Jason Newsted's 15-year stint playing bass for one of heavy metal's biggest acts came to an end nine years ago, when he exited Metallica for "private and personal reasons and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love." On April 4th, when Metallica are inducted into Cleveland, Ohio's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Newsted will be there to accept rock's highest honor, and he's even agreed to reunite with drummer Lars Ulrich, frontman James Hetfield and guitarist Kirk Hammett (along with current bassist Robert Trujillo) for an impromptu set he promises will include "at least one song about Satan." (Revisit the band's career in Metallica: Through the Years in Photos.)
Since splitting the band to form the short-lived Echobrain, Metallica fans have wondered whether Newsted has ever regretted leaving the band. With less than a week to go before the Rock Hall, Newsted tells Rolling Stone the answer is absolutely not.
"I tell you very honestly, 1 billion percent, I have never regretted leaving Metallica," Newsted says. "It was the right thing for everyone. It was the right thing to do for the camp, that's it. I've never told anyone that I wanted to go back or anything like that, not once. I made up my mind. It was not an easy thing to do, but it was something I had to do. I thought about it very much before I pulled the trigger, and because of that, I have never looked back. The past is where its supposed to be."
Perhaps that's why Newsted has yet to see a copy of Guitar Hero: Metallica, a video game that doesn't even feature him in pixilated glory. According to Newsted, he wasn't even aware of his absence from the game.
"I haven't seen it, but it's a wonderful thing that we were able to do, as long as it's the music that we played and we recorded that everybody is playing along to or listening to," he says. "And a new generation is getting turned on to Metallicaâ€¦ all of these are positive things. But I've never touched a Guitar Hero. I don't play video games. I play the real instruments. I don't waste my time with anything else."
Newsted, who says he's recently put the finishing touches on Voivod's 15th studio offering (it will be the band's last effort featuring late guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour's contributions, and is slated for release in June), says Metallica is worthy of the Rock Hall, and says he's still a fan of his former band.
"I was one of the biggest fan of the band before I went in, and I'm a Metallica fan still," he says. "I was always the one person in the world who had an inside look and an outside look at the band, at the same time, and now, I've been out for a while, and I'm able to be a fan again."
Does that mean Newsted likes Death Magnetic? "It was better than St. Anger."
• Rolling Stone's Essential Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Coverage
• Metallica, Run-DMC, Jeff Beck Lead Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2009
• Jason Newsted on Metallica's Rock Hall Induction: "The Black Album Band Will Be Back"