Metallica’s former bassist gave an interview to Metal Hammer and remembered the time when James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich dominated the recording sessions.
Formed in 1981 by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, Metallica has become a prominent figure in the metal music scene. With their distinctive sound and astonishing stage performances, the band is considered among the ‘Big Four’ thrash metal bands alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Until now, Metallica has released many successful albums and is still active in the scene.
During their successful music career, Metallica has gone through some lineup changes. For instance, back in 1986, when Cliff Burton died tragically, Jason Newsted joined the band to replace the bassist. He appeared on some of the band’s most popular albums. Performing his last live show as Metallica’s bassist on November 30, 2000, Newsted quit the band in 2001 and focused on other projects.
Speaking to Metal Hammer, Jason Newsted recalled the time he spent in Metallica. He commented on the band’s working practices and considered the recording sessions as ‘The Hetfield And Ulrich Show.’ The bassist stated that Hetfield and Ulrich dominated the recording process and decided what needs to be done. Newsted then added that Metallica was a ‘guitar and drums’ band and said Ulrich even asked the recording studio to turn the bass down before listening when he sent the demo out to them.
Jason Newsted told Metal Hammer that:
“Lars and James were the original garage band duo, as far as that goes. They always made the records that way, from the 1982 demo cassette ‘No Life ’Til Leather,’ it was Lars and James, guitar and drums.
On the original ‘No Life ’Til Leather’ cassette – if you happen to ever see a real copy or a photo of a real copy – in Lars’ handwriting, in ink pen, on the label of the cassette, it reads ‘Turn bass down on stereo.’ On ‘No Life ’Til Leather!’
They mixed it how it was supposed to be mixed: there’s the bass and there’s the guitar from all the way back. But Lars didn’t want that because it messed with his drums somehow, so when he sends the demo out to fucking Combat Records and wherever, his instruction is ‘Turn the bass down before you even listen to this.’ Before you even get it going, just turn the bass down. Right from the get-go. Before you even start.
That’s where he’s been his whole goddamn life, so why would it be any different when it came to ‘…And Justice For All?’ They made ‘Kill ’Em All’ that way, they made ‘Ride’ that way, they made ‘Master’ that way, all of them. Those two guys in a room, that’s the way it always happened. For the most successful metal band of all time. So you argue with this shit? I’m not really sure.”
Following his departure from Metallica, Newsted told various sources that he never regretted his decision. After leaving the band, the bassist focused on other side projects, such as the metal bands Echobrain and Voivod. He also toured with Ozzy Osbourne and fronted the band Newsted.