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Jason Newsted

Ex-Metallica Bassist Jason Newsted On First Hearing His Bass Buried On “…And Justice For All”: “I Was F*cking Livid!”


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Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted didn’t have the easiest studio introduction into the legendary thrash band. His first album with the group, the band’s 1988 8x multi-platinum “…And Justice For All“, saw his bass parts absolutely buried in the mix.

That decision to largely make the low end inaudible remains a point of contention amongst the band’s fans to this day. Over the years there’s been investigative reports into why it happened. There’s also been allegations that the group’s drummer Lars Ulrich was behind the decision, according to the album’s mixer Steve Thompson.

Vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield weighed in on the matter back in 2019, offering “I will say, it was not all about, ‘Fuck him. Let’s turn him down.’ That’s for sure. We wanted the best-sounding record we could make. That was our goal.

In a newly conducted interview with Metal Hammer, Newsted revealed that his first listen to the mix was not a pleasant one, he said of that:

“I was fucking livid! Are you kidding me? I was ready [to go] for throats, man! No, I was out of my head, because I really thought I did well. And I thought I played how I was supposed to play.”

He continued:

Lars and James were the original garage band duo, as far as that goes. They always made the records that way, from [1982 demo cassette] ‘No Life ’Til Leather‘, it was Lars and James, guitar and drums. On the original ‘No Life ’Til Leather‘ cassette – if you happen to ever see a real copy or a photo of a real copy – in Lars’ handwriting, in ink pen, on the label of the cassette, [it reads] ‘Turn bass down on stereo’. On ‘No Life ’Til Leather‘!”

“They mixed it how it was supposed to be mixed: there’s the bass and there’s the guitar from all the way back. But Lars didn’t want [that] because it messed with his drums somehow, so when he sends the demo out to fucking Combat Records and wherever, [his instruction is] ‘Turn the bass down before you even listen to this.’

Before you even get it going, just turn the bass down. Right from the get go. Before you even start. That’s where he’s been his whole goddamn life, so why would it be any different when it came to [‘…And Justice For All‘]? They made ‘Kill ’Em All‘ that way, they made ‘Ride…‘ that way, they made ‘Master…‘ that way, all of them. Those two guys in a room [mimics drum beats and playing], that’s the way it always happened. [For] the most successful metal band of all time. So you argue with this shit? I’m not really sure.”

“Now it’s become the best garage band album ever [for artists such as] Black Keys, White Stripes, Flat Duo Jets, the different ‘power duos’ of garage stuff.”

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