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Dear Guitar Hero: Jason Newsted Talks Flotsam and Jetsam, Voivod, Getting Hazed by Metallica and More

Dear Guitar Hero: Jason Newsted Talks Flotsam and Jetsam, Voivod, Getting Hazed by Metallica and More

I read that while you were recovering from your shoulder injury you took up painting. What kind of stuff do you paint? — Vaughan Moorhouse

My shoulder was first torn in 2004, like almost all the way separated, bicep and everything. And that took quite a while to get fixed. In the meantime, I was doing everything with my other arm, and then I tore the other shoulder. During that four-year span, I was on Vicodin the whole time. There wasn’t enough of a time span for me to withdraw from it without getting back on it again. So that was the ugliest part.

But the painting thing is the blessing that came from that. Big pictures. Mostly acrylic things. And they’re giant abstract creatures. Sometimes you see the creatures. Sometimes it takes you a long time before you can see the creatures. Sometimes it’s just layer and layer of expression. And I had to become ambidextrous by necessity. So I’m doing all of the paintings with both hands. I do all the text in the pictures with my left hand and all the painting with my right. And now I can play my instruments a little better, too, because I can use both.

You co-wrote “Blackened” off of …And Justice for All, which I think is one of the greatest album openers of all time. What do you remember about how that song came together? — Billy Burton

Yeah, the main riff is mine. I wrote it on bass, though. I’ve never told this story before, and it warms me a bit. I’d only been in the band for a very short time. I was still in a little one-bedroom rented apartment. And James would come over to the house, like [we were] buddies. He’d come over for dinner. We’d hang out and play guitars on the couch. It’s was pretty fucking dreamy for me. Metallica was my favorite band.

It was pretty surreal. I had a little four-track Tascam set up in the bedroom. So we went in there, and he’s got a guitar and I’ve got a bass. I’m fucking around with this riff. And then he started playing along, and the song started forming right at that time. I’m sitting up in my chair, like, Holy shit, dude. This is something! That was the first thing we ever constructed together. And him going, “Dude, that riff’s good enough to open our fucking album,” really gave me a feeling of victory, because I looked up to him greatly, and still do to this day.

I loved the Metal EP from your new band, Newsted. Will you be releasing a full-length anytime soon? Will Mike Mushok play on that? — Keith Sando

Yes. The full LP is completed. It’s called Heavy Metal Music and will be out in August. It’s a four-piece band performing the LP, and Mushok plays on it. So it’s about an hour’s worth of metal, and we have a couple bonus tracks for Japan and Australia as well.

Photo: Mick Hutson/Redferns/Getty Images

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