Former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted recently answered a number of questions for the readers of Guitar World magazine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Q: "Doomsday For The Deceiver" is amazing! What was the experience like recording that with FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, compared to METALLICA on "…And Justice For All"?
Newsted: The entire "Doomsday" LP was recorded, mixed and mastered in five days for $5,000. That's the main difference right there. [laughs] Everybody just went in and they played their parts, in tune or out of tune, as you can hear. It was about the feeling. And the charisma carried us. In METALLICA, it became very much "meticula" after a while. By the time we got around to the Black Album, we started learning from [producer] Bob Rock's microscope thing and making everything as perfect as possible. That's the polar opposite of a FLOTSAM album.
Q: You have a writing credit on the Black Album ["My Friend of Misery"], which is one of the best-selling records of all time. Do the residuals from that alone pay your mortgage?
Newsted: Well, that's kind of a personal question. I don't really know what to say. [laughs] I think you're being jokey, so I'll give it right back. My answer is: I've been able to do what I want to do when I want to do it for 20 years. [laughs]
Q: What's your favorite, and worst, onstage memory? — Cindy
Newsted: Worst is James [Hetfield] getting burnt [on August 8, 1992, from an onstage pyrotechnics accident]. No two ways about that. Getting pelted with shit onstage is difficult. But nothing compares to James blistering. And the best time onstage? There's been quite a few times. Playing the Grammys was pretty cool. When we were doing the dress rehearsals, I looked out and saw these poster boards in the seats with an 8x10 [photo] of the person who would be sitting there for the show: James Brown, Tom Petty, Buck Owens and Prince. And when we went out to actually play, they were all sitting there… and their skin is blowing back. It was such a proud moment. Afterward we saw James Brown backstage and he was just nodding his head and telling us we really knew how to take care of some business. Those are the best moments: when your heroes tip their hat to you, or even call you by your first name.
Q: You co-wrote "Blackened" off of "…And Justice for All", which I think is one of the greatest album openers of all time. What do you remember about how that song came together?
Newsted: Yeah, the main riff is mine. I wrote it on bass, though. I've never told this story before, and it warms me a bit. I'd only been in the band for a very short time. I was still in a little one-bedroom rented apartment. And James would come over to the house, like [we were] buddies. He'd come over for dinner. We'd hang out and play guitars on the couch. It's was pretty fucking dreamy for me. METALLICA was my favorite band. It was pretty surreal. I had a little four-track Tascam set up in the bedroom. So we went in there, and he's got a guitar and I've got a bass. I'm fucking around with this riff. And then he started playing along, and the song started forming right at that time. I'm sitting up in my chair, like, Holy shit, dude. This is something! That was the first thing we ever constructed together. And him going, "Dude, that riff's good enough to open our fucking album," really gave me a feeling of victory, because I looked up to him greatly, and still do to this day.
Read the entire question-and-answer session at Guitar World magazine.