way it is; there's definitely some serious degeneration that's taken place in my vertebrae. I don't know how many people spun their head like that that early in the progress of all this. I'm not gonna take the blame or the credit for anybody doing it anymore these days, but I know I did my share. I've had three shoulder surgeries and going back and forth with them, kind of to fix everything up, so I've been in rehab for many, many years trying to get everything back together. So I'm a lot better than I was for the last, probably six or seven years, I'm a lot stronger. I've always retained my same fighting weight, I've kept myself fit in that way, so that's all cool. And I'm pretty close to the monster, and I think if I work on it a little bit, I can be the monster again."

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