In a new interview with Metal Hammer hitting newsstands this Thursday, April 28, Jason Newsted revealed some of his personal feelings about Metallica — aka "The Black Album" — and not all of them are so rosy.
"I struggled with 'Nothing Else Matters,' admits Newsted in the article. "I knew it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up—it was undeniable—but I was kinda scared of it, to be honest, because I still wanted [to rock]…. The beautiful thing was that we all sat in the room together and played it out — 70 takes of 'Nothing Else Matters.' After a while, you're too close to it. 'How much more delicate can I make it?""
About "Enter Sandman," Newsted was apparently less conflicted. "'Sandman' I thought was kinda corny, honestly."
The interview was conducted last summer, but is being released at time when Metallica are under a microscope to some degree. Last week, just days before the release of his new solo EP Portals, Kirk Hammett remarked that he was "pretty shocked" his Metallica bandmates blessed its existence.
"It was amazing because our band has not had a lot of great progress with band members going solo, as everyone knows," Hammett said.
You will recall, of course, it was Newsted's desire to pursue his solo project Echobrain in 2001 that ruffled the feathers of James Hetfield so much, it prompted Newsted to walk away from Metallica, who by then in the public eye were the undisputed and crowned Kings of Rock. Last year, Metallica released a sprawling 30th anniversary box set of Metallica — complete with a full remaster from the original tapes, the full Monsters of Rock performance from 1991, and a covers album of Metallica tracks performed by 53 different artists including Ghost, OFF!, Weezer, and St. Vincent, just to name a few.
The reissue is what likely prompted the conversation with Newsted, and while there is certainly nothing nefarious about the timing of the print article this Thursday, it could present a test to what Hammett alluded to as Metallica's newfound maturity. "We're such different people now….[W]e're definitely older, and a little bit more mature, a little bit more responsible. So something like this takes on a different sort of meaning now than it would have 20 years ago," Hammett said.
Certainly, time will tell.
Meanwhile, chatting about producer Bob Rock (another polarizing figure within the Metallica big tent), Newsted describes what sounds like an uncomfortable relationship the two shared during the insanely long recording sessions for Metallica. "I don't think I ever earned his respect like he had for James and Lars [Ulrich], because of what they had achieved—and they were writing the checks," says Newsted. "But I think [Rock] was firing on all cylinders. I wanted to get his respect, to show him that I knew what I was doing."
Newsted throughout the conversation does acknowledge the transformative affect the album had on him and on Metallica. With the release of Metallica in August of 1991, and the exhausting three-year tour that followed, a now very-brandable Metallica was something the world had to contend with.
Asked to reflect on the songs that would go on to become iconic anthems and rock radio staples, Newsted said, "I'm going to go back to 'Sad But True,' because that's my highlight of the whole project." But — "It's crazy I've just realized this," he adds, "Our softest song ever took down the biggest walls to allow our hardest songs ever to penetrate the world. When it was No. 1 in 35 countries in one week, and seven of those countries we hadn't even been to yet? Dude, that doesn't happen to a band who go 'Die! Die!' most of the time."
You can read the complete interview with Newsted in the new issue of Metal Hammer available this Thursday. You can also keep an eye out for Newsted's new record with The Chophouse Band hopefully sometime this year.