Jason Newsted Says Lemmy Kilmister ‘Was Almost My Savior in a Way’
For the first time since shutting down his social media accounts in September of 2014, Jason Newsted has resurfaced in an interview, discussing the passing of Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister. The departure from social networking simultaneously marked the end of his most recent band, Newsted, and the bassist has remained in the shadows since, both artistically and personally.
Speaking with SiriusXM radio program Ozzy's Boneyard (transcription from Blabbermouth), Newsted reflected on the influence Lemmy had on his playing and the run-ins he had with the Motorhead mainman during his time in Metallica. "I had a couple of very good, genuine Lemmy experiences," Newsted began, "I didn't spend a lot of hours [with him], but the ones that we did were very powerful — for me at least." Citing one of the more unique moments, he continued, "Like when we did the Lemmys — Metallica called themselves the Lemmys [to play Lemmy's] 50th birthday [party] in L.A. stuff like that. There were certain moments that were very special for all of us, I think."
Going on to note the outpouring of tributes so far, with musicians quoting songs and albums, the former Metallica bassist said he didn't want to follow suit in the same line of tributes, adding, "But he was such a big part of us, all the bands that I've been in." Commenting on how Lemmy influenced him personally, he stated, "And especially as a bass player that played with a pick and stuff, he was kind of almost my savior in a way, because I always got messed with because people thought I should be playing with my fingers and I didn't, and he made it okay, and somehow that was something very special for me way back then. So that's how he touched me."
Newsted expanded on his playing style, detailing his switch from using his fingers to plucking away with a pick. He states he played with his fingers early on, but a severe injury to one of his digits led him to incorporate a pick into his playing style. Though the technique is largely maligned by bassists, Lemmy used a pick as well, making Newsted feel comfortable with the move. He also plugged his bass into guitar amps because those were most readily available, furthering a similarity in tone to Kilmister.
When asked about the first time he met Lemmy, Newsted recalled a humorous story. After his first round of touring with Metallica, he and the rest of the band went to watch Motorhead in California. He said, "And [the Metallica guys] already knew [Lemmy], and he already knew the boys, and he'd call James [Hetfield] 'Jimmy' and stuff like that, just to mess with him, 'cause he didn't like it." With heavy anticipation, Newsted continued, "But I was really excited to meet Lemmy; I was really jacked up, 'cause he was my hero, man. And those guys [were like], 'We're gonna introduce you, man. We're gonna introduce you.' So we get back there, and I was just tongue-tied, but I went up and introduced myself. I said, 'I'm Jason Newsted. I'm playing bass in Metallica now.'" In true Lemmy fashion, the bassist noted, "And he goes, 'I know who you are, you c--t!' Like that. [Laughs] And I'll never forget those words, man… forever."
Jason Newsted famously got his start in speed metal act Flotsam and Jetsam, writing a significant portion of their masterful debut record, Doomsday for the Deceiver. He went on to join Metallica following the tragic passing of Cliff Burton, departed the band in 2001 and teaming up with Canadian progressive thrashers Voivod. Following a six year stint, he left the group and formed a new outfit under the moniker Newsted, releasing the album Heavy Metal Music in 2013.
See Where Jason Newsted + Lemmy Kilmister Rank Among the Top 50 Hard Rock + Metal Bassists of All Time
Jason Newsted Reflects on Metallica's '...And Justice for All'