Frontman James Hetfield says being without a bass player is "a great place to be"...

METALLICA‘s JAMES HETFIELD has said being without a bass player is “a great place to be”, as they commence work on their new studio album.

As previously reported on NME.COM, the three remaining members of Metallica previously clamied they would not start looking for a replacement for the departed Jason Newsted until April, when they would start work on their new album.

Now, speaking to MTV news in the US, mainman Hetfield has said that they plan to start work on the record as a three-piece.

He said: “Obviously before we play any shows, we’re gonna need someone playing bass. But we can still write and record and do some things together. We have a total free-form attitude right now, so we could go any which way we want. It’s a great place to be…

“Right now the three of us are gaining strength – the three of us are getting our shit together and whoever comes into this is gonna have to put up with a lot. We’re really enjoying each other’s company and retouching on things we haven’t connected on in a long time. It’s a fun and healthy time for us.”

Drummer Lars Ulrich added: “The best thing about where we’re at right now is we don’t have anything in front of us. We for once feel a tremendous amount of freedom to basically do whatever we want and whatever comes to us.”

Newsted left the band earlier in the year, citing “private and personal reasons, and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love” as the major reasons for his departure.

Newsted was with the band for 14 years, joining in the autumn of 1986 following the death of Cliff Burton. He played on six Metallica albums, helping the group sell 55 million records worldwide.