Dave Mustaine reveals failed James Hetfield musical reunion: "we were talking about getting back together and doing a project”

Mustaine and Hetfield
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImag)

Dave Mustaine remains a fascinating character in the metal world – and interviews with him consistently reveal new revelations. The latest is a talk with Guitar.com that suggests Metallica and Megadeth fans missed out on a reunion of sorts; Mustaine claims he was in talks with James Hetfield about a new project.

“There’s three sides to every story, right," begins the Megadeth founder when asked if his reputation for being outspoken may have 'hindered' his career. "There’s my side, there would be the other person’s side, and then there would be the truth which is somewhere right in the middle. You know, oddly enough that was one of the last conversations I ever had with James Hetfield because we were talking about getting back together and doing a project.”

That's the first time any such plans have been revealed, and as quickly as the hope surfaced, Mustaine reveals why the whole plan was derailed.

“Something had come up about the publishing discrepancy that we have been arguing about for years and years and years [this is likely to refer to songs on the planned and abandoned reissue of 1982 Metallica's No Life Til Leather demo that features Mustaine's playing and songwriting contributions], and I told James, ‘I’ll do it but we’ve got to get this stuff sorted out first’. And he said, ‘Oh yeah, sure’."

That's when the problems started again. 

“James said, ‘Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,’ and I said that’s fine; there’s his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere"

“So I said, ‘Now these two songs you and me split, 50/50. Lars didn’t write on this song – you know that. I don’t know why you gave him percentages but I’m not. I’m not going to sign another deal that’s gonna confirm that because I never agreed to that’.

“And James said, ‘Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,’ and I said that’s fine; there’s his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere. And that blew his mind, and we haven’t talked since. You know, I was trying to be really friendly with him; he told me that the last three projects they did bombed, and they wanted to go back and use all the stuff that I was on, and I said sure. As soon as I said that ‘three stories’ bit, it was over!”

That's sad to hear, but it would surely open a can of worms to change those credits as it would then effect the album those songs later appeared on: 1983's Kill 'Em All. By then Mustaine had been fired from Metallica and replaced with Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett

The alleged disagreement came off the back of a period when things had been moving in a positive direction between Mustaine, Hetfield and Lars Ulrich during the Big Four shows of 2010 that saw Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer share a bill. But time can still heal old wounds, right? 

Read the full interview at Guitar.com

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.