Dave Mustaine on Super Collider, Endgame, Risk and more
Dave Mustaine is a man that could never be described as boring. Whether it be his face-smashing guitar work with Megadeth or his never-ending line of rants (politics, Metallica, elderly copulation - you name it, Dave has an opinion on it), Mustaine has entertainment value in spades.
And the same can be said of his musical back catalogue. While the meteoric success enjoyed by his ‘other’ band after his departure has rankled down the years, the fact that today sees Megadeth release album number 14 says all you need to know about the man and his musical footprint. As the record drops we spoke to Dave about his back catalogue, gear and the Megadeth album that makes him break down and cry…
Writing Super Collider
“When I write I’ll try to figure out how to capture it. Sometimes it’ll be my phone or a recording device, I’ll transfer it to somewhere until I can sit back and listen to it again.
"Part of the first process is locating everything. I’ll be laying in bed and call my voicemail and I’ll go, ‘na na na, na na na, na na’, with my hand over the phone so I don’t wake my wife up. Several times she’d wake up and say, ‘Who are you calling?!’ So locating the riffs is first and then playing them and translating them to guitar. Then it’s piecing it together, it’s pretty fun.
"Lyrics are usually the last thing that gets done. I’m a stickler for lyrics. I don’t want to sound arrogant but guitar is fun for me so it comes natural. The lyric part is where I challenge myself because there’s a lot of people that respect how I write.
"The uber challenge is where you have a word that doesn’t fit and you need to make it mean the same thing, sound the same way but have one less syllable in it. I love word puzzles. It’s sad that you see people with text speak, people are forgetting how to write and are giving up on books. It has been a learning process for me. In high school I got an F in English, as much as I like reading and I am a New York Times best-selling author [laughs].”
“We have a two album thing that we do with people. We try to keep things fresh. Sometimes when you have an artistic relationship it can be chemical in nature and it can become predictable and lose its artistic merit.
"Some people don’t want music, they want me to record Black Friday 12 times on a record for the rest of my life. I get it, that’s a ferocious song, but there’s some great stuff on that record, like Built For War, I love that. I don’t know how I’m going to sing it live, but I love it!
"I was using the Dean Korina for the solos, I think that has such a soulful sound. I used my silverburst for the rhythms because there was something about the wood and finish of that particular guitar that had a punchy, articulated rhythm sound. I used my trusty Marshall JVM440 and my Randy Rhodes…”
“That was [a] cool [album]. It was a fun record to do because contrary to everyone’s belief that I’m a Republican, the subject matter of that song [the title track] was we were going the government and the end game bill which they had written which was about concentration camps and them taking people and re-educating them if they disagreed with what the government was doing.
"I’ve never been loyal to a particular political party, I just sing about what I believe are the injustices of the world. That’s what metal is all about. I mean, I’ve been putting an anarchy symbol on my guitar for 30 years and all of a sudden people are surprised I’m outspoken. I mean, hello?”
“[On being asked his memories of recording Risk] If I start crying right now you know why! Doing that record, we had taken a risk with the record.
"If I had put that record out as a Dave Mustaine solo project people would have loved it. But, because it was Megadeth people imagined it would be something different. If you go to a pub and order a beer and get an ale you’re a little surprised at what you get.
"I think people were a little surprised but I think there are some great songs on there. I really stretched my wings as a songwriter and I think some of my best singing ever was on there.”
Rust In Peace
“When we were doing the Rust In Peace tour a couple of years ago I was standing on stage after we had finished a song and thought, ‘What was I thinking when we wrote this record?!’
"Some of the songs are so deft and complicated and how to play something so complicated with a modicum of melody is quite a challenge, and then to put some intelligent lyrics over the top and pull it off. I was thinking, ‘Who was I trying to impress?” If I had my career writing music like that I’d probably be in a straightjacket.”
Countdown To Extinction
“Countdown To Extinction I loved. That was one of those records where everything was firing on all 12 cylinders and you just know it.
"There we were with three hugely successful records, two of them were platinum and we were homeless. There goes the perception that people think if you’re a musician you’re rich.
"Now it’s changed and you make money from ticket sales. But a lot of bands you go see them live and they’re just boring, it’s like watching old people having sex, they just stare at the ground and bellyache about stuff.
"What happened to rock shows and crowd participation? If you leave a concert and you say, ‘Well, what do you want to do now?’, you’ve gone to the wrong concert. It’s like the dudes at a Grateful Dead concert that ran out of drugs and looked at each other and said, ‘These guys suck!’”
Killing Is My Business
“That was a really mysterious period for us. We were naïve. I had tasted the water with my short tenure with my previous band and I knew what I wanted to do.
"We had a recoding budget of $8,000 for the record and when we got into the studio, Dave Ellefson and I were waiting and Jay Jones rolled up with Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson and $4,000 of the budget was gone - yhey had bought heroin, cocaine and hamburger meat. I thought, ‘That better be a lot of hamburger meat!’
"We changed producer, we had Karat Faye finish it. Dave and I were homeless at the time and we lived with Karat. The peculiar thing though was Karat liked to walk around naked. I’d look at Dave and say, ‘Man, this is getting really old, can we move?!’ It was a weird period.
“It would be predictable to say this is the best line up. If you go down the list, it was great to play with James LoMenzo and James MacDonough to remember how good I had it and to see different playing styles.
"They were both really good players but Dave [Ellefson] is the right bass player for Megadeth. Shawn [Drover, drums] has been in Megadeth longer than Nick Menza was and I think on this new record he’s played better than he ever has in his life.
"It sounds like he’s a certain metal drummer with a lot of Dave from the Foo Fighters. He was pretty flattered. I didn’t want to say, ‘Hey you sound like Dave Grohl’ and he be like, ‘I hate alternative!’ You never know with drummers, they’re unpredictable creatures.
"Then you’ve got Chris Broderick. We had other guitar player come in after Chris Poland and there always was resistance in that shotgun position. They had to play other people’s guitar solos and a lot of the time they would complain and want to improvise it. There is no improvising in Megadeth. These fans love these guitar parts.
“What would you think if someone went up to do Comfortably Numb and did Twinkle Twinkle Little Star? I remember when Ozzy had come out after Randy Rhodes died. A couple of guys filled in for him and they were good players but they wouldn’t play Randy’s solos and I thought, ‘Shame on you guys. You can do these solos, respect his legend by learning his stuff.’ Chris plays all the solos note for note.”