Jason Newsted has played with a variety of acts, including Ozzy Osbourne, Voivod, and Flotsam and Jetsam, but he’s best known for having been the bassist of Metallica from 1986 to 2001. He’s performing a free show with his group the Chophouse Band this week.
What’s the Chophouse Band?
My studio, that I started about 25 years ago—it’ll be the 25th anniversary in January, so after ’92 after [Metallica’s] Black Album. We were doing the second round of the Black Album tour, and we were doing pretty good, so I spent some dough and built a studio. It was named the Chophouse Studio by the Martin brothers—Jim Martin from Faith No More and his brothers used to always come over … and we used to jam together, and they named my studio the Chophouse, and the Chophouse Band has been going pretty much from that day in different forms with people from different styles and different genres of music of all ages have come over to make our musical soup there, trying to get away from the rigors of tour. … It’s a different band every night pretty much. … The last 20 months or so, I decided to start collecting songs. … New songs, old songs—going way, way back. I have some from the 1600s and some from the 1800s, the early 1900s, and then Johnny Cash and George Jones, mining songs. … We do our own versions of familiar songs—some of them familiar—“Folsom Prison Blues” or Neil Young, a lot of John Prine. We play some of our heroes. Some originals. Some contemporary heroes as well, like Jason Isbell. It’s a cover band of forms.
So, it’s kind of an intimate night with Jason Newsted?
Very much! I tell a lot of stories. … It’s new for me. It’s a very new world. We’re going to go play on the radio here in a few minutes in Santa Rosa. First time I’ve ever done that—singing with my acoustic guitar on the radio live.
Your decision to leave Metallica is documented in the Some Kind of Monster documentary, and it seems like you’re making the right decision.
For myself, it was the right decision. And I think it was for the whole camp. As time has gone, and the dust has settled, it was right for the band to continue to thrive today—new album out, kicking major ass, millions of views in the first day? They’re killing it.
There’s a thing floating around the internet that’s a version of … And Justice for All with the bass turned up. Did you hear that? To me, … And Justice for All is a great album marred by a bad mix.
It’s perfect. It’s a perfect album. Sounds perfect. It’s exactly what it was supposed to be at the time, representing what we were as a band. There’s no way around it. I’ve had about seven or 19 people send me … And Justice for Jason! Or … And Jason for All! Whatever they call it. I think they call it both. I actually never really listened to it. I have heard what people have said about the basslines once they heard them, but I try not to go backwards. I’m proud of what happened on that. Every record is a learning experience.
For me, the Black Album was really special because I was 11 years old when it came out, and I listened to it over and over.
When you’re 11 or 13, that’s the time … whether it’s your brother’s record collection, your mom’s, your dad’s, your friends’, whatever—that’s what you’re going to be. If you’re down with the metal when you’re 12 or 13, you’re going to be down with the metal.