Exklusiv intervju med Jason Newsted!
Jag har länge haft en dröm om att få intervjua Jason. Han har legat lågt sedan han lämnade Metallica 2001 och egentligen inte gjort så mycket väsen av sig.
Nu är han tillbaka med sitt band Newsted och uppdaterar på Facebook oftare än en 15-årig tjej som fotar sig själv i spegeln. Fyra låtar har sett dagens ljus på iTunes och det ska sammanlagt bli 11 stycken, vilka även kommer att släppas på cd och vinyl för alla oss konservativa skivköpare.
Tack vare David, som jobbar med Jason, fick jag möjligheten att ringa upp honom i Kalifornien och snacka om hans nya äventyr. Frågor om Metallica skulle hållas till ett minimum, men Jason verkade själv helt ok med att snacka om sitt gamla band.
Från början blev jag tilldelad 45 minuter, men tidpunkten funkade inte och samtalet kortades till 20 minuter och en annan dag. 20 minuter går fort och jag hade massor av frågor att ställa, men alla hann jag naturligtvis inte med. Tycker dock att det löste sig ganska bra ändå.
Hey, this is Niclas from Stockholm!
Jason Newsted: Hey, this is Jason from California. What are you doing?
Staying up late. It´s 11.30 pm here.
Jason Newsted. Ah, that´s a perfect time to talk, now that you´ve had a few drinks and you´re all mellowed out it should be fine.
Exactly. I read that the Fillmore shows (with Metallica) kinda worked as a catalyst for giving this a go. In what way?
Jason Newsted: Well, it was a year and a month ago at the Fillmore shows with Metallica and Lars had called me in October of last year and told me they were gonna do that thing. They were gonna have all the bands come like Armored Saint and King Diamond and all that stuff, so that was kinda exciting. I´d get a chance to see all the crew guys, basically the family that I left. See everybody after a long time and that was exciting to me. I said I´d come and jam and play some fast songs. He asked me to pick what songs I wanted to play and I said “Let´s pick the fastest ones and do those!”. I came and we did those. You know, I didn´t really know what to expect and that was the main thing. It was an unexpected, just mass joy. I don´t even know what to say. Just an overwhelming response of joy from the fans. When I came into the building at the Fillmore, it´s like an old theater where there´s a balcony at the top and on one side of the balcony they had the VIP section and you could see all the people that were up there like the Green Day cats and people playing. King Diamond was up there and Cliff Burton´s dad. Everybody´s just hanging around and the crowd is looking up and I walked into the VIP area, just walking along with my girl and somebody saw me from the floor and they started calling out my name. I was just walking along heading to the dressing room and they start chanting and I look down and the whole crowd has turned sideways and they´re chanting and my bro says “You should go over and just wave or something! You can´t leave them hanging.”, so I walk over and I put my hand on Ray Burton´s shoulder, he was sitting in a box seat there, and I wave to the people and they just went apeshit, man. I didn´t know what to expect to begin with, but that I really didn´t expect. I had no idea it was gonna be like that. I had only been in the building for like four or five minutes, so that´s how it started. The week kinda went on from there and each night that I went up to play another song, it got crazier and crazier. I was singing like “Battery, “Die, die, die!” and they´re singing along with me just like it used to be. The energy exchange and looking right in their eyes and you know it´s the real deal and they´re so for sure genuinely happy to see each other and I´m like “Holy crap! I don´t wanna be in Metallica anymore, but this could really happen. There´s enough people out there that give a shit and I think I can make this happen.”. About two days later, Mike Gilbert from Flotsam and Jetsom called me and asked me if I could help him with some lyrics for their new album and I´m like “Sure bro, I´m open to that.”. He´s been a long time friend and we wrote a lot of cool stuff together so “What have you got, man? Send me a couple of riffs and I´ll see if I can put some words to it.”. He sent me some stuff that were pretty good, kinda Slayer sounding chunkily, old school metal things, so I gave him some lyrics and some titles and stuff and they really liked it, so they kept a couple of those. Then it was like “Well, maybe we should jam a little bit?”. We had the 30th anniversary of Metallica and the 30th anniversary of Flotsam was two months later, February 10th of this year was 30 years for Flotsam, so we did a 30th anniversary jam and a 25th anniversary for the “Doomsday” thing and it all kinda fell into the same place. So the original band gets together in Phoenix and we play two different weekends. One weekend in January and one in February. We played the “Doomsday for the deceiver” in its entirety pretty much. The original band, standing in the room facing each other and just blasting like the old days and there was a lot of power. I had forgotten how good and fast those guys really were. Really fast and really challenging. I actually had to relearn the songs that I wrote back then and challenge myself like “Dude, who in the hell came up with this? How can you remember 14 parts in 5 minutes and why would you do that? Just to prove that you can?”