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‘We were snotty as hell… and we f*cking crushed it’: Jason Newsted on how The Black Album changed the world

Metallica
(Image credit: Niels van Iperen/Getty Images)

Jason Newsted has shared his thoughts on the world-conquering success of Metallica’s self-titled ‘Black Album’ in a new interview to mark its 30th anniversary.

“Thirty years on, how many thousands of bands of all languages, shapes, colours, dialects have been influenced by what we did?” he muses in Kerrang! “AC/DC and Iron Maiden took down the walls, taking this music to places it had never been. That gave us the chance and we fucking crushed it.” 

As a long-time Metallica fan himself, Newsted admits that he initially had his own concerns when Bon Jovi/Motley Crue producer Bob Rock was mooted to produce the band’s fifth album, following on from three successful collaborations with Flemming Rasmussen on Ride The Lightning, Master Of Puppets and And Justice For All.

“Were these planets going to collide or were they going to align?” adds Jason of the move to Bob Rock. “Justice… sold a bunch of records, we did really well on the tour, so we all became probably multi-millionaires in that 19 or 20 months. So we’re coming in as those people, snotty as hell already and real uppity and real confident about ourselves. But he’s him and he already has his pedigree too. There’s a whole bunch of cats who can say, ‘I can make it sound like this’ and  ‘You’re gonna be the biggest next damn thing’, but there are very few people that can come through on that.”

Ultimately, the new creative partnership struck gold, with Rock gaining the quartet’s trust and even drawing the group’s first genuine love song from frontman James Hetfield. For Newsted, Nothing Else Matters - criticised by certain fans as evidence that Metallica had gone ‘soft” - served as the key gateway / entry point for a whole new raft of fans.

“That soft song blows down all the walls for Battery and Fight Fire With Fire to get through and penetrate up to those people,” he reflects. “Without the soft song, could it have happened? Without the soft song, would we be talking about the relevance of all this now? Without the soft song would we have been able to take the 
‘RAARGH!’ to the world in the way that we did?”

“There was not too much a conscious thing about, ‘Oh no, what is the backlash going to be?’ [It was] just: ‘What can be accomplished now?’”

A expanded version of ‘The Black Album’ is set for release on September 10. 

The new issue of Classic Rock, which celebrates 30 years of Metallica's seminal Black Album album with new interviews and insights, is on sale now