Jason Newsted says Voivod, the veteran Canadian thrash band he recently joined, can kick Metallica's ass.
"I have to show respect to them, but at the same time I can offer the challenge," the former Metallica bassist said recently while in New York to master his first album with Voivod. "I'd like to play on the same stage, Voivod and Metallica, and we're gonna see who's what. That's really important to me, as a fan of Metallica, to see them come on and kick ass again. But also at the same time, I think that I'm in a band now that can kick their ass.
"So that's where it's at, guys. The offer's out on the table."
Following his split from Metallica last year (see "Bassist Jason Newsted Leaves Metallica"), the tirelessly prolific Newsted emerged with the less-than-heavy rock outfit Echobrain (see "Newsted, Fans Feel 'Wicked Good' At Echobrain Tour Launch"), a move he now calls a "palette cleanser." He said he's a fulltime member of Voivod now, and though Metallica have yet to replace him, he's not going back (see "Metallica To Plug Bass Hole For Sake Of Tour, T-Shirts").
"It would only happen if [Metallica frontman] James [Hetfield] called me and asked me, or came to the house and asked me, looked me in the eyes and said, 'Dude, come rock with me,' " he said. "I would have done that when I was asked that question three months ago. Now that I'm in this band, no, I wouldn't go back to Metallica. I'm not gonna go back to Metallica.
"If the inevitable 'someday' [comes] and there's a reunion and we play 10 shows for some people and we make it a real special thing that can meet the quality of what we created," he continued, "then I would be a part of it somewhere down the line. But right now, Voivod is my main focus and 100 percent of my time. I don't see a lot happening in the Metallica camp. ... I don't see a lot of dedication to the music, and without that, you know, it's pretty tough."
Newsted noted that his pre-Metallica group Flotsam and Jetsam "wanted to be Voivod," a band that emerged from the underground thrash-metal community with a trio of savage, seminal albums beginning with 1984's War and Pain. But it was 1988's Dimension Hatross and the following year's Nothingface that made critics and fans take notice of Voivod's blend of futuristic concepts and subtle social commentary delivered with progressive, mathematically inclined guitar dissonance, propulsive drumming, erratic vocals and distorted bass.
"I've been a fan of Voivod for many, many years," Newsted said. "Anybody who knows shows respect to Voivod. That's just how it is."
Voivod — vocalist Denis "Snake" Belanger, guitarist Denis "Piggy" D'Amour, bassist Jean-Yves "Blacky" Theriault and drummer Michel "Away" Langevin — toured clubs with Soundgarden and Faith No More as opening acts before Blacky split following their poorly received Angel Rat (1991). Snake left one album later. Piggy and Away soldiered on, releasing two studio albums with singer/bassist Eric Forrest and surviving a horrible touring van accident.
Newsted, who rarely misses a chance to jam with friends, formed a project with Piggy and Away called Tar Rat in 1995. "That was the seed that was planted for what is happening now," he said. Then, last year, Snake came back into the Voivod fold.
Jason offered to produce and perform on Voivod's next album, so they journeyed to his Chophouse studio in California, and before they knew it Jason was a part of the group, making it official during a radio interview before he had even told the rest of the band.
"I get to live two dreams in one lifetime, and very few people get even a chance for one," Newsted said. "Voivod has always been one of the very special bands for people. And I'm the new guy again in this band, it's kind of a crazy thing."
Newsted described the new Voivod material as sounding like, well, Voivod meets Metallica. "It has what Voivod's always had as far as quality and that unique thing that made the identifiable sound of Voivod ... all the ferocity and crazy dissonance of Voivod and the Snake sensibilities, except it goes boom."
Voivod said they'd love to tour with Slayer or the Foo Fighters after they release the self-titled record on March 4.
— Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Iann Robinson