The seminal heavy metal band Metallica have revealed that they “weren’t equipped” to cope with the absence of former bassist Jason Newsted after he left the band in 2001. Newsted had played with Metallica since 1986 but left after becoming increasingly frustrated by his lack of say over the band’s creative direction. Only now have the rest of Metallica admitted that they were not prepared for the bassist’s exit and have said that, if they had worked harder to include Newsted, he may have remained in Metallica.
In a recent interview, Lars Ulrich addressed Newsted’s 2001 exit: “Jason is the only member of Metallica who has ever left willingly,” the drummer began. “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.”
“We write the songs. We make the decisions. We do all of it,” he went on to add. “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.”
James Hetfield, added – with a little more ambiguity than Ulrich – that, during that period: “He [Newsted] was at a point where he was at and we were at a point where we were at.”
However, Newsted himself has claimed that his voluntary exit stopped Metallica from imploding: “They would not be doing what they’re doing now if I hadn’t made that move then and I knew what was best for everybody at the time,” he said.
“Whether I was prophetic and saw these things ahead of time, that I knew the inner rumblings, what would take place and what would unfold… I knew about people’s issues and stuff.”