Most Metallica fans were shocked when the announcement was made in 2001 that bassist Jason Newsted was leaving Metallica. The explanation at the time, that Newsted had injured his body (presumably his neck) from playing metal, seemed legitimate. However, it didn’t take long for rumors to abound that there was more to his departure from Metallica than just physical wear and tear.
A few months and a few thousand rumors later, the truth about Jason’s rift with Metallica front man James Hetfield started to become a bit more clear, until finally Jason revealed all in an interview with Playboy.
In that interview, Jason gave more substantial reasons why he had left Metallica. Jason had been working on a side project with a band called Echobrain, and had planned to help them obtain a record deal with the help of Metallica’s management, Q-Prime. Newsted claims that Metallica’s management was all about it, until they had a closed door conversation with James Hetfield. When Metallica management came out of that meeting, they squashed any and all possible deals with Newsted and his new band. Essentially, Hetfield didn’t want anyone in the band doing something outside of Metallica that might have a detrimental effect on the band.
It was too much for Newsted. The bassist promptly packed his bags and left Metallica after being with them for almost 14 years.
In the years since Newsted’s departure, Hetfield himself has admitted he was wrong. James has said that his need to make sure that nothing hurt Metallica, whether it was a valid threat or not, had him squeezing things to death, a sentiment he gave lyric to in the 2003 St. Anger song, “All Within My Hands.”
Enter Metallica’s new bass player, Robert Trujillo. Robert came to Metallica with an extremely well crafted resume. With major roles in Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Groove, and a stint playing with Ozzy, no one could question Robert’s metal pedigree. What’s interesting to note is that since being made a member in early 2003, Trujillo has now been in Metallica longer than Newsted was.
Recently, Jason was asked by Ultimate Guitar just what he thought of Metallica’s latest album, Hardwired… to Self Destruct. You’d think with all the bad blood between Jason and Metallica in the past that the former Metallica bassist’s review might be less than enthusiastic, but on first glance, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“[The album] is a bit different than the other efforts that led up to it. Robert’s a great f****** bass player and he’s always been a great bass player. This last [album], I feel they’ve kinda come back into stride and there’s something of substance here.”
Following that praise of Metallica’s latest album, Hardwired… to Self Destruct, however, Jason did provide some criticism of Trujillo’s bass playing.
“If you don’t play with a pick – this is where I’m gonna swing heavy, and I’ve always got crazy pushback because of not playing with my fingers as a bass player – look at the scoreboard… When it comes to playing with a pick and the aggression and tone that can come from the attack, you can’t get that with fingers. There are a lot of places you can do with fingers that you can’t do with a pick as well and I appreciate that… ‘Dude, try a pick for a minute. For 10 seconds, play it with a pick so you can get the teeth you want.’
Throughout his years with Metallica, Newsted always played his bass with a pick. Some younger Metallica fans might be surprised to learn that when Jason first joined the group, there was some blow back concerning Newsted’s playing style because Metallica’s first bass player, Cliff Burton, had played with his fingers.
Starting in May, Metallica — featuring Robert Trujillo on bass — will begin a North American stadium tour.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]