Megadeth Press Articles

So Far, So Good... So Mega! :: Marty Friedman's Stepping Stone :: Clash of the Titans - Mighty Megadeth :: I'm a Rock Star, OK? :: The Big Four :: Rust Never Sleeps :: Good Times, Bad Times, Dave Times :: Clash of the Titans :: The Secrets of Hangar 18 :: Simply Symphonic :: Deth Metal! :: Love it to 'Deth! :: A Kinder, Gentler... Megadeth :: RIP Reader's Poll Winner - Best Album: Countdown to Extinction :: I Was Dead and They Brought Me Back! :: Godzilla vs. Megadeth :: Tour of Consequences :: Mustaine Mouths Off :: MD.45 - The Mustaine Side Project :: There's a Lot of Fire on This Album! :: Dethspotting :: Megadeth: Secret Mission :: At the Start It Was About Revenge :: Escaping Capitol Punishment to Reach Sanctuary :: Megadeth's Really Over!

I'm a Rock Star, OK?

taken from Foundations, September 1990
by Jeff Kitts

They're back. With a new album, a new tour, and a new attitude, Megadeth prepare to embark on a journey to the top.

As the blistering temperatures of summer soften into the cool crispness of fall, the swirling air that circles the realm of Megadeth is also changing. Their world, particularly that of Dave Mustaine, was once a heated battlefield, war-torn by violent confrontations involving the physical, mental and emotional. But those days of turmoil are quickly fading into memories, and a brighter, clearer season is looming on the Megadeth horizon. The violence and self-abuse that poisoned the last few years for Megadeth can be traced back to Mustaine's childhood in the poverty-stricken, racially unsettled area of Santana, California, a city more commonly known as Santa Anna. Gangs like the Crypts, their archrivals the Bloods, and F Troop patrolled the streets like law-enforcing warriors. It was a troublesome period that launched a boy straight into a man's world, and a case of growing up too much too soon.

"My father and my mom got divorced when I was seven, so I had to grow up all the way until I was fifteen without any parental guidance," Mustaine says. "When I was fifteen my mom bailed on me, so I've been living on my own since then. Up until fifteen, I had my brother-in-laws and other men that went to the church my mom went disciplining me. And not just reprimanding me, but abusing me by the way of beating, spanking, whipping, slapping. My brother-in-law punched me in the face one time when I was listening to the Judas Priest Sad Wings of Destiny album. He came in and said that he didn't want me listening to that stuff, I asked him why, and bingo! As soon as he hit me I was up in a Japanese fighting stance called Hagime before he even knew it. I was walking around in serious depression for a long time after that. I just did not respect him, but I still had to abide by his rules because he was my foster father, due to my mom's assignment as far as giving him the right to watch over me." Any youngster able to react to dangerous situation with a lighting fast move like Hagime is sure to possess some knowledge of the martial arts. Since the age of twelve, Dave has spent much of his time in the dojo, learning the art of self-defense techniques like Karate, Kung Fu and more recently, full-contact kick boxing, as well as the control and self-discipline needed to become the ideal student.

"In the beginning, up until just a couple of months ago, I was kind of intrigued by the possession of having flesh weapons. At first I thought it would be okay to have the tools to defend myself properly against the people that were going to jeopardize my health and welfare. But it got to the point where I started feeding off of that intimidation. I like to manipulate people. I like to intimidate people, and I feed off that. The energy where I know I have someone else in my power - that makes me feel like I have their spirit. Those days are very short lived, and they're ending right now. I don't really feed off of being a controller anymore because I've gotten to the level of being an asshole for so long, now I can sit back and say 'look, being an asshole got me here, now I can enjoy it.' Now I'm here and I know what I'm doing, and all the hard work paid off. It's not the destination, it's the journey, and I think right now I've reached my destination and I'm off on another trip. I'm enjoying myself to the point where I don't seriously think that I would want to get involved in fisticuffs with anybody for any reason, unless it was a direct violation of my pride or my family. Even if it was my pride I'd have to realize that pride is a vapor - something that you think you have. You can't possess pride, but you can think about pride."

In recent years Dave has refrained from testing his skills in the organized circle of competition, mainly because he feels that being a celebrity would be more of an obstacle than an advantage. He engaged in his first competition at age twelve, a time when Mustaine first displayed the vengeful attributes that would become a major factor in the uncontrolled violence of his later years. Dave recalls the incident:

"They use these colored paddles - a green and a red. Whoever gets the first point gets the green paddle. If you get a red, you're disqualified. There's no facial contact in competition, and in my first competition this guy belted me right in the face, and from that moment on I knew I was set up. The next time I met that kid, his patella was disintegrated. I ballkicked his kneecap, which I was disqualified for."