. (laughs) I remembered this stuff and it was challenging but fun. There´s been so much that´s happened in their lives for the last 25 years and so much in my life and we´re really on different planets and different lifestyles and accomplishments and whatever, so it didn´t really feel right for a longevity thing. It was cool for what it was, so I said I was maybe gonna try something different. I had been trading off computer stuff for a long, long time and this year I finally got an iPhone, an iPad and all this stuff. I finally gave in and in the mean time I had discovered how cool “Garage band” was and thinking I used to carry four or five cases into a hotel room with a keyboard, a recording desk, a mixing desk and a blah, blah, blah and now I have it in my pocket. I took my guitar and started making songs and it just started happening and song after song started coming. It got to the point that in August of this year, I got my guys together that are playing with me now. I wrote all the tracks on “Garage band”, gave them a disc and said “Learn these parts!” and they came back and that´s what we´re recording now. We´re in our second batch of these songs and we´re gonna share 11 total of songs over the next six months. Four in this first batch and then five in the second batch and a couple in the last. We´re gonna do it digital, exclusively on iTunes on these first ones and the next ones in March will be iTunes also and then in May with the full product, it will be CD, vinyl and all that kinda stuff. That´s roughly what happened. A long answer but that was the story and that´s what happened over one year´s time. They inspired me to say “It´s actually possible there´s enough people that are respectful enough of the work I did in all the other bands and in Metallica too.
Absolutely! If you hadn´t done those shows, do you think you´d still have done something like Newsted or would you still have been under the radar so to speak?
Jason Newsted: I still would´ve continued to do what I do with my projects and my little fun stuff. I don´t really ever take that stuff too serious. This is the first thing I´ve taken seriously in a long, long time. Especially of my own projects. Of course I did Voivod seriously and all those things, but this is the first time with my own stuff. Papa Wheelie was an improv thing and we´ve done it for years and years. We did six shows last year just for fun, so that kinda lit it up a little bit, but I think my answer is that I would not be doing Newsted now if I hadn´t went to go play with Metallica. I would be doing a further Papa Wheelie thing because we recorded a whole live thing with proper mics and everything but that got put on the backburner when this thing came out. I probably would´ve followed through on that or any of the other nine projects that I have going at all times. Under the radar? Yeah, I might not be out there in the spotlight doing big stuff like I had in the past, but for my own self I´m still very, very busy and creating music all the time. I´m kinda excited about coming back into it and putting myself out there again for the exposure of the people. I´ve been away for a while on purpose, just to get myself back together. I still do my domestic life and I don´t wanna let it take over my life again. I still wanna have my balance with it, but it is something that I´m putting all my energy into now and I´m just excited to see what happens with these particular efforts and once again, in the same vein as being taken by surprise, a wonderful surprise, by the responses from the fans on the Facebook and Twitter stuff and so far from the iTunes stuff. The positive energy coming from around the globe. There was no way for me to know before and the realm that Metallica was in up until 2001 when I left, we had been taking the music to the people in every possible corner of the globe that you can and that will accept our music and then you shake their hands and look them in the eye and that´s how I know what they´re doing in that country. Now, fast forward 12 years and I can know of all these countries that I´ve never even heard of and people are able to get the music now and in all of your lifetime and my life time, the years we´ve got left, I couldn´t get CD´s to the middle of these places. Even if I walk there myself I wouldn´t be able to make it in time. The way that I push one button and share these 20 minutes of awesome metal with anybody that really cares because that´s all that really matters. I don´t wanna try to share it with anybody that doesn´t give a shit. If they like doom stuff, death metal or Taylor Swift, go ahead! There´s plenty of room for everybody. If you dig my stuff, dig my stuff and if you don´t dig it, move on! That´s all I´m asking, because I´m kinda too old to be fucking with all of the bullshit and I don´t really have to prove anything to anybody about nothing. (laughs) What do I do, really? Most Grammies of any metal bass player ever, Hall of fame. Where do you want me to go from here? So you didn´t like that song? Ok, I guess I better go work at the gas station then. (laughs)
I was listening to the four tracks on iTunes today and reading comments all over the internet and a word that kept coming up was “classic” and that there´s a classic metal feel to the songs. How would you describe the music yourself?
