Speaking in a recent interview with journalist David Fricke, Metallica frontman James Hetfield spoke about the Jason Newsted’s position in Metallica.
He said that Jason was “such a fan” and they hated that part of him. Here’s the statement:
“I think it had to be extremely bittersweet for him. Like a dream come true, but, ‘I’m stepping into someone’s shoes who can never be filled.’ It must have been very difficult – for him and for us, it was difficult; it just truly was.
And Psych 101 will tell you that all our anger, our grief, and sadness got directed at him – not all of it, but quite a bit of it. He was an easy target. And I think there were a couple of things about Jason, his personality…
He was goofy enough to take it, which was a positive for him. I think he was such a fan, and we hated that – we hated that part. We wanted to ‘unfan’ him and become as hard as we were. So trying to beat the fan out of him. Trying to also get him to play something different like Cliff would.
He played with a pick and he would follow whatever I would do [on guitar]. And I remember there were times where I’d be playing, and I’d just turn around so he couldn’t see what I was playing so he couldn’t follow me. It’s like, ‘Do whatever you wanna do.’
But, obviously, live, he fit right in – he was a great force. And you heard the bass live. And he wasn’t afraid to step up to the mic and bark whenever he felt like it. And he would sweat – he would really sweat – and he put a lot into the live show. So that gained a lot of respect, at least I think for us, once we started touring with him.“
Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett said:
“Jason tried to balance things out by kind of, like, really being prominent on those songs when they were played live. I mean, he played the shit out of those songs. And you can tell that he was giving it his all.
And I think some of that was because he was trying to compensate for not being heard on the album. And that was his way for his parts to be heard – in a live situation. And so I think there was a bit of that.”
You can watch the entire interview from below.