James Hetfield & Lars Ulrich reflect on Jason Newsted leaving Metallica: “We weren’t equipped”

James Heftfield and Lars Ulrich feel they “weren’t equipped” to handle bassist Jason Newsted leaving Metallica.

Newsted, of course, exited the legendary metal outfit in 2001 in part to work on other projects. His departure was a sore spot for Hetfield and Ulrich, who felt Newsted releasing his own music was a betrayal of Metallica. The bad blood was explored in great detail in the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster.

In an interview Wednesday with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, Hetfield and Ulrich expressed regret about how they handled Newsted leaving.

“Jason is the only member of Metallica who has ever left willingly,” Ulrich says. “That in itself is a statistic. And the resentment from James and I was just so…You can’t do that. You can only leave if we want you to leave. And then we weren’t equipped at the time to do a deep dive into why he was leaving.”

The drummer continued, “You can see 20 years later, it makes complete sense. We write the songs. We make the decisions. We do all of it. You have no creative outlet in this band. You have no creative voice. Then when you go and do something that gives you satisfaction in a way for you to express yourself to the rest of the world, then we get p***ed at you. Then that resentment then goes to you leaving the band.”

If something similar happened with Metallica today, Hetfield feels he’d handle it differently.

“If it was like that right now, say, [current bassist] Robert [Trujillo] comes and says, ‘Hey, I’m done here’…I would fight for him,” he said. “I didn’t know about the fight back then.”

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