The former Metallica bassist details how Bob Rock helped the band capture lighting in a bottle.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary release of Metallica’s special edition box set of their seminal Black Album, Jason Newsted sat in for a conversation on the Talk Toomey Podcast to revisit the pivotal era and the offer some insights on not just the record but the enduing impact created as a result.
Newsted began the exchange by discussing his recent unboxing video of the Deluxe edition box set of the Remastered Black album and confiding a bit of ignorance about the viral phenomenon. Though Newsted isn’t ignorant to the idea of product placement, he failed to see how the unboxing would resonate with fans.
However, when he finally got in front of the camera and opened the packaging of the box set for the first time, he confided that the rush of memories that came about in seeing the art and those photos was profound. He would share that a significant portion of the photos he saw instantly bought back memories of exactly when, where, and what was happening at the very moment the camera clicked – it was an experience that was special for Newsted.
The conversation would also explore the vast archive of Metallica – a sort of living, breathing museum to a still living, breathing and evolving entity. Newsted credited the kind of commitment to cataloging everything to Lars Ulrich. Newsted shared how initially he thought it was weird how Lars was always so meticulous about keeping everything that pertained to Metallica, even items as common as a hotel room list. However, it’s those details that make the Metallica collection so comprehensive.
Newsted would also reflect on the recording of the Black Album and how a very unique camaraderie was forged during those sessions – sometimes without the band really even being aware of it at the time. He shared how producer Bob Rock said that seeing Metallica live evoked a sort of physical experience – there was weight associated with the band’s show – power in their sound (particularly the rumble of the bass Jason points out) that Rock felt hadn’t been properly captured on record yet.
In an effort to best convey all the raw power of Metallica onto record, Rock actually had the band all face each other during the recording in a sort of circle around Lars during the recording process. That configuration was something that Newsted credits with cementing a bond that continues to be especially profound. It was something they didn’t comprehend at the time, but something that remains very much tangible now.
Newsted would continue to hold Bob Rock in the highest regard while revisiting the recording of the Black Album. The album is a source of pride for Newsted and one that he credits Rock with helping to truly come to fruition. In much the same way he configured the band to connect physically in the studio, he corralled the personalities to galvanize in the same way.
Comparing the master producer to one of the few master sommeliers in the world, Newsted explained that Rock’s legacy is anchored by his unique ability to hear what most of the world can’t – combined with his ability to wrangle big individual personalities and get them to converge to create something bigger than any one of them would be individually. For Newsted, Rock knew the potential of Metallica before the band did, and he helped the band to materialize it – as evidenced with by the fact that all these years later, the world is still air-drumming “Sad But True” parts.
Watch the first segment of the Talk Toomey Podcast special with Jason Newsted below.
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