Jason Newsted Theorizes Why Metallica Copied Him + Cut Their Hair
Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted reflected on the divisive 1996 moment when the rest of his bandmates — James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett — made the collective decision to cut their hair, theorizing that they did so in an effort to copy a move he made in 1992, which came with a handful of benefits.
In an appearance on 'The Metal Hammer Podcast,' Newsted, who left Metallica in 2001, explained that he was almost living in a different reality than the rest of the band, all due to the fact that he no longer had long hair.
When asked if he was aware of the fan reaction at the time, he said (transcription via Guitar World), "People are so finicky," and that it wasn't something he really thought about. Newsted did, however, find the decision to be lacking in originality. "I saw it go by, but just, dude, I mean, come on... Come up with something legitimately... Something, you know?"
"I couldn't really be included in that deal because I cut my hair in 1992, and so those guys didn't do it until '96. I did crazy shit from '92 to '96," he explained and offered, "You know what's really funny...? When we started getting to more countries, and as the borders started to get a little squirrely and those guys all still had their shaggy hair, and I was slick, and sometimes just freaking nice — like a cop or something. I just cruised right through customs, bro, cruise right through. 'This way, mister...' And those fuckers would get left and right."
Metallica in 1996
Detailing the security troubles his bandmates faced, Newsted went on, "James would get pulled all the god damn time, Lars would get pulled a lot because he always looked so fucking tired and... I mean, when he decides to go [party], he'd take down a gallon, he'd be way swollen and fucking sweaty the next 30 hours, all fucked up because he goes hard. When we're going for it, we're going for it."
There was a price to pay for the hard-partying, though, and one that went beyond physical ailments.
"When you have that kind of look on you, going through the airport, they're thinking maybe you swallowed something, maybe they're trying to hide something, you put something up your ass and it broke, something like that," Newsted reasoned and continued, "'Why are you so sweating and clammy and shit?' So they'd pull him, I'd walk right on through. And after a while they saw how this was easy to do, and like, I started dating models, Playboy girls, and stuff, and they were going, 'What the fuck?'"
Before buzzing off most of his hair though, Newsted opted for something more in the middle of a full-on haircut while maintaining perceived credibility among metal fans who found haircuts to be a sign of selling out — 'The Newsted,' as he calls it, which was a shaven approach to the sides while leaving the top lengthy, as seen below.
"I did my shave thing for a while, the Newsted, the sides clean, did that for a while, and then James slowly did it, and then Kirk slowly did it, so they both did it, all three of us had that at one point," the bassist recalled. "So the next thing — we were going to take it all off. Years later, they take it all off, I don't know. There's something to that."
Listen to the full podcast episode below.