Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted described the band in his day as the “best garage duo ever,” saying the music was all about James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich’s contributions.
Newsted will forever be connected with the controversy known as “Justice for Jason,” after his first album as a Metallica member, 1988’s … And Justice For All, was mixed with his bass work close to absent.
“There was never any big bass on Metallica’s albums until the Black Album,” he said in a recent episode of Let There Be Talk. He allowed that predecessor Cliff Burton was heard loud and clear when there were bass solos and similar leading sections, but maintained that “as far as the body and the depth and the girth of the bass frequencies, they didn’t exist in Metallica albums other than the bass drum.”
You can watch the interview below.
Newsted recalled tracking “throbbing bass” parts for Justice, “so I can hand it over to these guys to mix it and I don’t have to be there.” The results weren’t what he expected. But, he reflected, “This is what always happened in Metallica. There’s two people, they go into a room … it literally is 70 or 80 feet square with a drum set and Marshall stacks and the old Tascam recorder eight-track.
“They were very good at this thing. The demos that they produced from this little machine were insane. … It was them – that’s always been the sound of the band, with two other guys over here [to] complement, embellish, whatever you want to call it.”
Thinking about Justice now, Newsted compared the musical intent with that of duos the White Stripes and the Black Keys, taking nothing away from those groups but saying Metallica was better at it: “My take on it now, as a fan first, then in the band and out again, trying to look at the band’s perspective [is] best garage duo ever, best garage duo album ever.”
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