Jason Newsted Talks Bob Rock, Devin Townsend, & Metallica’s Black Album: “Sandman, I thought, was kinda corny, honestly” – INTERVIEW

Metal Hammer: Ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted looks back on the highs and lows of his epic career.

You can read more from this interview @ this location. An excerpt from the conversation has been provided below.

Did you feel like you had an ally in Bob Rock when you were recording the Black Album?

“I don’t think I ever earned his respect like he had for James and Lars – because of what they had achieved, and they were writing the cheques – but I think he was firing on all cylinders. I wanted to get his respect, to show him I knew what I was doing.

I brought in a tenth of my bass collection, ‘Hey, let’s try this one or this one,’ sort of showing off a little, because you get told that this is the way to be a proper musician, where actually it’s the opposite. He knew that one bass was malleable, and we could get every sound out of it. I started messing with multi-string; he supported me in the way of tough love. He already had five or six kids, and none of us had any kids at that point; he was just adding to his brood. We were just kids, man!”

Did any of you guys realize you were sitting on something special back then, when the record was being made?

“I’m going to go back to Sad But True, because that’s my highlight of the whole project, because of the weight. I struggled with Nothing Else Matters; I knew it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – it was undeniable – but I was kinda scared of it, to be honest, because I still wanted ‘CRUNCH!’ Sandman, I thought, was kinda corny, honestly.

The beautiful thing was that we all sat in the room together and played it out; 70 takes of Nothing Else Matters. After a while, you’re too close to it. ‘How much more delicate can I make it?’ It’s crazy I’ve just realised this: our softest song ever took down the biggest walls to allow our hardest songs ever to penetrate the world. When it was No. 1 in 35 countries in one week, and seven of those countries we hadn’t even been to yet? Dude, that doesn’t happen to a band who go ‘Die! Die!’ most of the time.”

Tell us about the IR8 stuff with Devin Townsend. That’s where the problems with Metallica started, right?

“This was the very origins. I had just established the Chophouse in ’92, and by ’94 we had all the gear. Devin came down at the age of about 22 and was an absolute fucking maniac… dude, an hour-and-a-half of sleep a day for a whole week! And every time he would pick up a guitar you get, ‘Widdle widdle widdle,’ and you’re like, ‘Dude, where in the hell did that come from?! Now play it backwards!’

It was the first real project we took time to track in the Chophouse. It’s just drums and bass, Devin doing some mad guitar solo over the top, I go in and scream the vocal – done. Raw production, but an incredible accomplishment, because I always wanted my own studio. “The guys got wind of it and Lars said, ‘You gotta come up to the house.’

I didn’t really know what it was for, so I take my bass and go up there: ‘What’s up, guys?’ ‘Dude, you know you’re in Metallica now, don’t you? You can’t just be making music and sending out tapes to whatever fucker with whichever fucker. You do understand that, right?’ ‘Oh!’ I didn’t realize at all! I didn’t know about the politics; I was just sharing some metal with my friends! I pretty much broke down on that day in front of Lars and James. I was like, ‘I’m sorry, it won’t happen again!’ And that was the first time.”

You admitted to us that you didn’t feel satisfied by being in Metallica at that time. Do you remember that quote?

“I’m proud of myself! That’s perfect! Absolutely, that is what is still real for me, and I think it was throughout the 90s. After the Black Album tour, we had some money, but it was a totally different direction for me. I liked playing the songs and I could raise myself up for the people to play the songs for them. But Enter Sandman for the 1,000th time… it kinda wears on you.

I wanted to be that person who I knew myself to be on and offstage with Metallica. When they saw me, they knew they were getting everything, every fucking ounce of sweat left on that stage. The reason they were getting that, and the way I was able to do that, was because of the wacky music that I was playing offstage with my friends.”

You can read more from this interview @ this location.