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Newsted Energized for Ozzfest Double Duty

Double duty wasn’t necessarily what new Voivod member (and recently announced Ozzy Osbourne bassist) Jason Newsted had in mind when he left Metallica over two years ago, but that’s exactly what he’ll be doing this summer as Voivod and Ozzy play Ozzfest 2003.

Despite the need for two sets of everything (clothes, amps, etc.), Newsted tells Billboard.com that he’s up for the challenge.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” he says. “I know it is going to be a lot of work, but it is something that you can’t let pass you by. Now, I have one foot into the biggest rock enterprise in the world, and one foot into the coolest underground band of the world. So, it’s a good place to be.”

Interestingly, Newsted’s departure from Metallica set in motion a series of events, which eventually led to Osbourne’s bassist Robert Trujillo and Newsted switching hard rock icon camps. Overall, Newsted says he couldn’t be happier. “That’s pretty crazy to be able to step from a big band to a bigger band,” says Newsted.

As for Voivod, that relationship began over a decade ago when Newsted befriended the Canadian group and even recorded a track for its 1996 disc “Phobos,” with the idea of recording together in the future. Finally, with original vocalist Denis “Snake” Belanger back in the fold, the band recruited Newsted to play on its 13th album, a self-titled record released on Newsted’s label Chophouse Records.

“Snake finally came back in and got in the room with the amps all facing each other, and playing 125 decibels, and just like the old days of Flotsam & Jetsam, or when we first started in garage bands, that same type of feeling,” recounts Newsted. “And after about three days of really loud, we decided it was something we had to revive and make it live all over again. So, here we are. The initial plan was not to revive the band, anything other than just record, and it kind of surprised us, I guess. It was a pleasant surprise.”

Voivod is currently on the road opening for Sepultura, a bill which plays Anaheim, Calif., tonight (April 21). In mid-May, Newsted joins Osbourne and company to begin rehearsals for Ozzfest 2003. In the meantime, Newsted is enjoying the intimacy of the band’s current club tour.

“Being able to see everybody’s eyes, being able to see everybody’s reaction to what takes place in the intimacy of it, it is fantastic,” says Newsted. “When the ceiling is sweating and it’s just ‘Brrrrrraaaa,’ that’s the real deal. It helps you remember why you are doing it. So, we get the best of both worlds this year. We get to go out in front of huge crowds, and we get to see these intimate crowds at the same time. Most of these rooms will be packed and the energy will be there – that’s all that matters. There could be 10 people and it doesn’t matter. If the energy is there, then we’re good.”

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