Metallica have admitted they “weren’t equipped” to deal with Jason Newsted upon his exit from the band in 2001. The band opened up about Newsted’s departure in an extensive new interview, reflecting on a decadent 40-year career thus far.
This past August marked the 30th anniversary of the “Black Album,” which featured Newsted on bass. Despite his unceremonious exit from Metallica, he played a vital role in the band’s legacy and has returned to the spotlight as fans celebrate the classic LP.
At the time of his exit, Newsted was frustrated over his lack of creative input in Metallica, and had sought out another musical outlet in his side project Echobrain.
When asked about Newsted leaving Metallica, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich both offered reflective answers, implying that had they been equipped with a different mindset, Newsted may have remained in the band.
“Jason is the only member of Metallica who has ever left willingly,” Ulrich told Apple Music. “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. So of course, now you can see 20 years later, it makes complete sense.”
The drummer continued, “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. Then when you go and do something that gives you satisfaction in a way for you to express yourself to the rest of the world, then we get pissed at you. 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.”
In conclusion, Ulrich admits that “now it makes complete sense,” with Hetfield seconding: “He was at a point where he was at and we were at a point where we were at.”
Ulrich went to on to say that the aftermath of Newsted’s exit, the documentary Some Kind of Monster “wasn’t planned.” What the band thought would be “an informercial” went on to be one of the most intense all-access music documentaries of all-time.
“First of all, it wasn’t planned,” Ulrich said. “It wasn’t like, oh, let’s document what’s going to happen in the next two years in the ensuing show. I mean, that wasn’t the plan. It was, they’re going to come out, we’re making a new record. Joe Berlinger and Bruce are going to come out and document what we’re doing.”
Ulrich added: “Well, maybe make an infomercial. It’ll be on after the guy with the Ginsu knives and whatever else at 2:00 in the morning. Metallica has a new album, blah, blah, blah. And then all of a sudden that whole break down started happening in front of the cameras. And then they ended up sticking around to sort of document, and get the arc of it. But nobody had seen, nobody had that kind of access to a rock and roll band.”
Elsewhere in the career-spanning conversation, Ulrich gave a brief update on Metallica’s upcoming album, saying, “Of course there’s new music, but there’s nothing cohesive.” Watch the full Apple Music interview with Metallica below.