Lars Ulrich Says He Now Understands Why Jason Newsted Left Metallica


Time has a way of making us all into softies, willing to forgive even the most hated of enemies. Time also has a way of making us more emotionally mature… some of us, anyway.

So while Metallica fans of a certain age no doubt remember how acrimonious the split between the band and bassist Jason Newsted was in 2001, the parties are on much, much better terms now. You’ve likely seen that yourself lately given how much Newsted has contributed to the marketing and press of the Black Album 30th anniversary reissue, but you’re about to hear it from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich himself.

The latest came in a chat between Ulrich, James Hetfield and Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. Hetfield went first on his current relationship with Newsted, playing into the full stereotype of the huggable Papa Bear he’s become. He explained:

“My theory now is I could love anybody, really, at the end of the day. You get to know them, you get to know where they’ve come from, you understand where their parents came from — all of that. How are you you? I can accept that. I can really accept that. There was more to be revealed. I mean, really.

“He was at a point where he was at; we were at a point where we were at. It happened because it happened. If it was like that right now — say, Robert [Trujillo] comes and says, ‘Hey, I’m done here.’ We would fight. We would fight, or I would fight for him. I didn’t know about the fight back then.”

But it was Ulrich who truly dug deep and reflected and analyzed his own inner workings, both then and now. He explained:

“If you think about it, Jason is the only member of Metallica who’s ever left willingly, 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. And 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. You have no creative outlet in this band; you have no creative voice. And then when you go and do something that gives you satisfaction and a way for you to express yourself to the rest of the world, then we get fucking pissed at you. And 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. Twenty years later, so now it makes complete sense.”

“Jason gave 14 years — every day, every performance, he was there always… I mean, we always used to joke. It’s, like, ‘He’s so fired up. Come on, dude. Slow down.’ He was the fucking first guy in and the last guy out. He was signing autographs when we were driving by waving on the way out of the buildings. I mean, he really was. And I now [am] finally equipped to appreciate every moment that he gave. And we have, I think, so much respect for each other now, so much appreciation. Ten years ago, when we did the 30th anniversaries, when he came up and played four nights with us at the four Fillmore shows, played two nights with us, seeing Rob and him together up there, that felt like it was the beginning of the thawing of where we are now.

“But he’s been a very integral part of the [Black Album] reissue and the re-release and has done interviews and been very, very helpful. He did the unboxing of the box for the cameras and the whole thing. I mean, he’s been so gracious.”

And it’s true; as I said at the top of this piece, Newsted has been incredibly in the Black Album reissue campaign. And that’s a damn big thing of him to do given how the band treated him, even if it’s in his own best interests to promote a release he likely earns money on.

The super-duper-extra-special-deluxe thirtieth anniversary reissue of the Black Album arrived on September 10. Metallica are also currently promoting The Metallica Blacklist, a new release which features 50+ covers of songs from Metallica’s Black Album, including contributions from Corey TaylorGhostMiley CyrusVolbeatWeezerBiffy ClyroChris StapletonRoyal Blood, the Hu, Elton John, Yo-Yo Ma, Chad SmithPhoebe Bridgers, and more. That came out on October 1.

Metallica have been deep in “some pretty serious writing” for their next album since last November with the most recent update, indicating ten songs were partially written, coming this past May via frontman James Hetfield.

Upcoming Metallica live dates:

10/8/21 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock at Discovery Park [tickets]
10/10/21 – Sacramento, CA – Aftershock at Discovery Park [tickets]
11/4/21 – Hollywood, FL — Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino [tickets]
11/12/21 – Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome to Rockville at the Daytona International Speedway [tickets]
11/14/21 – Daytona Beach, FL – Welcome to Rockville at the Daytona International Speedway [tickets]
12/17/21 — San Francisco, CA — Chase Center [fan club only]
12/19/21 — San Francisco, CA — Chase Center [fan club only]
6/15/22 – Copenhell – Copenhagen, Denmark [tickets]
6/17/22 – Firenze Rocks – Florence, Italy [tickets]
6/19/22 – Prague Rocks – Prague, Czech Republic [tickets]
6/22/22 – Rock Werchter – Werchter, Belgium [tickets]
7/1/22 – Mad Cool – Madrid, Spain [tickets]
7/6/22 – NOS Alive – Lisbon, Portugal [tickets]

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