Jason Newsted: It is old school. My saying is you can only be old school if you´re old school, you know. You can buy a bullet belt, you can buy the tight black jeans and all those kinda things, but if you´re not old school, you´re not old school. It´s ok if you wanna be, I´ve got nothing against you, but you only can be if you are and I am. That´s what it is and that´s why I named it that because of the other music that I´ve played over time. All the diversity of the players, I don´t wanna make any confusion and I don´t want anybody to not know what´s happening. This is Newsted and it´s me and this is metal. There is no other thing that this is. This is metal! Any language that you speak around the world, you know those two words. If you like hard rock music, you know the word Newsted and you know the word metal, so that´s what I did and that´s kinda how it is now. I´m the only guy that walks the earth that was in Metallica and I´m still breathing and now I´m a fan again. I was a fan when I was in it and I´m a fan again, so I´m the only one. (laughs) I can really look at it in a really kinda crazy perspective. I think that in “Soldierhead”, some of the lyrics sounds like Hetfield on “Kill ém all”. When he was just a young man of 19 years old and that´s where his voice box had developed to, was that voice. Just that little thing like that and my voice box is young in this style of real singing. I can do the brutal stuff and I don´t have to prove that to anybody either and I´ve done that for years and I still can, but that´s not what I do in this band. In this band I sing and I´ve been developing my voice for 20 years, but I never got a chance to really sing with it. Now it´s a development and it´s a young voice and younger than I am because I´ve only been using this voice for a short time. That´s why it kinda sounds like a younger Hetfield, I think. I think it does sound like some lyrics are reminiscent of old Metallica.
How did you find the other two guys?
Jason Newsted: Yeah, I wanna talk about the other guys because it´s really important. The drummer´s name is Jesus Mendez JR and I´ve known him for at least a dozen years now. He started out as a local Metallica crew guy and we became friends then. He went on tour with Ecobrain as a drum tech and we´ve been playing music since that time, so for about 10 years we´ve been making music at the Chophouse. Mostly improvisational music but always metal and he brought in Jessie Fransworth who is the other guitar player and we´ve been playing together for about five years. They´ve been playing as a rhythm section for 10 years themselves and the three of us have been playing together for about five years. Jessie and I switch instruments back and forth. He plays some bass and I play some guitar and we switch back and forth on the record and in live performance. I do both now and I sing lead the whole time and play guitar and bass. He´s really kinda like our secret weapon. He´s had his own bands over time and he´s made his own records, underground records where he sings lead and all that kinda thing and he´s a very accomplished musician in his own right. They have enough experience in front of people and enough years playing to be professional hard working people. They only drink when we need to drink, you know what I mean? They´re not foolish and they don´t do drugs. It´s a very serious organization. I could´ve handpicked a supergroup. I could´ve picked out whatever the greatest metal player is that I wanted. I could´ve made that band and I´m sure that everybody would´ve said yes. I really doubt if I would´ve gotten any turn downs, but I don´t want people to come with their baggage. Peace to all of those guys and everything, but I don´t want that in this band and I don´t want it to be ex-member this, ex-member that or formerly from these nine bands that brings all this shit for all those bands. “Well, in our band we used to do this!”, “Well, in this band we fucking don´t!”. I don´t wanna have to deal with that thing. I mean, I´m not ashamed to say it. I´ve worked hard at what I´ve done. I wanna be the man now, I´m gonna be the man. I´m the man in this band, the king of the underdogs. (laughs) I´m the man in this band and the other guys are great musicians and equal or better players than me, but they need their chance and they deserve their chance and they´re willing to work very hard for it. They´re willing to support me as a friend and a player and that´s important. I can´t say that I´ve had that in every band that I´ve been in. That´s really, really important. We record as a three piece, but we´re gonna play live as a four piece and bring another guitar player in.
I was gonna ask you about the live thing. Any plans at all? Are you playing live this coming summer when everything is out or what´s the plan?
