The veteran bassist shares how the entire Metallica team knew the Black Album was going to be something special from the very beginning.
The second installment of Josh Toomey’s conversation with legendary former Metallica bassist and Black Album contributor Jason Newsted begins with the musician’s lone co-write on the record in “My Frien of Misery”.
Recalling exactly where he was when he began playing that unmistakable opening bass line, Newsted says that the stylistic change in his playing caught the attention of his then girlfriend – affirming that the bass line was the start of something that would definitely stick.
Eventually developing the bass line into revolving three part sections, Newsted shared that some of the technical inspiration for the song came from watching a Nathan East video. Confiding how competition was always a major driving force of the era, Newsted explained how being able to show the most agility, play the fastest, be the most inventive fueled an ongoing era of oneupmanship between the likes of Metallica, Exodus, Megadeth, Flotsam and Jetsam, and so on.
The bassist went onto share that the contrast in what he presented in the track was such a 180 from where Kirk and James were in their writing, that it was different enough to capture James and Lars interest and be further fleshed out as one of the album’s sleeper essentials.
As for the equity in the songwriting portion of Metallica, Newsted says that his focus was never about the credits, it was always about the show. Not overly concerned with the business portion of the monster, Newsted’s priority was about getting onstage and being “loud as fuck”. While he would eventually become much more business savvy, during those formative Metallica days, his fixation was simple, “set me up for all those shows, I’ll try not to be weak for any of them.”
Going back to the very release day of the Black Album, April 12th, 1991, Newsted again emphasized the kind of pride he still feels when he thinks about that time. Recalling doing some tune up shows to shake of the ring rust prior to going overseas to begin the cycle for the Black Album, the bassist gushed about the greater collective that surrounded the band at the time. Crediting Metallica’s team, from management to the record label reps throughout the world, he explained that everyone gave a concerted push because they all seemed to understand how special this particular album was going to be.
As the album skyrocketed and the band rewrote the course of heavy music history, Newsted explains that it was difficult to see the kind of impact the album was having because the band was so immersed in the actual cultural shift. He details how often times, Metallica would be in three different cities during one 24 hour-period.
Despite the hustle of that formative first year of the Black Album’s existence, Newsted shared how Lars was always on top of the details. As the band continued to tour incessantly, sharing the Black Album across the globe, daily benchmarks would be shared with the band to boost morale – hearing the album just went double platinum in a certain part of the world makes for great motivation before walking out onstage.
Metallica’s 30th anniversary Remastered edition of the Black Album arrives September 10th along with the band’s comprehensive Blacklist compilation. Pe-order both – HERE
Watch the second installment of the in-depth Talk Toomey conversation with Jason Newsted below.