Was Jason Newsted just acting out when he quit Metallica? That's what infamous therapist Phil Towle thinks. You may recall Towle was featured in Metallica's 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster and he recently revealed his thoughts on Newsted in a new interview.
Towle appeared on ..And Podcast For All! and thinks Newsted didn't really want to leave, saying “I don’t think [Jason] wanted to leave the band. I think he wanted to leave the reality of what existed. And this was the only way he could start to do something with it.”
He later continued “Have you ever had a fight with your wife? When we’re fighting with our spouses or significant others or good friends or whatever, it’s hard. It’s easy to build up the animosity and the resentment when you’re feeling uncomfortable. And I think that Jason — this is my second-hand knowledge — but I think that Jason, coming off of Cliff’s reputation and the way that Cliff died so tragically, and that he was so instantly a replacement for Cliff, that he became what the guys would say a ‘whipping boy.’ He was the way that they grieved unhealthily. And Jason, because he was so — like anybody else — so grateful to be a part of the band, never felt like he could quite make it. He was hazed to the point where I think it blew because he’d had enough of something. And when we’ve had enough of something, then it’s hard to go to somebody and say, ‘Can we sit down and talk about this?’ No. It’s, ‘Fuck you.’ It’s a straight head-on… It’s, ‘This is what I’m pissed off about.’ So you have to ride that wave out. And because it was stunning, and because the band had certain resentments — the rest of the band had resentments — these are cumulative effects. And the fact that they never talked out — this is what Lars would say — the whole never really took the time to talk out the issues they were involved in, then this becomes an explosion. Then you have to pick up the pieces of it.”
Towle ultimately thinks good came out of Newsted leaving, “[It] triggered a whole bunch of things. That contributed to ultimately James [Hetfield, Metallica singer/guitarist], months later, going into rehab. It wasn’t the exact fact, but if you look at the overarching life of Metallica and you see that they were trashing each other in Playboy magazine, in that interview, and you see then a month later they come in, or maybe two months later they come in — January of 2001, I think — and there’s this kind of animosity, that Jason is acting out. He’s the identified patient of the therapy, so he’s acting this act. And then the fight ensued.”
In 2014, Newsted was interviewed by Scuzz TV in the UK and was asked about his exit. I guess enough time has passed where he felt he could finally open up fully about it. We knew previously that he quit because the rest of Metallica wanted Newsted to focus on Metallica and did not want him doing side projects, namely Echobrain project that he was working on.
Now, Newsted elaborates that what actually happened was Metallica's management at Q-Prime heard the Echobrain demos and were very impressed. They wanted to represent the band and push it using Newsted's built-in credibility of being in Metallica. Newsted alleges that once James Hetfield heard about this, he supposedly got jealous of management's interest, and assumed Echobrain's success would hurt Metallica. So, James "put the kibosh" on the entire thing, and the next day the management company called Newsted and told him they were no longer interested.
The next time the entire band met up for a shoot, Newsted showed up and offered copies of the new Echobrain record to everybody in the band, friends and Bob Rock, who was also present. James then reprimanded Newsted. Newsted claims he invested a lot of money into the project and ultimately did not make a profit. But more importantly, he was so offended by James' power play that he decided it was time to move on.