In order to excel in martial arts, one must be adept at not only the physical aspects, but the mental as well. Concentration, determination and discipline are crucial elements of conduct in the dojo, and the student must learn to accept the idea that he is and always will be an inferior figure to the sensei.

"There's a serious attitude in there," Dave says. "Humility is left outside of the gym. When you walk into the dojo, it's over - you are nobody, you are a student. There is one alterior motive - to go there to learn and to be the apt pupil. You know no thing. Other students there that know more than you know less than the sensei, and they're still nothing. You may know everything at one level, but you become a no one on the next level. As soon as you start thinking you know everything, you might get hit. When they call, you do it. If you do it and they're not calling you, you're not paying attention."

"I know nothing and I've been doing it for a long time. That's the difference between someone who knows martial arts and someone who thinks they know martial arts. Someone who makes martial arts a way of life and practices it realizes that they know nothing. Your sensei knows all - you're the pupil, and that's the way it is forever, or until you become a sensei yourself."

So does Dave Mustaine aspire to learn the masterful ways of the sensei?

"Hell no," he says. "I don't want to be responsible for giving people the tools and the weapons to have implements of destruction at the ends of their hands. I know that I'm satisfied and stable right now with where I'm at with myself where I don't have to look at another man and want to hurt him. I know that I don't know what they might possess as far as their techniques to immobilize and devastate me. As bad as I could possibly be, I cannot stop a bullet. I could catch the arm, but not the blade - the blade will catch me. In as much as people think I'm immortal and that I'm made of fuckin' metal - I'm flesh and blood and I will bleed."

The element of surprise is a traditional tactic enforced on the battleground and in the trenches in times of war, and when executed properly it can also be an effective tool to administer authority and instill fear within the confines of the dojo. Recently, Dave learned a valuable lesson at the hands of his sensei during a momentary lapse in concentration.

"About a month ago I was taking one of my tests to change levels in my kick-boxing. And he [the instructor] was showing me this combination, and for one split second I looked in the mirror, because we fight in front of mirrors, and I looked at myself instead of looking him in the eyes. If you don't have eye contact, it shows lack of confidence. When your sensei is talking with you, you look him in the eyes. When you look in the eyes, what you're doing is funneling power, you're letting his intelligence, experience, strength and hope be channeled into your inner being. And by me not looking at him, in probably a millisecond, the hair on his knuckles was on my lip. He swung at me, and I didn't move, but even if I wanted to move I wouldn't have been there in time. So then he said 'Okay, do it.' And I said 'sensei, I can't right now because you just freaked me right fucking out.' I was really fucking scared - my eyes watered a little bit. Nobody has ever done that to me before - come that close to me when I was completely unaware and face to face with somebody. When you get into an altercation, you usually have eye contact. Take your eyes off and you're history."

Mistakes in the dojo are expected, but apologies are not accepted.

"You can't say you're sorry to him [the sensei]," Dave explains. "He tells you 'don't say you're sorry'. If it happens twice, then you will be sorry." "So what do you do if you fuck up?," I ask Dave. "You don't fuck up" is the cold reply.

Dave Mustaine is no stranger to the brutal art of the street fight. At times he's been the instigator, a walking time bomb looking for an excuse to explode. In other instances he's assumed the role of the protector, springing into action at the first sigh t of injustice.

"When I first met Junior [Dave Ellefson] we were in a parking lot eating pizza and some guy pushed some hot pizza into Dave's face. So I dropped into a light crane position, which is a form of Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and I beat the fuck out of this guy, w ho was a UCLA basketball jock - him and his uncle. I was completely in control of those two guys, and they didn't do anything. With Marty [Friedman] I would do the same thing, not that I would protect him and fight other people's battles. Junior was new to California, and in a sense there are certain areas in California that are very much like New York, where you have to growl but you don't always have to bite. And sometimes you just have to fuckin' punch somebody out. But you don't sit there and finish 'em off, you just show 'em what's up. With Nick [Menza] I'd do the same thing in a minute. Nick made the mistake in the beginning of saying he'd spar with me, and I said 'I don't spar.' I said 'you put your hand up in violence to me and I'll put you down.'"

Self control is a trait Dave has only recently been able to grasp. At one time he was prone to seeking out trouble, and his self control could be easily lost in a sudden fit of rage - like in this incident from the early '80s involving James Hetfield, when Mustaine was a member of Metallica.

