Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted told NY Hard Rock Examiner that it was his departure from the band in 2001 that was a catalyst for the group to stay together in the long run. Following Newsted's exit, frontman James Hetfield checked into rehab for an extended stay and the album that was being recorded at the time was abandoned. Newsted explained, "I had to be the one that stepped up and made the sacrifice for everybody . . . because I did what I did, they're more successful than they've ever been, they still set the standard, James is healthier than he's ever been in his entire life. I'm clear-eyed again, I'm off drugs, I'm 19 years old again. I got more years under my belt and I'm still the same fighting weight I was on any of my tours."
Metallica eventually rallied back, recording the St. Anger album, recruiting Robert Trujillo to play bass and documenting their near-breakup in the 2004 documentary Some Kind Of Monster.
Newsted told us a while back what went wrong in Metallica during that dark period: "Nobody ever wanted to speak up and rock the boat, throw a wrench into the machine. You know, it was just rolling like a freaking tank over everything that came in its way, and nobody ever wanted to mess with that really. And so emotions, feelings, personal stuff, all that was kind of buried in the hole, wherever they buried it, inside themselves or somewhere else, you know. Then people started realizing the value of things."
Newsted recently returned to the metal scene with his new, self-named band, which also features Staind guitarist Mike Mushok.
Newsted the band released its debut EP earlier this year and will issue its first full-length album later in 2013.
Metallica is preparing to headline its second Orion Music + More festival next month, on June 8th and 9th in Detroit. The band also has a feature-length movie called Metallica Through The Never coming out this fall.