Jason Newsted Talks Bass Player Live! Concert
Jason Newsted was recently added to the inaugural Bass Player Live! Concert & Awards Show that will take place Nov. 9 at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. At the show, Newsted will have a chance to hobnob and rock out with such music greats as Geezer Butler, Zakk Wylde, Corey Taylor, Charlie Benante, Frank Bello, Rex Brown, Billy Sheehan and David Ellefson.
Loudwire recently spoke to Newsted about his participation in the Bass Player Live! Concert & Awards show, his fondness for the event’s top honoree Geezer Butler and what drew him to the bass in the first place. Newsted also dropped a few details about the future of his self-titled band and their upcoming projects. Check out our interview with Jason Newsted below:
Congrats on joining the Bass Player Live! Concert What will be your participation in this event?
I’m performing for sure. I’m not sure about presenting [an award]. But I am going to [perform].
There are all kinds of awards shows are out there, but isn’t it time bassists get their due?
Yeah, it’s a decent thing. We’re starting in the right place at least, I’m good with that, too. I don’t think anyone else could have come before Geezer [Butler] as far as getting this honor, that’s all good with me. I’m glad to be a part of it. He’s been my No. 1 teacher for my entire career since I was 14 or 15 years old. I’ve spent the most hours of my life learning Geezer Butler lines and Black Sabbath songs. For me personally, it’s a pretty big deal.
You mentioned Geezer. What was your first experience meeting him. Obviously you’re a big fan, but what was it like to get to meet him for the first time?
I’m hoping to meet him for the first time on November 9th.
Oh, never met him?
I’ve worshiped from a far. We’ve certainly been in the same rooms before and the same planes and things like that. Even shared stages over time but we’ve never actually shook hands. So, that’s a pretty big deal. From what I heard, that’s not really an uncommon thing with Geezer. Not a lot of us have met him ultimately I think. Never too late to discover a good thing and I’ll be thankful to get to shake his hand. There you go.
Music is definitely a learning experience. What is one of the coolest things you’ve picked up from Geezer or another bassist?
Geezer, for me — not really sure how to describe it. Somehow he just got his hooks into me. Maybe he did that with many other bass players too, but he was a lead bassist from the get go. Black Sabbath, there’s a lot of space in those songs. There’s a lot of room for everyone to go off and he was always doing that so supportive and so musical with the drums, very jazz oriented rhythm section in Black Sabbath that just got super loud and heavy. Very progressive. So that was always a big influence on me, having the bass that loud up front like that. That attracted all of us.
Is that something that carried over to your own bands and experiences?
All the time. Ever since I discovered Geezer and that he wrote most of the lyrics, and he was the guy that was really the driving force for the band, that was the greatest impression for me. Probably the first guy to inspire me to be that in all the bands I was in. From way back, any of those people that were the leaders as bassists. Lemmy. Steve Harris. Peter Baltes from Accept. A lot of these cats. Any of these people that were leaders as bassists were a great influence on me. Geezer is the first on that list.
What was it about the bass that drew you to it?
I have two brothers that are older than me, 5 and 8 years older. I was born in 1963, by the time I was 7-8 years old I was pretty well versed in Hendrix, Sabbath and … I was raised in Michigan too so we heard Blue Cheer and a lot of MC5, these things attracted me to the bass. One brother was a rocker guy, had all those records and my oldest brother was more of a R&B/funk guy and got into a lot of horn bands because he played trumpet, still does. But a lot of bass dominated music, Ohio Players, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown. These bands that everything rides on the bass and the funk of the bass.
Also, being from Kalamazoo, Mich., and Niles, Mich., was about halfway in between Detroit and Chicago on the main freeway on I-94 so we were able to get a lot of records and a Woolworth’s store that I used to buy 45’s for 19 cents, there was funk bands. There was garage funk, there were different things that we found that I still have in my collection of 45s of bands that had one song or have a shared single. So, the bass dominated funk music drew me to that as well, the combination of the original slabs of heavy metal, the blues driven Sabbath and the funk is what drew me to the bass initially.
The bass is definitely a funky instrument…
Just the playing and all that stuff. Sly and the Family Stone played such a big part in my early childhood without me even knowing it, I was really attracted to that instrument.
How do you try to bring some of the funk influence into what you do in metal?
I bring funk into all the playing I do. That’s the playing style I’ve formed over time from listening to so much of that music. Still spending so much time listening to R&B and even hip hop. There’s still — take on a lot of funky music into my filters. no matter what it’s going to come out a little funky. I think that the Newsted album proves that. I think any of the songs that I’ve put out in the last year, the last 15-16 tracks that I’ve offered to share, they do have space, funk and groove. It can be heavy but it is quite groovy music, I think.
The lineup for the Bass Player Live! Concert is amazing. Corey Taylor, Geezer, Zakk Wylde, Ellefson etc. Just a great jam right there. If you had your chance, what would be your dream jam band or player to rock out with?
I’ve had the privilege of playing with a lot of my heroes so far in my career. I’ve also have the privilege of putting together a couple of supergroups here in my studio. Over time we did one with Devin Townsend, he played guitar and sang. Dale Crover from The Melvins and Nirvana, played drums. Scott Reeder from Kyuss played bass and sang and I played 6-string bass. That was kind of a supergroup.
There’s been a few like that I’ve recorded in the studio over time. There are some new players that have come up, newer younger bands that I’m very impressed by. I would love to jam with the guys from Muse. I think that would be fantastic, they’re super gifted. Some of the newer metal bands, I like a band called Black Mountain. They’re really musically innovative and they have a male and female singer over cool heavy slabs of music. I would like to jam with those guys some time. I’ve already got to jam with Zakk so that was pretty special, I got quite a few hours with him. Corey Taylor, that’ll be cool to jam with him I have a lot of respect for that kid. Billy Sheehan I’ll just be looking from the side going, ‘Holy S–t.’ There are a couple of, the two main kids from Mars Volta are both very impressive. I did get to play with the drummer Thomas Pridgen a couple of different jams from Mars Volta, that was awesome. There’s a lot of people out there and I’m always open to jam with whoever who will give me the time of day.
Our thanks to Jason Newsted for the interview. For more information on the Bass Player Live event, check out the website here. Stay tuned for the second part of our interview with Jason Newsted, in which he talks about his band Newsted, reflects on the Gigantour and discusses several other topics.