Metallica Members Bash Each Other in Interview

March 5, 2001 -- Metallica fans may be flocking to the newsstand to check out the latest Playboy — and yes, it would be for the articles.

The members of the hard rock band are raising eyebrows, not for appearing in the centerfold of the magazine's April issue, but for the harsh words they have for each other in a featured interview.

The sessions, held separately but woven together in print, were conducted two months before bass player Jason Newsted announced in January that he was quitting the legendary metal group after 14 years, citing "private and personal reasons" and "physical damage" resulting from his playing.

During the interviews, Newsted knocked singer James Hetfield for his "limited" but improving vocal range.

Drummer Lars Ulrich added that the singer is homophobic.

"Let there be no question about that," Ulrich says. "I think homophobia is questioning your sexuality and not being comfortable with it."

Hetfield, for his part, weighed in with some opinions on Ulrich, recalling that the Danish-born drummer rarely bathed during the band's formative days in the early 1980s and was not a good drummer.

"To this day he is not Drummer of the Year. We all know that," Hetfield added.

The singer also recalled throwing the much smaller Ulrich into his kit several times, as part of a philosophy that favored violence and intimidation. Ulrich said he had gotten into a few fights with Newsted. Only guitarist Kirk Hammett, a yoga devotee, said he has never hit anyone in the band.

Newsted, who joined the band when Cliff Burton died in a bus accident during a 1986 European tour, was subjected to prolonged physical and mental abuse by his band mates, the magazine said. The bassist recalled that they even turned down his bass on the breakthrough 1988 album … And Justice for All.

Hetfield, according to the interviews, refused to allow Newsted to release a solo album for fear that it would detract from Metallica.

While Playboy said Newsted had declined to comment further in light of his resignation, the magazine quoted a source as saying his clash with Hetfield was "a precipitating factor" in his decision to leave. The source said Newsted might move to Montana for two years and not pick up a bass at all.

A spokesman for the band's U.S. label, Elektra Records, said he had not seen the article and could not comment on it.

Reuters contributed to this report.