Metallica's Robert Trujillo and All-Star Group Mass Mental Pay Tribute to Late Bassist Jaco Pastorious: Exclusive Song Premiere

Brian Risner
Jaco Pastorious

After six years of work, Metallica's Robert Trujillo is certainly stoked to be bringing his documentary about famed bassist Jaco Pastorius to home video platforms. And he's just as excited about Jaco: Original Soundtrack, which comes out the same day as the film on Nov. 27.

The companion album features 16 tracks spanning Pastorius' career from his own work to Weather Report and contributions for Joni Mitchell and Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. There are also five new interpretations of Pastorius' songs, including songs by his daughter Mary Pastorius, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Tech N9ne, Deftones frontman Chino Moreno's Crosses and Mass Mental, a collective that includes Trujillo, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, Skindred's Clive "Benji" Webbe, Ugly Kid Joe's Whitfield Crane and others. Billboard is exclusively premiering Mass Mental's treatment of "Come On Come Over" below.

"The soundtrack in a way is a dream in itself for me," Trujillo tells Billboard. "We really wanted to go deep and do some different tracks, like (Ian Hunter's) All American Alien Boy and 'Okonkole Y Trompa.'  And on top of that I thought it would be cool to add some new versions of Jaco compositions. It was nice to add something a little different to this, 'cause you've had The Essential Jaco [Pastorious] and various compilations over the years, so it was nice to do something that was a little bit different but still include the classics like 'Teen Town' and 'Continuum' and 'Portrait of Tracy' and all that. For me it was very special."

The project gave Trujillo an excuse to assemble Mass Mental again. The consortium has been around for about two decades and released an album in Japan during 1999. It also played at Lollapalooza Chile in March and recorded some transitional instrumental pieces for the Jaco film. "The music is really experimental and super funky, and every time we do a show for some weird reason it turns into a party and celebrity musicians show up. We did our own particular version of 'Come On Come Over, and I'm so proud of it. It can never be as great as the original, but ours is different and we just set out to do the best we could." Mass Mental will perform during a pre-release screening of Jaco on Nov. 22 at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in Los Angeles. 

"It's all coming together at the finish line after six years," says Trujillo, who partially funded the project via a PledgeMusic campaign and has ushered it through several film festivals around the world. "It's really great to have this momentum and to be able to bring awareness and have young people come up to me and say, 'Hey, I just want you to know I went out and I bought Jaco's first solo record' or Weather Report or Joni Mitchell or whatever. It's celebrating music as a whole as well -- at least that's where I'm at with this."

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And, Trujillo adds, "There's so many roots attached to that seed, to Jaco. You would need a nine-hour film to barely get everything in there. We did the best we could. My whole goal is to bring awareness and also maybe that creates a step towards more of a celebration. There doesn't have to be just one film about Jaco. Maybe other people have more stories and can add to what we've done, to the recipe. That would be great."

Trujillo does, of course, have a "day job" that he's focusing on these days, too. Metallica has been in the midst of recording its follow-up to 2008's Death Magnetic for some time now, but Trujillo says work is ongoing -- though he knows better than to make a guess at a release date. "I can honestly say we're feeling great about what we're doing," says Trujillo, who also wrote the guest-filled tallica Parking Lot animated short that's featured on the group's recently relaunched web site. "It's taking a long time for us to get the ball rolling, and we've been nurturing this thing for awhile now. so it's feeling really great. We're having a good time and that's the most important thing, and as long as it's grooving and it's heavy, that's what does it for me. I think the fans'll be happy."

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Metallica heads might also not see the group on the road again until some new music is finally finished, either. "Our fans have seen enough of us in the last few years," Trujillo says. "They're hungry. They want new music, which is great. It means to a certain degree we're still relevant. So that's what our focus is now, a new record. We need to finish this record so we can create more tour dates and get out there and celebrate this music and really get the machine going."