JASON NEWSTED On NEWSTED Project: 'It's Honest, Authentic, Old School' And There's 'No Cheating'
May 18, 2023
In a new interview with 98.7 The Gater's "The Jason & Franny Show", former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted spoke about his decision to reactivate his NEWSTED project for a May 20 concert at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Newsted, who plays bass and sings in the project, will be joined at the gig by original NEWSTED members Jesus Mendez Jr. (UNDERLORD) on drums and Jessie Farnsworth (UNDERLORD) on guitar, along with new guitarist Humberto Perez.
"We're very excited about [Humberto's addition to the band], because we have a little bit of new, fresh blood in the quartet," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "But Jessie and Jesus and myself have maybe 16 years together overall. Nothing can replace that kind of [chemistry]. So we started playing the heavy [stuff] again. It all came together. I just wanted to do this. I reached out to some people and they said Revolution Live was the place to take the gig. That's where all the cool bands [play]."
As for how NEWSTED is being billed for this weekend's concert, Jason said: "It's still 'NEWSTED Heavy Metal Music'. But it's 10 years later. We haven't really played together for 10 years, since the end of that tour in 2013."
According to Jason, NEWSTED will perform mostly "new songs of this metal project. But it only can be old school like that. Yes, that's what it is — it's honest, authentic, old school and [there's] no cheating."
Earlier in the month, Jason told the "Let There Be Talk" podcast with rock and roll comedian Dean Delray that the setlist for the Revolution Live concert will consist mostly of newer songs that NEWSTED fans have not heard before. Describing the material as "quite punk," he explained: "I put together this kind of MOTÖRHEAD-flavored thing about a year and a half ago and wrote these MOTÖRHEAD-flavored songs on bass as the first instrument. I took the main three Philthy Animal drum beats and just picked that one and make a song and pick that one and make a song, and go around a couple of times and write that many songs. So I wrote some fun songs. And now we mix those in with 'Soldierhead' and 'Heroic Dose' and the ones from the videos that people know, but mostly playing new songs. And they are way less complex — way less complex than FLOTSAM [AND JETSAM], METALLICA or even the [early stuff from] the NEWSTED band or ECHOBRAIN certainly. Just real punk rock, straight ahead like MOTÖRHEAD — a lot of fast stuff, a lot of double bass. Most of them are pretty quick. It's just fun, though — fun as fuck."
Back in February 2014, Newsted canceled an appearance at Australia's Soundwave festival with NEWSTED, citing "private and personal circumstances." The cancelation followed more than a year of intense touring and promotional activity surrounding the release of NEWSTED's "Metal" EP and follow-up album, "Heavy Metal Music", both of which were positively received by the critics and fans alike.
Asked by Delray if the Fort Lauderdale concert will be a one-off or if there are plans to do more shows or recording new music in the future with NEWSTED, Jason said: "This is gonna be the gauge. Is it possible for them to spring me back into it like they did [when I played with METALLICA in 2011 at the 30th-anniversary shows] at the Fillmore [in San Francisco]? This we will find out on May 20th, if they bring me back. If they bring me back, then they do, and if they don't, they don't, and here I am and I'm still happy. It's gonna be a crazy fucking show. We've been working hard on the songs, and I'm ready to give it."
Elaborating on his reasons for bringing NEWSTED back, Jason said: "It is actually only selfish — self-absorbed, self-centered, narcissistic, whatever this is right here [in my head], I have to prove to myself I can do it. I have to show myself that I can do that for these new songs that I have. I can take it to the people. I need that.
"I've played with THE CHOPHOUSE BAND for the last 10 years. I learned to play acoustic guitar, wrote some songs with violins and female singers and all this colorful, wonderful shit… I stepped out of that in February of this year, stepped back into the metal to see if I can still throw the shit down. And that's what it comes down to. So if I'm able to feel good about it, get that response back that this could be worth it again, cool… But the people will decide for me."
Last month, Jason told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" about how he arrived at the decision to bring back NEWSTED after a decade-long absence: "Kind of by happenstance and how we keep chasing it for fun. That's always been our thing — playing with whoever, whenever.
"About a year ago at this time, THE CHOPHOUSE BAND played at the Maltz Theatre in Jupiter, Florida, and Jesus Mendez, the drummer NEWSTED, and Jessie Farnsworth, the guitarist, guested at the end of that program. And they came over to HQ, and we jammed a bit on the side. And I think that seed got replanted. And so I had to finish with THE CHOPHOUSE BAND album, so I did that. And then [I] got these guys back together a couple of weeks ago again. And it was an epiphanous kind of trip — everybody smiling at each other and happy that we're still alive and everything. So it's really mostly for feeling alive and marking the tenth anniversary [of the formation of the band] and being brothers again."
As for why he abruptly stopped doing NEWSTED back in 2014, seemingly without an official explanation, Jason said: "I think I should have asked for more help — in 20/20 hindsight. I've worked hard to protect the legacy, as it were, I guess, if that's the term. It's important as an outsider, insider and otherwise, for the opportunity that I've been given. I try to be really careful about what moves I make. I really didn't want to coattail anything from anywhere. And I wanna do my own thing and try to do it with Chophouse Records and my own stuff and wear so many hats so many different times. I jumped into ECHOBRAIN project, which is something that was kind of already assembled. VOIVOD, obviously, was already very assembled. The NEWSTED band was a fresh thing. Since FLOTSAM [AND JETSAM], that's the only thing I've been a founder of since that time. I didn't wanna ask for help from the people I could have, and I think that's probably what it comes down to. It would have been better for my head and my overall [mental health] if I could have worn less hats and been able to concentrate more on my show."
STAIND guitarist Mike Mushok, who joined NEWSTED in March 2013 and played on "Heavy Metal Music", told "The Jasta Show" in a 2019 interview that Jason ultimately pulled the plug on the band because it wasn't financially viable for him to continue playing.
"I think he was happy with it [creatively]," Mike said. "I think the touring thing was hard. I don't think it was exactly what he expected it was going to be. But listen, it was fun. I really enjoyed him. I really enjoyed our time together and playing. We're still friends; we still communicate… We were playing smaller places, but the shows were always good; they were always fun. I just think it cost him a ton. 'Cause he was footing the bill for everything. So I think that at the end of the day, he's, like, 'I'm doing this 'cause of my passion for it and what I love, but I'm bleeding here.' We had this European tour that I think cost him a bunch."
Explaining that he is "really thankful" for the "great experience" of playing with Jason, Mike praised his former bandmate, saying: "Jason is a hard worker, man. We would practice 10 hours, he'd record the whole thing, and when we were done, he wouldn't walk out of the control — he'd sit there and listen to it. I'm, like, 'Dude! Come on, man.' I mean, there's a hard work — I'm a hard worker, but this guy was next level."
"Heavy Metal Music" sold nearly 8,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to land at position No. 40 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD was made available in August 2013 in North America via Chophouse Records/Collective Sounds and in Europe through Spinefarm Records.
Jason left METALLICA back in 2001 but was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, along with guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and the man who replaced him, bassist Robert Trujillo, in 2009.
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