In a new interview with Ultimate Guitar, Devin Townsend looked back on the 1990s and the time he was supposed to do a side-project with Metallica’s then-bassist Jason Newsted. Asked about Jason and the IR8 project which only circled around as a demo and which got shelved after James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich had a talk with Jason, Devin replied:
“I love Jason, man. He was a really kind guy to me. Didn’t take long for us to realize that we were very different, though. And I think that, at that point, we ran out of things that we needed to say together.“
“But he was going through all that rockstar shit too with Metallica and all that stuff. There was an era where that existed, and I struggle with it, because it seems like a weird, psychological affliction, to have that level of success.“
Discussing the issue further, Devin reflected on how fame can affect artists, to the point where it gets difficult to have close friends. He explained:
“You’re ostracized by that success to the point where your personality becomes very much determined by all of that stuff. And I don’t wish that level of success on anybody, man.“
“And the people that I’ve known that have had that level of success all sort of share a similar group of personality traits that, I think, make it difficult to be friends, like really close friends.”
At the time, Devin Townsend wasn’t widely known in the metal world. After IR8 was scrapped, Devin eventually revived what he wanted to do with that project on his solo record “Physicist” in 2000.
The IR8 project, pronounced “Irate,” was a thrash metal band formed and disbanded in 1994. Aside from Devin on guitar and Jason Newsted on bass and vocals, it featured drummer Tom Hunting of Exodus.
The aforementioned demo leaked and, when James and Lars found out, they called in Jason for a talk. As Jason remembered earlier this year, it wasn’t exactly the most pleasant chat with Metallica leaders. He wasn’t familiar with the band’s rules and that he shouldn’t be doing anything outside of the band with just about anyone.