Dave Mustaine: "Black magic ruined my life!"

Dave mustaine

Dave mustaine

Image: © Kirsty Umback/Corbis

TG caught up with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine to talk about his seminal album 'Peace Sells… But Who's Buying?', as part of our thrash special (Total Guitar issue 213 - on sale 18 March). Instead we wound up talking about black magic, Catholicism and Slayer. Here are a few choice cuts that we couldn't fit in the mag, but were too good to waste!

Interview: Joel McIver

Dave, it's 25 years since the 'Peace Sells… But Who's Buying?' album. Any plans to play it live?

"Performance wise, 'The Conjuring' is one of the heaviest songs on the record, but unfortunately it's got black magic in it and I promised that I wouldn't play it any more, because there's a lot of instructions for hexes in that song. Although it seems kinda corny, anybody who's a Wiccan or a warlock or anything like that will know that all of that stuff is instrumental.

"When I got into black magic I put a couple of spells on people when I was a teenager and it haunted me forever, and I've had so much torment. People say, 'Goddamn, Dave never gets a break, he's had such a hard life,' and I just think, 'No, Dave didn't - he got into black magic and it ruined his life'. It wasn't that I was a bad guy or that I had a big mouth, it was that I got into witchcraft and black magic and it ruined my life. Fortunately for me, with all the work and the love of my friends, and not giving up with my guitar playing, I got over it. So I look back now and I think, 'Hmm, I don't wanna play 'The Conjuring''.

"I look at songs like 'Black Friday' and I think, 'That would be a good song to play, too' but I look at the lyrics, which are about a homicidal madman who goes on a killing spree. Now, the irony of all of this is that I said I wasn't going to play it but we've got the 25-year anniversary coming up and people are saying we have to do this record. And I'm thinking that I can't possibly do that and stay true to myself. But I'm sure where there's a will there's a way.

"When I first got saved about 10 years ago, I was really scared and I was basically holding on to anything that I heard in church or whatever, but as I've grown I've learned a lot and lightened up a lot, and I see people around me doing certain things and instead of me saying 'Man, you shouldn't do that!' I think quietly to myself, 'Dude, you don't know what you're doing…' It's a huge growth process."

Tom Araya of Slayer is a practising Catholic, and he goes onstage and sings 'The Antichrist' every night…

"Yeah. Y'know, I really cherish the relationship that I've rebuilt with the guys in Slayer right now and I'm gonna sidestep that, because I don't know anything about Catholicism and I do know that I am very appreciative of not having any feuds right now, so I'm gonna skip that one if you don't mind."

Total Guitar 213 (on sale 18 March to 14 April) is the first to feature our brand new look, wider page format and, with an extra 32 pages of in-depth interviews, gear reviews and songs to learn, it's our biggest ever issue!

Matthew Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.