Jason Newsted about fronting his own band
Being on stage for years, Jason Newsted only recently discovered his new role as a frontman of his own band. In the group by the name Newsted he plays bass, sings and sometimes also plays guitar. We had a chance to ask about all that during an interview regarding his latest “Heavy Metal Music” album.
TopGuitar: How do you feel as a frontman? Is this what you always wanted to do since watching Ted Nugent rule the stage when you were 12?
Jason Newsted: I think that everybody wants to be the frontman whether they eventually end up as bassists or drummers. I really do somewhere inside and I always have. Before Flotsam and Jetsam had a singer, before Eric A.K. [Knutson] came, I was the singer for the band trying to play bass and sing through Iron Maiden songs and Tank and Motorhead and stuff. And then all through different bands like Voivod, Echobrain and so on I always felt I want to sing. Now I’ve worked hard enough on it and practiced to have it getting better. For the last eight to ten years I’ve really been trying to develop my singing voice, mostly by playing guitar in Papa Wheelie. I found it much easier because you just hit the chords and let them fly and then actually try to sing a melody. So now I’ve adapted that to the bass, which is much harder to play bass and sing than it is to play guitar and sing. As far as I think anyway, as far as when you play the bass you must be down to the concrete and groove. So the songs that I’m making out for this band are forced into a “call and response” type of composition: I play the riff, then I sing, I play the riff, and I sing, that kind of stuff. Vocal-band response, vocal-band response – that’s the only way I can really execute it. So it’s a challenge every time live for sure, but it’s awesome, and I love the challenge. It’s great being the frontman. I love the fact that I can choose what gets said to the people in between the songs. Not only what I’m singing in my lyrics about being positive and standing up for yourself and that kind of thing, but also from the stage in between the songs I get to tell the people how happy I am to be with them, how proud we should be to be together and that we’ve grown metal music into this giant and all stuff like that. It’s very important to me.
TopGuitar: So can you say that in a way you – literally – have finally found your own voice? Do you feel that this is the place that your whole career has been leading you towards?
Jason Newsted: Yeah, it’s great, man. I didn’t realize it until I have been into it for a few weeks. There’s a certain destiny and it’s like a chromatic thing that because I spent time with fans over the years, I’ve been on my way to try to be with the people and establish that connection for so long, it’s now coming back to me – the respect and positive energy. It really makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing, like I’m absolutely supposed to be doing this. I DID NOT PLAN TO DO THIS. I never ever thought I would go back out on tour this way, let alone put my f***ing name on a band! You know, I never had any trouble with coming up with band names or titles or cool shit, I never did. I could have come up with a bunch of names, but this thing is just right this time. It’s the first band that I ever got to put together in 32 years. Just like you said man, I’ve only ever joined a band that already has been established, I’ve only ever come in as a new engine. I never got to say “you, you and you are my support system, I’m gonna put my name on it, I wanna be in the front and I’m singing my words to my music, are you guys with me?”. It’s a really, really different kind of concept. So my answer is: yes, I’m supposed to be here, I’m happy to be here! It’s obvious that this was supposed to happen, because I never planned it. And I don’t have any kind of silly grand expectations like “[blabber] we’ll be the biggest band ever” and all that shit, not at all! I’m doing this because I WANT TO DO IT. I’m not making one penny on any of these shows, not a f***ing cent! I’m bringing them out, I’m playing this music for the people, because that’s what I want to do now, not because it has anything to do with any money. And I want everybody to understand that.