Dave Mustaine says there’s a “good possibility” he will write music with James Hetfield again

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage)

Dave Mustaine says stubbornness and the hope of writing music with Metallica’s James Hetfield is part of the secret to his longevity – and he thinks there is a “good possibility” that the two might collaborate in the future.

Mustaine’s exit from Metallica in 1983 is one of the most legendary stories in metal, setting the scene for decades of acrimony, offering no shortage of motivation for Mustaine to make Megadeth the preeminent thrash band in the world. 

But over time there has been a thawing, and in a recent interview with VWMusic, Mustaine admits that he still harbours ambitions of writing again with Hetfield, and if anger over his ouster lit the flame under Megadeth, the possibility of a reconciliation with Hetfield, and the chance to combine their electric guitar talents once more, remains a motivating factor to stay in the game.

“I have been secretly hoping there’d be a day where James [Hetfield] and I can write together again,” he said. “I think the world really does want us to do that, and I think there is a pretty good possibility of it happening down the line. 

“I do think that it’s possible that one day James is going to come around and that he and I are going to be able to do something together again. I guess that’s one of the things that has always kept me pushing forward. I think it’d be good for Megadeth, and it could be great for Metallica too.”

Mustaine also noted that his stubbornness – or being a “perpetual badass” as some people have called him, plays a part too.

“One of the other things, as far as longevity is concerned, is that some people have called me a ‘perpetual badass,’” said Mustaine. “I remember the first time I heard that, and I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds like a Kid Rock album title.’ [Laughs]. But I understand it because when you’re not willing to give up, that’s when a lot of people can start to draw strength from you.”

I do think that it’s possible that one day James is going to come around and that he and I are going to be able to do something together again

As to what form such a Mustaine/Hetfield project would take, Mustaine does not say.  The pair have shared the stage on a number of occasions, such as the Big Four tour in 2010 that put Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax on the same bill. In 2011, he joined Metallica for a run-through of Phantom Lord, a Kill 'Em All track co-written by Mustaine.

A few weeks back, Mustaine revealed to Classic Rock that he texted Hetfield his support after the Metallica frontman admitted to feeling insecure about his guitar playing.

“I said: ‘James, I love you and I really like your playing.’ He didn’t answer. Of course not,” said Mustaine. “Why would he? The point is I wanted him to know that I’ve had those feelings too, but I don’t now.”

Mustaine said that when he joined the band, Hetfield had not yet learned how to play guitar, but is someone he now considers one of the best metal guitar players on the planet – a marked change from the days when Mustaine would introduce Mechanix with a dig to Metallica’s The Four Horsemen, as though they played it too slow. Now he says Hetfield has no reason to feel insecure.

“For him to have those feelings, that’s a lie, because he’s a mind-blowingly talented guy,” said Mustaine. “So I just felt I needed to say something to him. I didn’t tweet it. I didn’t want anybody to know what I said.”

Megadeth’s new album, The Sick, The Dying…And The Dead is out now via UMe. Mustaine and co are presently on tour across the States with Five Finger Death Punch. See Megadeth for full dates.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.