Jason Newsted: That is the plan right now. As you can imagine there´s quite a few agents and promoters coming out the wood work the last three days since the music got out. I am trying to make the right judgment and I think I´ve found the right people and their plans are to follow through with the songs I talked about and do some warm up shows, do some couple of special ones in the States and then do proper festival stuff for the summer, a European thing. I´ll take it to any place I possibly can take it and if they set me up with shows in the middle of wherever and as long as they´ve got power… I don´t have to do this. I mean, that´s kinda obvious. I do anything because I love it and I makes me feel alive and I do it because I wanna do it and it´s my purpose and it´s what I do best, so I just wanna try it one more time. The thing with Metallica, that we talked about at the beginning of this conversation, the catalyst of that was from that and for myself I have to give it one good shot. I have to give it one solid strong effort where I know I did my best and I tried to cover all the bases and I was honest with the fans again. All that stuff, and whatever it does is whatever it does. I do not have lofty expectations of this, I do not have any of that kinda thing. I´ve got a cool ass CD to play in my truck and it crushes. Anything after that is gravy. If people wanna buy it, if people wanna buy a t-shirt? Cool man! My boys and I made some cool music and that´s good enough for me because I don´t have to go out and sell a bunch of records to eat. I played bass on the "Black album" and I don´t think I have to say much more. I´ll be fine. (laughs)
Well, I think the world´s been waiting for Jason Newsted for a long time and it´s really cool that you´re back. I hope you one day make it back to Sweden to play a couple of shows.
Jason Newsted: Oh buddy, I gotta tell you man! Stockholm is just so good to me. Aahh, my brother… aahhh, god bless you guys! (laughs) I think you know what I mean. Just such wonderful memories of that place. For the shows too, but the people… man, just wonderful.
Good to hear. One final thing. Let´s just say that Rob Trujillo breaks his leg and they´re about to go on tour and they call you. Would you do it?
Jason Newsted: Aahhh, it kinda depends on the circumstances. God, I haven´t been asked that before. (sighs deeply) If they were cool and they were bros. Actually, here´s the word, if they were brofessional about it and if they came as my brothers and they were professional with the meeting and they called the meeting and they´re sitting there and looking me in the eye and the managers aren´t around and we´re doing this as we used to do every fucking thing, with just us and then the managers did what we told them to do… if it was like that again and the money was crazy, then I would consider it. I would consider it, but it would be only for that thing and it would to be absolutely delegated and it would have to be these 30 shows in these 45 days for this squillion dollars, then I would say most likely I would come and crush every fucker in my sight. But it has to be that. I love those guys and I always will and I will defend them to the end of time. I don´t dig it when people talk shit about them and I don´t dig it when they put them down about certain music they didn´t like that they did or whatever. Fuck those people! As soon as the people can put out a better album than Metallica, you let me know and I´ll listen to it, but until that time, just back off! I don´t come and tell you how shitty you´re doing your accountant job or whatever, you know what I mean. I don´t like that part, but I´ll always have respect for those guys because they gave me my chance, ok. They gave me my chance and I´ll never ever forget that. Now, we´ve had our differences over time but that shit is under the bridge a long time ago. The shit that has transpired in the last 10 years of the rumors stuff and “Oh, Jason got treated so bad. Poor fucking Jason.” and everything, it´s such shit! It´s so wrong and it´s not the truth and it really bothers me. I understand that it gets sensationalized and blah, blah, blah. What I try to say man is trainloads, trainloads of joy, accomplishments and wonderful experiences and one little, tiny fucking symbol full of shit. It was joyous and victorious and accomplishing things and setting the fucking standard, you know what I mean? People go “Oh, he got treated bad and he got hazed those first couple of times.”. No shit! You think they´re just gonna let any fucker come into the biggest band in the world? Hello! And people go “Oh, he was just a fan boy that got lucky.”, but could you maybe tell me one of the 52 people that auditioned that wasn´t a Metallica fan? The 52 that tried out for bass that wasn´t a Metallica fan? If you could find one in that bunch, I´d like to meet him! But any of those people that would´ve gotten the gig would´ve been a fan too. Come around to your senses, man! They had a big thing going and they knew they had a big thing going and they just lost their great teacher and friend, the guy that taught James how to play guitar harmonies. Do I need to say more? Come on! he taught him to play the guitar shit that he does now that made the magic of all the songs. The guy was just taken away from them and they throw some other guy in some 25 days later and it´s like “Oh, yeah! Let´s just be peachy and everything and here we go!”. Come on, man! If I was in their shoes I would´ve greased me a lot more than they did. People need to really get some perspective on that.
Right. Well, my time is up Jason. Thank you so much! It´s been an honor talking to you and it´s so good to have you back!
Jason Newsted: Thanks for your help and I´ll see you around!