Jason Newsted says that his comment about no longer having the "physicality" to play with a band like METALLICA has been misinterpreted.
Back in February 2020, the 58-year-old musician, who left the San Francisco Bay Area metal giants two decades ago after a 15-year run with the group, discussed his exit from the band in an interview with Florida Daily Post. At the time, spoke about the series of shoulder surgeries on both arms that initially rendered him unable to play. He said: "The surgeries kind of set me back. 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… I know for a fact I cannot play the way that I would want to play in VOIVOD, METALLICA — any of those bands. I don't have the physicality to do that anymore."
Now, during a new appearance on Knotfest.com's "Talk Toomey" podcast, Jason said that people misconstrued his words and he stressed that he would most certainly be able to play a high-energy heavy metal show if the circumstances were right.
"This thing came out of a Florida interview — I think it was an art exhibit interview, actually — and there was something about my shoulder surgeries, and I say, 'I can't play METALLICA songs anymore,' and all this stuff," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And people started running with this thing. Are you sure that you listened to what I said? Are you sure that you heard the words that I said? Somebody just ran with this part and they made up this big goddamn thing.
"I want everybody to realize that whoever asked me to come and play bass, and if it was for real, then I would be there to play bass," he clarified. "And if it was METALLICA that asked me to play for that many songs or that fast or that slow or whatever, then I would go and do it. There's not a thing where I can't do that. I was saying that I'm probably not gonna go on tour and do two and a half hours every night with a band anymore; that's not something I'm probably gonna do. It's not that I can't do it."
When interviewer Joshua Toomey floated the possibility of Newsted joining MEGADETH now that David Ellefson has been relieved of his duties, Jason said: "Wasn't that kind of interesting for a minute? Just that little talk about that… I don't know if I would ever do something like that. It's just not in my purview anymore. I'm so busy with other music and I play all the time with other kinds of people. I like playing the heavy stuff every now and again, but I really enjoy the composition now — different instruments and dimensions to the songs, and three or four voices going, female background vocal and cool shit. It's way more what I'm after now."
However, Newsted didn't completely rule out playing metal again at a special one-off event. "If [SEPULTURA guitarist] Andreas [Kisser] calls and says, 'Come out and throw down half an hour of SEPULTURA with me' somewhere, I'm there," he said.
Newsted's exit from METALLICA was documented in the band's 2004 documentary, "Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster", which followed the members of the group through the three most turbulent years of their long career, during which they battled through addiction, lineup changes, fan backlash, personal turmoil and the near-disintegration of the group while making their "St. Anger" album.
Newsted was METALLICA's third bassist, following Ron McGovney and the late Cliff Burton. Robert Trujillo took over in 2003 after Newsted's exit.
Jason spoke in detail about the reason he left METALLICA in a 2013 interview with Scuzz TV. Newsted said that his eventual split with the group was over the way his then-side band, ECHOBRAIN, was handled. Newsted explained: "The management of METALLICA was very, very excited about ECHOBRAIN, wanted to take it out for me, wanted me to do ECHOBRAIN also, with METALLICA. They felt ECHOBRAIN was that good, the singer was that good, and it didn't affect METALLICA because it was a totally different kind of thing, and I was in METALLICA; that would give it its pedigree already."
Newsted continued: "They had told me, pretty convincingly, 'This is a great record, we've been playing it around the office, that's all I’ve been hearing, it's fantastic, this kid has a great voice. Let's do something with this.' That's what they told me, and then James heard about it and was not happy. He was, I think, pretty much out to put the kibosh on the whole thing because it would somehow affect METALLICA in his eyes, because now the managers were interested in something I was doing that had nothing to do with him."
Newsted told The Pulse Of Radio a while back that he never saw how ECHOBRAIN could have interfered with METALLICA. "I never felt that it was going to affect METALLICA in any way," he said. "There was no way that it could. The monster and the integrity and the legend that METALLICA's built, it would take a lot more than that to ever affect it."
Newsted added, "The people that I had counted on for 15 years to help me with my career, help METALLICA, take care of my money, do all of those things, told me, 'Your new project is fantastic, we'd like to help you with it.' James heard about it, the manager calls me back a couple of days later — 'Sorry we're not going to be able to help you with that ECHOBRAIN thing.'"