Jason Newsted’s desire to pursue his side project Echobrain while being an active member of Metallica eventually led to his split from the band in 2001. Friction developed even earlier, however, when he and Devin Townsend began to working on the music together in 1994, which upset the other members of the legendary thrash band.
Joining Metallica in 1987 after the death of bassist Cliff Burton, Newsted endured a considerable amount of hazing from his bandmates and, more infamously, his bass tracks are rather absent from …And justice for allthe 1988 album on which he made his Tallica debut.
Throughout his four-album tenure in the band, Newsted’s songwriting contributions have been minimal at best, a stark departure from his days at Flotsam and Jetsam where he served as primary songwriter- composer of their Doomsday for the deceiver start.
Between the release of Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album (better known as “The Black Album”) and 1996 ChargeNewsted built a home studio dubbed The Big Rigor Chophouse, and in 1994 he invited Devin Townsend to check it out and work on the music together.
That same year, Townsend formed Strapping Young Lad and had just completed a breakout stint as vocalist on guitar virtuoso Steve Vai’s 1993 album. sex and religion.
“These are the very origins [of internal tension in Metallica]“, said Newsted metal hammer in a recent interview.
He further explained, “I had just started the Chophouse in ’92 and by ’94 we had all the gear. Devin came in when he was about 22 and was an absolute fucking maniac…man, an hour and a one-half sleep a day for an entire week! And every time he picked up a guitar, you’d hear “Widdle widdle widdle” and you’re like, “Man, where the hell did that come from? ! Now play it backwards!'”
Together they formed the band IR8, which also included drummer Tom Hunting of Exodus fame and recorded a three-song demo.
“It was the first real project that we took the time to follow in the Chophouse. It’s just drums and bass, Devin doing a crazy guitar solo on top, I walk in and shout the vocals – it’s done. Raw production, but an amazing achievement, because I’ve always wanted to have my own studio,” the bassist continued.
It didn’t sit well with the other Metallica members, however, and Newsted recalled, “The guys got wind of it and Lars said, ‘You gotta come home. I didn’t quite know what it was for, so I grab my bass and go up there: ‘What’s up, guys?’ “Man, you know you’re into Metallica now, right? You can’t just make music and send tapes to some asshole with some asshole. You get that, no ?” ‘Oh!'”
It took him completely by surprise.
“I hadn’t realized at all! I didn’t know the politics – I was just sharing metal with my friends! I practically broke down that day in front of Lars and James. I was like, ‘I’ I’m sorry, that won’t happen again!’ And that was the first time,” Newsted concluded, lightly referencing the friction around his Echobrain project that came later.
Flash forward to 2022 and Metallica’s Kirk Hammett has just released his very first solo release, the Portals PE. In an exclusive interview with Loudwire, the guitarist explained how releasing music outside of Metallica is a different animal today than it was 20-25 years ago.
“At the time, with Jason, the excuse was that we didn’t want it to dilute the effect of Metallica or whatever. Brother, at this point, nothing can dilute what we have. Nothing can. It would have to be so big, you know? I mean, nothing but our mortality. And so we all realize that now, and we see ourselves as just four guys who are artists, musicians who want to express themselves “Hammett said.