Though Jason Newsted has popped up in a few notable projects since quitting Metallica in 2001, his new band is all about him.
“It’s a big deal," he says. "There’s a few different hats I’m taking on: I’m the frontman, it’s my songs, it’s my voice.”
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It's also his name. In the tradition of Van Halen, Santana and Bon Jovi, the name of the band is the same as the name of the man. This is a bigger commitment than participating in Dave Navarro’s made-for-reality TV band, Rock Star Supernova, and the bassist seems acutely aware of that.
“It’s nervous excitement," he says. "It’s a giant challenge.”
Newsted formed six months ago when the band’s namesake started writing songs with guitarist Jessie Farnsworth and drummer Jesus Mendez Jr., and recorded a thrashy four-song EP as tight and terse as its title: “Metal.” In February, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok joined and, though we couldn’t get the band’s leader to reveal its title, a full-length is ready for release by fall.
Through summer, Newsted has 70 gigs worldwide, including London’s 100 Club and Donington’s Download, the same two places he played in 1987, launching his first full-length with Metallica, “…And Justice For All.”
“I did retire from the big thing so I could do what I want with my life. Jumping back into it is different from what I planned to do, but you have to create challenges when you have all the time in the world. This is the biggest that I’ve created for myself in a long time.”
Regrets, Newsted has a few. Quitting Metallica wasn’t easy. But Metallica — driven and ambitious on the one hand and stung by the loss of dear friend and original bassist Cliff Burton, whom Newsted replaced — was never an easy band to be in. For anyone: “I am the man who had to step up and make that decision for EVERYONE,” Newsted emphasizes of his decision to leave in 2001. “It was me that suffered the most. It was me that made the giant sacrifice. It was a horrible, hard decision. I still, every couple of days, I think about it even now. I was the first one into the show and the last one out. I wore a Metallica T-shirt on stage every night. I flew my colors, I was full-on dedicated.”