"James and I were in San Francisco next to the Mabuhay Gardens, and this girl ran out of the alleyway and her nose was all bloody - some guy had punched her in the face. So me and James went down the alleyway and James was going 'kill 'em, kill 'em' and this guy that had hit her was fuckin' bombed on alcohol and he goes 'who said that?' James goes 'I didn't say it,' and I was the only other guy in there - so the guy thought I did it. He got in my face, I drilled him, dropped him to the ground and rabbit punched his head until somebody pulled me off of him and stood me upright. And I'm as quick with my feet as I am with my hands and I just kicked him in the head a bunch of times, and they took him away in a cop car. That was under the influence of alcohol, and if I had the opportunity to do it again, I probably wouldn't have went down the alleyway. And I definitely would've said 'he said it, not me' [laughs]."

In 1990, a mentally sharpened, physically cleansed Mustaine is less apt to succumb to temptations where violence is the channel for the anger trapped in his soul.

According to Professor Mustaine: "He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day - that's bullshit. He who runs away, lives. I've talked my way out of a lot of fights. I've walked away from a lot of fights. My ego and my self obsession is not to let anybody talk me wrong. When they talk to me wrong, my feathers get ruffled - I want to punch 'em out, and that's just by nature and by manhood. But now my tranquility and the knowledge that I have is walk away from it. I'll get sued if I hurt somebody. I've been hit from behind, I've been cold cocked, and when somebody does that they expect you to go down. And when you get up, they're really not prepared for what's going to happen. Especially when you come up with that look in your eye like 'dude, you just sealed your fate.' But I'm not like that. If someone hits me once, shame on them. If someone hits me twice, shame on me."

Even when a physical confrontation is unavoidable, Dave has learned to keep a careful grip on the reigns that hold his temper in place, and to only let out the slack as a sign of warning.

"There's a difference between subduing your opponent and ruining him. I would just assume hold someone down and reconciling with him by saying 'look, I have you under my control right now - you're not hurt but you can very easily be so.' If someone struck me, I wouldn't react - I would respond. I'd say 'You know what? You're making a very big mistake.' I wouldn't say 'I'm gonna kick your ass' or 'I have a brown belt in Kung Fu' - nothing like that. I'm just going to tell them that they're making a mistake, and let them decide what that is when they see that I don't flinch off of their punch. If they go to hit me again, they may not be standing up when they're done. My ego and my self obsession make me want to go, 'hey, don't you fuckin' know who I am? I'm Dave Mustaine - I'm a rock star, OK?' But it doesn't matter because my records aren't going to protect me when he's coming through. I don't want to be violent. I'm a pussy - I really am, and I was born that way."

Being away from the touring circuit for two years has allowed Dave to avoid the toxic substance-lined roads that were once leading the band straight into the Land of the Musical Dead, and concentrate more on refining his martial arts practice. But in a matter of days, Megadeth will embark on a pair of monstrous tours - first, the "Clash of the Titans" in Europe, followed by an American jaunt with Judas Priest and Testament. Dave will suddenly be pulled from the new world he's created for himself and thrown right back into the scene that once proved so dangerous. He'll have to temporarily dismiss his physical training and direct his inner strength to resisting the temptations that lie along the road ahead.

"When I go on the road I'm going to have to leave that behind me, and my sensei knows that. I'm more into talking to my sponsor right now, someone who's helping me stay sober than my sensei. What my sensei teaches me is a way of life, it's an existence - sobriety is something that I have to handle every day. I have to wake up every morning and realize that I'm a drug addict and alcoholic, and I can't use a drink today."

"I'm happier now than I've been in a long time because all of the things I've wanted in my life I can do now. I can say. 'I want to paint my ass blue,' and I could do it. The most important thing right now first and foremost is that I take care of myself. And if anybody wants what I have, I'll tell them how I did it - but I'm not going to tell them how they should do it. I mean, I still hang out with people who get loaded and drink, and they might not be an alcoholic or a drug addict, but I am, and I got a problem with it - I can't get high any more or I'll end up in jail, in an institution or dead."

Dave used to resort to narcotics and alcohol abuse to provide that maximum-strength rush that no legal substance can give. But now Dave has found a new way to risk his life - one that may be as dangerous as drug addiction, but one from which his inner being will greatly benefit: the graceful, exhilarating sport of skydiving.

"I don't get loaded anymore now, so I needed a new way to get high. I had to think of the most completely mad, absolutely insane lunatic idea for me to do. Rock climbing's kind of stupid - you go up you go down, big thrill. This is jumping out of an airplane and actually falling - zooming in accelerated freefall at 120 m.p.h. for 8,000 feet. It's like nothing that you have ever experienced, unless you do it. No person, place or thing compares to it - it's like rolling naked in the mud."

