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"You can't just be making music": Jason Newsted discusses the "origins" of his problems with Metallica

Metallica in 1996
(Image credit: Niels van Iperen/Getty Images)

Ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted is featured in the new issue of Metal Hammer, on sale tomorrow, discussing various talking points from his career including his early days with the band, his initial reactions to certain tracks from The Black Album and where things started to go sour with bandmates James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.

It's the first time the interview has been published in print, and it includes some interesting insight into how a brief collaboration with Devin Townsend led to some early tensions within the band, sowing the seeds for Jason's eventual departure in 2001.

"This was the very origins," says Jason, who had invited Devin to his personal studio, The Big Rigour Chophouse, in 1994. "I had just established the Chophouse in '92 and by '94 we had all the gear. Devin came down at the age of about 22 and was an absolute fucking maniac...dude, an hour-and-a-half of sleep a day for a whole week! And every time he would pick up a guitar you get, 'Widdle widdle widdle' and you're like, 'Dude, where in the hell did that come from?! Now play it backwards!'

"It was the first real project we took time to track in the Chophouse. It's just drum and bass, Devin doing some mad guitar solo over the top, I go in and scream the vocal - done. Raw production, but an incredible accomplishment, because I always wanted my own studio."

The sessions would produce one, six-track demo, created under the banner of IR8 (as in, 'irate'). IR8 would hit the skids soon after, once the rest of Metallica had heard about the project.

"The guys got wind of it," Newsted explains, "and Lars said, 'You gotta come up to the house.' I didn't really know what it was for, so I take my bass and go up there: 'What's up, guys?' 'Dude, you know you're in Metallica now, don't you? You can't just be making music and sending out tapes to whatever fucker with whichever fucker. You do understand that, right?' 'Oh!'

"I didn't realise at all! I didn't know about the politics; I was just sharing some metal with my friends! I pretty much broke down on that day in front of Lars and James. I was like, 'I'm sorry, it won't happen again!' And that was the first time."

Metallica have evidently relaxed their policy on band members indulging in extra curricular projects: guitarist Kirk Hammett put out his first solo EP earlier this month, noting that he was "pretty shocked" to get the band's blessing on it.

Read the rest of Jason Newsted's interview exclusively in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, on sale tomorrow.

Metal Hammer issue 361

(Image credit: Future)
Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin stepped into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He is also probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.