An interview with Jason Newsted conducted by the Florida Daily Post in 2020 has surfaced online, and it finds Metallica’s former bassist offering some fascinating insights into both his time with the San Francisco metal superstars, and his life since walking away from the band following arguments with frontman James Hetfield.
One take-away from the interview, conducted in February last year, is Newsted’s admission that Metallica used to make fun of him for spending time with fans. Prefacing his comment by stating that he would “never talk a bad word about the guys”, who “gave me my chance and my life”, he says he was “ridiculed” for paying so much attention to Metallica fans during his time in the band.
“I was always with the fans,” Newsted admits. “Something back here told me I have to spend every minute I can with the people 'cause it's not always gonna be like this. And so I did; that was my thing. They made fun of me for how much time I spent with the fans. Really — they ridiculed me for how much time I spent with the fans.”
Newsted talks at some length about being plagued by ‘what if?’ thoughts after his departure from the band, confessing that he questioned his own decision for years afterwards, but ultimately concluded that he had made the correct call. He also admits that he no longer has "the physicality" to perform Metallica songs as he once did, having been forced to undergo surgery on both his shoulders after his exit.
"The surgeries kind of set me back,” he admitted. “I kept playing music the best that I could, and I haven't ever been able to come all the way back; I'm, like, 90-something percent full. I can't play the full Metallica stuff; I couldn't do the show anymore like that.
“As the times went by in the earlier years, [I kept asking myself] 'What if? What if? What it? What if? What it you had stayed?… And millions of people all had something to say about it. 'How in the hell could you do that? You're thowing away tens of millions of dollars? Why would you do that? Why would you step out of the biggest and best band of all time? What are you thinking?'"
"You don't know where I've been. But it took me a while to convince them… So, as I think about that 'What if? What if? What if?', it worked out exactly like it was supposed to. I'm not saying I could have planned it or anything like that. I've had a whole other two or three lifetimes since I was in that big thing that provided all of this for me.”