Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted is excited about his trip to Cleveland, Ohio, in two weeks. And why shouldn't he be? The band he spent 15 years slapping his bass for, the mighty Metallica, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4th, and for the first time in nine years, "the Black Album band will be back together and mow the shit down," as he puts it.
That's right. Newsted has confirmed for Rolling Stone that he's going to be onstage with the band he left back in 2001, along with guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and the man who replaced him, bassist Robert Trujillo. Newsted says former bassist Ron McGovney will also be on hand for the honors, as will Ray Burton, the father of the man Newsted replaced, the late Cliff Burton.
"There's three bass players getting inducted, and James, Lars and Kirk," he says. Former guitarist Dave Mustaine, who now fronts Megadeth, will not be inducted, however. "Its not my decision. I have nothing to do with that. It was decided by the band, and I think it was just a hard-and-fast rule: anyone who has recorded on any Metallica recordings that have been released to the public as an official release were invited to the induction. So, that's kind of that."
According to Newsted, it was Ulrich who made the "very recent" call, inviting him to Cleveland for the induction. "I talked to Lars, and it's all good," Newsted said. "I was happy to hear from him. I hadn't talked to him for a long time, so it was nice to hear his voice." The last time the two had spoken was a few years ago, during a System of a Down show.
"It was basically as if no time had passed, as far as the conversation went," Newsted recalls, adding that the two started referencing long-forgotten inside jokes almost immediately. "We picked up right where we left off. It was just absolutely positive. It was like, there we were, getting ready to get a beer some place. And Lars is ready to rock. He sounded like a kid again talking about the induction, and I felt pretty much like that, too. Getting fired up to rock after that many years... it's pretty special."
While Newsted's split from the band was the very definition of acrimonious, he says the past is in the past, and he's just looking forward to the reunion. "The main thing for everybody is, Metallica has a very large family, and this is a 25-year reunion of all of the people, from many languages and many countries, from the Kill 'Em All road crew to the latest people who've helped us out all across the board, through all the years, who've made the monster what it is," he says. "The honor is fantastic, of course, but they've made it possible for us to get all of our people together in one place after this good landmark, 25 years."
Newsted did want to make sure Trujillo was kosher with him returning to his former post, because he didn't want to make waves. But Robert voiced no objections, and now, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is going to get a brutal metal set; he said the band will not be meeting to practice beforehand, but will instead warm up with a single sound check.
"I wanted everything to be righteous, because I feel strongly that they have a powerful touring band that's firing on all cylinders now," he says. "There's not a lot of bands that get inducted into the Hall that can still fucking knock it down. We're all still clear-eyed and clear-minded and able-bodied, and all that, so its not something that always happens. We're getting called out pretty early, so for us to be strong and capable to still mow everybody down, as it would be expected, is a fantastic thing."