Jason Newsted Never Planned On Being A Frontman
The group, dubbed Newsted, released their debut EP Metal in January of this year as a power trio with drummer Jesus Mendez Jr. and guitarist Jessie Farnsworth. A few months later, they added Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, and released their full length, Heavy Metal Music.
Although Newsted has gotten on the mic before, notably in his short-lived band Papa Wheelie, most fans have never seen him as a frontman. He tells Radio.com that he didn't put too much thought into getting on the mic.
"It was not a grand plan, or anything that was over-thought," says Newsted. "It's something that just transpired. In August of 2012 I started making some demos. And we recorded six songs in October of last year [for the Metal EP] and 'Soldierhead' got played on the radio, and next thing you know, it got a lot of attention. The word was out that I was gonna try something again — and I hadn't planned on doing anything else again. It got attention. I got Mikey [Mushok] in the band. And the reason that I decided to go for the vocal thing myself: [It was] my own lyrics, for the first time, my voice fronting the band, it felt appropriate to put my name on it."
"The singing thing has been coming for a long time," he continues. "Echobrain [his first post-Metallica band], I started trying to sing a bit instead of just growl. Once Voivod happened, I started taking lessons from Snake [frontman Denis Bélanger], learned how to sing a little bit better and weave words and everything. And then Papa Wheelie, I started playing guitar and singing, and actually starting to sing in a singing voice. For ten or twelve years, I've been working on my singing voice. And I think it was probably ready for these songs now. It's appropriate that I write the lyrics and sing to this stuff because of the way the songs are built, it's pretty much a call and response kind of trip. 'Cause I can't really play busy bass parts while I'm trying to sing. So it's riff, sing, riff, sing. Like Motörhead!"
He had a similar approach to the entire Newsted project: "It was a really organic thing, there was no grand plan. We were just gonna put it on iTunes and see if anybody gave a s***. And then a bunch of people cared."
When Newsted enlisted Mushok, the band filled out. One guitar became two, and their sound grew from power trio to a full on metal band. It But before Mushock joined, he — and many other fans — heard the song "Soldierhead," a lean and powerful, song both musically and lyrically.
"'Soilderhead' was initially inspired by the Pat Tillman story," says Newsted, whose story was written into a best-selling novel, Where Men Win Glory by John Krakauer. Tillman left a career in professional football to join the Army in 2002. "He was an NFL player making their minimum wage is $965,000, then he got a $2 million contract. He was one of these cats that was built stronger, and could jump higher and run faster and climb higher than other people. He was different, and he knew it and he reached for it constantly. He lived to be a hero, no matter what he was doing. He was killed by friendly fire. He was standing up for what he believed in, and not afraid to give everything he had. So: Standing up for what you believe in. Willing to fight for it until the end. And knowing what your purpose is, knowing your strengths, using them to the best of your ability. That's where 'Soldierhead' initially came from. And the power of the song backs up those lyrics." Read the rest of the interview here.
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