"I needed a release," Dave continues. "Dave Mustaine is a fuckin' animal, and I hate that. Dave needs to get his aggressions out. Dave used to do that by getting loaded all the time because I didn't know how to deal with my anxiety, and I had to cover it up. Now I don't, and I have to deal with how I feel, and the best way for me to do it is through sheer madness and complete insanity. I tell people I jump out of airplanes and they look at me like I've got balls as big as basketballs."

"I'm still in student status right now. I've got four more levels to go, then I become an RW, which is routine worker where I can jump with formations and stuff. My first lesson was seven hours long, and every lesson that I go to now is like an hour. If you don't jump once a month you have to take a refresher course because there is a split-second possibility that something could go wrong, and you have to know how to deal with it. I had a bad jump my last one - I spun and was really scared."

You have just been taken on a brief journey through the fascinating world of Dave Mustaine. You've become accustomed with the volcanic temper that contrasts his peaceful side, the severe conditions under which he matured, his extensive knowledge of the martial arts and the required skills, his passion for skydiving, and most importantly, his desire to overcome the punishment he put on his mind, body and soul through over the last thirteen years. The rehabilitation of Mustaine is clear - in his choice of words, his expression, his ideas, his physical condition, and now in his music. 1990 sees the rebirth of Megadeth, sharper than ever and more organized in their attack, as evidenced by Rust in Peace, their alarmingly brilliant new album, due out on October 2nd (Capitol Records).

Rust in Peace is the stinging follow-up to Megadeth's last album, a lukewarm effort that recieved a similar reaction called So Far, So Good... So What! That album was a shining example of the turmoil the band was in, both musically and personally, and it was considered to be a slight step backward after it's predecessor, Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? achieved gold status and launched Megadeth to one of the top positions in underground metal circles.

"After Peace Sells... I was kind of feeling that we could do no wrong," Dave says, in reference to So Far... "If there was another record - fuck it, they were gonna buy it. Now I kind of smirk when I say it, but people either think that this album is going to stink or it's going to be completely mastodon sized. I have faith in it, and even if it bombs, I still think it's the best record we've ever done. I think anyone who doesn't like it is narrow-minded and doesn't see growth with the band ."

At this point in our conversation, Mustaine's partner in crime since the beginning of Megadeth, bassist Dave Ellefson enters. Immediately he chimes in with the confession that So Far... was a poorly handled affair.

"That whole album was very hurriedly put together," Ellefson says. "We came off the road, and we had schedules set up that weren't realistic. We were talking about this, and if we had put the brakes on - not broken up - but just stopped and found the musicians that we think we've found in Marty [Friedman] and Nick [Menza], I think that things would've been a lot different. But we didn't, and we made do with what we had. We can't sit here now and say that Marty and Nick are the two best guys in the world, but there's a certain feel that we have about it. We feel good about it, and that's the important thing."

Part of the reason So Far... contained such an air of confusion and a lack of guidance was because of the pressure involved to surpass such a thorough and successful record like Peace Sells... In the case of Rust in Peace, Megadeth had their backs against the wall and were forced to come out fighting. A word of advice, run for cover.

"I think we realized some things that weren't right with the last record," Jr. continues. "There was a lot of hurrying on that album and a lot of pressure to do the follow up to Peace Sells... With this album we didn't concentrate on the fact that we need a follow up. We just wanted to make a great record for it's own sake.

"Right now it feels like it did when we first started and it was all just a vision. Nothing had really happened and we didn't know if it was really going to happen or not. It was just a vision that Dave had, and it was just our excitement and our energy to go for it. It's like that fire's back again."

Megadeth's current surroundings are considerably different from their past - healthier, more positive. But then again, some things never change. Mustaine attests to this in his closing comment regarding the future of Megadeth.

"I don't think there's a fuckin' soul that's gonna be able to touch us." Yeah, the fire is back.

So Far, So Good... So Mega! :: Marty Friedman's Stepping Stone :: Clash of the Titans - Mighty Megadeth :: I'm a Rock Star, OK? :: The Big Four :: Rust Never Sleeps :: Good Times, Bad Times, Dave Times :: Clash of the Titans :: The Secrets of Hangar 18 :: Simply Symphonic :: Deth Metal! :: Love it to 'Deth! :: A Kinder, Gentler... Megadeth :: RIP Reader's Poll Winner - Best Album: Countdown to Extinction :: I Was Dead and They Brought Me Back! :: Godzilla vs. Megadeth :: Tour of Consequences :: Mustaine Mouths Off :: MD.45 - The Mustaine Side Project :: There's a Lot of Fire on This Album! :: Dethspotting :: Megadeth: Secret Mission :: At the Start It Was About Revenge :: Escaping Capitol Punishment to Reach Sanctuary :: Megadeth's Really Over!

The Realms of Deth
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