In the saga of Metallica, Jason Newsted’s story is a sad one. The bassist joined the band to replace tragically-deceased member Cliff Burton in 1986, and was forevermore treated like the “new guy” by both fans and his brothers in arms. When he finally quit in 2001, it was after 14 years of being dumped on by his emotionally-crippled and still-mourning bandmates, having had his bass mixed out of an entire album, and being blamed for Metallica’s decline. And now, in 2021, drummer Lars Ulrich is finally at a place where he can grasp that.
In a recent conversation with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Ulrich said, “If you think about it, Jason is the only member of Metallica who’s ever left willingly, and that in itself is a statistic. And the resentment from James and I was just so… you can’t do that. You can only leave if we want you to leave. And then we weren’t equipped at the time to do a deep dive into why he was leaving. And so, of course, now you can see 20 years later, it makes complete sense.
“We write the songs; we make the decisions; we do all of it. You have no creative outlet in this band; you have no creative voice. And then when you go and do something that gives you satisfaction and a way for you to express yourself to the rest of the world, then we get fucking pissed at you. And then that resentment then goes to you leaving the band. I mean, that’s kind of Psychiatry 101 here. But we weren’t equipped to see that side of it. Twenty years later, so now it makes complete sense.
“Jason gave 14 years — every day, every performance, he was there always… I mean, we always used to joke. It’s, like, ‘He’s so fired up. Come on, dude. Slow down.’ He was the fucking first guy in and the last guy out. He was signing autographs when we were driving by waving on the way out of the buildings. I mean, he really was. And I now [am] finally equipped to appreciate every moment that he gave. And we have, I think, so much respect for each other now, so much appreciation. Ten years ago, when we did the 30th anniversaries, when he came up and played four nights with us at the four Fillmore shows, played two nights with us, seeing Rob and him together up there, that felt like it was the beginning of the thawing of where we are now.
“But he’s been a very integral part of the [Black Album] reissue and the re-release and has done interviews and been very, very helpful. He did the unboxing of the box for the cameras and the whole thing. I mean, he’s been so gracious.”
We’re glad Lars can finally be at peace with the bandmate he mistreated for so long. Check out the interview below:
Words by Chris Krovatin