Ex-METALLICA Bassist JASON NEWSTED Defends LARS ULRICH: 'Do Not Talk S*** About That Guy'
May 8, 2023
During an appearance on the latest episode of the "Let There Be Talk" podcast with rock and roll comedian Dean Delray, former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted defended Lars Ulrich against people's criticism of his drumming abilities as well as his role in METALLICA's lawsuit against Napster in 2000. Although the case was settled out of court, more than 300,000 users were banned from the pioneering music file-sharing service as a result and METALLICA's image took a tremendous beating in the eyes of music fans.
Speaking about the fact that Lars is often dismissed as an average drummer whose skills are eclipsed by so many other lesser-known musicians, Jason said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Anybody that says that is a fucking idiot. They have no idea what they're talking about. The depth of this guy, his foresight, his comprehension of what the hell was going on when he was 21, 22, 23. Seriously?
"So if he can't play the same fill as Dave Lombardo or whoever the fuck you pick for today, so what?" he continued. "Look at the scoreboard, motherfucker. Do not talk shit about that guy. He's way ahead of you in most things, I promise you that — I promise you. If we wouldn't have had him and his ability to anticipate, to predict, to know geography, to understand what country and what city and what did what at what time and all this stuff, no way METALLICA would be what they were. No way! So you need to get ahold of yourselves because there's way more to it than just being able to hit a snare drum.
"The demand [on the musicians] back when Jimi Hendrix was playing and BLACK SABBATH started touring or whatever, the band came out, smoked some hash, played the songs, got paid a little bit, had some beers, chased a girl, went on their way. That filled their whole plate. There was a 'Paranoid' video that they agreed to do for one second; they put a bunch of oil behind them or whatever. That [would have taken no more than] a couple of hours in his day. Now, or even — shit — 20-something years ago, or 30 perhaps, that much of the plate right there would be filled with the things we just spoke of: you learned your instrument, you played in tune, you tried to sing, you remember what's coming next and memorize your shit. And then this chunk is the videos, and then this chunk is the interviews, and then that chunk is that thing, then that chunk is that thing, that chunk is meetings, that chunk is lawyers, that chunk is depositions. And then you've got that time for your wife. That's what's real.
"So if anybody wants to talk about, 'Oh, yeah, I got this. I could do that. Could you? Could you, really? I don't think so, man."
Newsted was METALLICA's third bassist, following Ron McGovney and the late Cliff Burton. Robert Trujillo took over in 2003 after Newsted's exit.
Newsted's exit from METALLICA was documented in the band's 2004 documentary, "Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster", which followed the members of the group through the three most turbulent years of their long career, during which they battled through addiction, lineup changes, fan backlash, personal turmoil and the near-disintegration of the group while making their "St. Anger" album.
During a fall 2021 chat with Apple Music's Zane Lowe, Ulrich opened up about Newsted decision to leave the band more than 20 years ago.
"If you think about it, Jason is the only member of METALLICA who's ever left willingly, and that in itself is a statistic," Lars said. "And the resentment from James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] and I was just so... [We felt like] you can't do that. You can only leave if we want you to leave. And then we weren't equipped at the time to do a deep dive into why he was leaving. And so, of course, now you can see 20 years later, it makes complete sense.
"We write the songs; we make the decisions; we do all of it," Lars continued. "You have no creative outlet in this band; you have no creative voice. And then when you go and do something that gives you satisfaction and a way for you to express yourself to the rest of the world, then we get fucking pissed at you. And then that resentment then goes to you leaving the band. I mean, that's kind of Psychiatry 101 here. But we weren't equipped to see that side of it. Twenty years later, so now it makes complete sense."
Ulrich added: "Jason gave 14 years — every day, every performance, he was there always... I mean, we always used to joke. It's, like, 'He's so fired up. Come on, dude. Slow down.' He was the fucking first guy in and the last guy out. He was signing autographs when we were driving by waving on the way out of the buildings. I mean, he really was. And I now [am] finally equipped to appreciate every moment that he gave. And we have, I think, so much respect for each other now, so much appreciation. Ten years ago, when we did the 30th anniversaries, when he came up and played four nights with us at the four Fillmore shows, played two nights with us, seeing Rob and him together up there, that felt like it was the beginning of the thawing of where we are now. But he's been a very integral part of the [Black Album] reissue and the re-release and has done interviews and been very, very helpful. He did the unboxing of the box for the cameras and the whole thing. I mean, he's been so gracious."
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