After 13 years in Metallica, bassist Jason Newsted is ready to start a new chapter.
On March 5, Surfdog/Chophouse will release the self-titled debut by Newsted's new band, Echobrain.
"It's contemporary rock, and there's all kinds of flavors to it," Newsted said recently. "Metallica was meticulous perfection, regimented so that everything had to be exactly f---ing perfect when we got down to the studio. With Echobrain, everybody played in the room at the same time, and it was more of a jam-oriented record. We let a lot of things fly, and the human factor was very present."
Sonically, Newsted compared the disc to work by Jeff Buckley and Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, but he added that there are a variety of sounds and textures that defy classification.
"I like to call it 'tomorrow music' because I like to think it's a little bit different than anything else out there," he said. "Ten out of 10 people who hear it say, 'It's not what we expected, but it's magic.' People expect there to be Cookie Monster vocals and noisy, thudding death-metal bullsh--, and it's just not that. It's very musical and very beautiful."
Echobrain features Newsted, singer/guitarist Dylan Donkin and drummer Brian Sagrafena as well as a roster of special guests including Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, ex-Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin (who plays banjo and guitar) and classical musicians from the Washington National Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony.
The disc was written and recorded during Newsted's last year with Metallica and was mostly completed in June 2000, seven months before he left the headbanging titans.
Newsted stressed that Echobrain are a genuine band, not a solo vehicle or a throwaway side project. "I've got hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in this. It's a real record with real players. When we formed Echobrain, the deal was that everybody comes to the table with whatever they have to offer.
"Dylan has his beautiful voice and his songwriting. Brian has his skills as a drummer and arranger. And I come in with some money and my bass playing and my experience in the business and my connections with engineers. And we all put it together, and whatever comes out of it comes out of it."
While Newsted is excited about his work with Echobrain who are already nearly finished with their second record he admits he misses Metallica.
"The feeling that we got when we clicked as a band coming down on the chord in the same place, stopping in the same place, creating this point/counterpoint, action/reaction there's nothing like that," he said.
What Newsted doesn't miss, however, is the politics and the frustration. "Metallica has two control freaks," he said, referring to singer/guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, "and it's very hard to get any kind of two cents in that monopoly. When it came time to do Echobrain and I got to call the shots on some different production ideas, it felt really good."