METALLICA vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield has waded back into the controversy over Jason Newsted‘s bass being buried in the mix on the band’s 8x multi-platinum 1988 album “…And Justice For All“. There’s been much discussion of that decision over the years, including investigative reports, allegations from mixer Steve Thompson that drummer Lars Ulrich was responsible and more.
Speaking via the band’s ‘So What!‘ fan magazine, Hetfield had a more nuanced take on why the record is lacking in the low end department. When asked if Newsted ever approached himself and Lars about the bass being so low in the mix, Heftield responded:
“He probably did. I don’t know what my answer was then, but it was kinda done. I mean, I will say, it was not all about, ‘Fuck him. Let’s turn him down.’ That’s for sure. We wanted the best-sounding record we could make. That was our goal. We were burnt. We were frigging fried. Going back and forth [between touring and mixing the album]. Playing a gig. No earplugs, no nothing. You go back into the studio, your hearing is shot.
If your ears can’t hear any high end anymore, you’re gonna turn it up. So we’re turning the high end up more and more and more and all of a sudden, low end’s gone. So I know that played a bigger part than any hazing or any ill feelings towards Jason, for sure. We were fried. We were burnt.”
As for Thomspon‘s accusations that Lars was the culprit, Hetfield stated:
“We wanted it tight. We wanted it fucking tight. That’s what we wanted. We wanted the snare, we wanted the guitar, we wanted everything up front and in your face and really tight. And we thought we got it. And, you know, we kinda know what we want to sound like. Can we sit behind a desk and make it happen? No. We ask people to do it, and they do it.
So [Thompson] did his job. He’s got nothing to apologize for or point fingers at. No one’s to blame for ‘something.’ It is a piece of art. It happened and it ended up the way it is for a reason. And for reasons we were just talking about. We were burnt. We’re traveling, we’re playing a gig, our ears were fried. We were not sleeping. He doesn’t need to defend himself. He was a part of an awesome album in history, so I think he should be maybe be a little easier on himself.”
As to why the band never decided to re-mix the outing, even on the deluxe 2018 edition of the record, Hetfield stated:
“All this [bass discussion] is after the fact, and it’s, like, who gives a shit, man, really? And why would you change that? Why would you change history? Why would you all of a sudden put bass on it? There is bass on it, but why would you remix an album? You can remaster it, yes, but why would you remix something and make it different? It’d be like… I don’t know. Not that I’m comparing us to the Mona Lisa, but it’s, like, ‘Uh, can we make her smile a little better?!’ You know?! Why?”
Report: CLIFF BURTON, The Serpent & Creeping Death (Pt. 1) https://t.co/bJIy9OEN4z @TheMetalDen @Metallica @cfhnyy @EndOfCentury @UrMidnight @OutsideDarkness @davidwilliams80 @metalero_18 @metalero_18 @summermoon55 @CielGris1987 #TruthForCliff pic.twitter.com/Dfe8J3S7JV— Randy Rocket Cody (@rocketmetalden) June 28, 2018