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!

So Far, So Good... So Mega!

taken from Metal Hammer, February 1988
by Dave Dickson

The new Megadeth album hits the racks, the band hit the stage, the writer hits the bottle. Will anything ever be the same again??

"Hi Dave, how'ya doin'?" Dave Mustaine outstretches his palm towards me. Before him numerous bottles of varying degrees of emptiness lie sprawled. About him numerous bodies of varying degrees of adulation are draped. Dave Mustaine, lead singer, guitarist, songwriter and producer of Megadeth, is in repose, taking in the warm glow of another Capitol Records party, this one thrown to commemorate label mates Great White's pre-Christmas bash at the Marquee.

"You bastard." Mustaine is somewhat taken aback at my response to his greeting.

"You bastard," I reiterate, just in case he didn't get it the first time. "People have sworn at me, they've thrown things at me, one even walked out on me - but no one, no one, has ever fallen asleep during one of my interviews... until you!!! You bastard!"

"I did?" declaims an incredulous Mustaine, "Gee, I'm sorry, I was really jet-lagged, y'know... I really did that??"

"Uh-huh, just ask this lot!" I wave in the general direction of the rest of Mustaine's band: David "Junior" Ellefson, bass; Jeff Young, guitar; Chuck Behler, drums.

Of course, at that stage in the game I didn't realize Mustaine was a homicidal maniac, otherwise I might have been a little more guarded in my verbal abuse of the man.

Did you ever hear the "Lone, Crazed Killer" theory? Let me explain. It goes something like that: Every assassin, or would-be assassin, in recent American history has fitted the "Lone, Crazed Killer" theory. Both presidents John and Robert Kennedy and presidential candidate (in 1976) George Wallace fell victim to a "Lone, Crazed Killer", except that Wallace survived, although he is now crippled.

Each of these "Lone, Crazed Killers" kept a diary of events leading up to their respective assassination attempts. I have a feeling John Lennon's killer, Mark Chapman, also fitted the mould. Now this might be purely coincidental, save that the majority of Americans have difficulty writing a postcard, let alone keeping a diary. The conclusion to the "Lone, Crazed Killer" theory has it that the CIA might just have had a hand in those killings.

Frighteningly enough, Dave Mustaine looks like he could be a "Lone, Crazed Killer". He has about him the same kind of nervous intensity that you might expect of the LCKs. You never exactly feel comfortable about him, he has a kind of underlying violence that threatens at any moment to bubble to the surface.

Fortunately, Mustaine has found an outlet for all this hostility. He writes songs. Then he goes onstage and performs them. To that end he created his own band. They are called Megadeth. Megadeth have a new album out, their second on Capitol, So Far, So Good... So What!, their follow-up to the rip-roaring Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? which in turn, supplanted their debut album, for Combat records, the gloriously titled Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!.

(LCK are creatures of habit: Notice how Mustaine always insists on having '...' in each of his album titles? Curious, huh?)

Anyway, SF,SG...SW! is as fine and, indeed, as molten a slab of vinyl as you could ever wish to hear. Sporting such delicacies as "Mary Jane", about a girl who claimed she was a witch and was buried alive by her father for her pains (and you thought having your pocket money docked 'cause you played your albums too loud was tough!), and "502", which purports to describe life on the Megadeth tour bus.

But what set my toe a-tapping and my head burrowing through the closet in search of the tennis racket were "In My Darkest Hour", a mean, moody and magnificent piece, and "Hook in mouth" - a real poke in the eye for the terrors of Tipper Gore's PMRC. Now t here's a bunch of fascist bastards I'd like to set my own LCK onto. Any offers? But we digress...

SF, SG... SW! is Megadeth's finest vinyl monstrosity to date. It takes no prisoners, it kicks ass, it's hell bent for leather - fill in your own clichés, you don't need me. But what sets this band aside (along with Metallica, Mustaine's first outfit) from their contemporaries is their use of melody. In other words, it's not beyond them to actually have some!

This comes as a great relief to someone who's always berated bands, especially metallic ones, for forgetting the simple fact that a song without melody is hardly any kind of song at all. But Megadeth knows this. Thank God!

So anyway, there's me and this Lone, Crazed Killer called Dave Mustaine and his almost-but-not-quite as evil cohorts squaring up over a microphone. I think I feel an interview coming on...

OK, let's start with the basics.

"Well, my name is Dave Mustaine, I play guitar and sing and write the music."

Not quite that basic.

"Well, what do you want? You gotta be more specific!"

OK, tell me how it all began.

"I left Metallica and started this band with Junior [David Ellefson - it should be noted here that the rest of Metallica were reportedly quite happy to see the back of Mustaine because they were all shit-scared of him!] in 1983. We did our first album, Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! on Combat in May 1985."

"We recorded Peace Sells... in September 1986 and signed to Capitol Records - Combat sold us. Then things started really happening. We went on tour with Alice Cooper and visited Europe, Japan, Hawaii and Canada. After the 'Peace Sells' tour, which was about a year long, we disbanded and fired the previous guitar player and drummer, Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson. Then we got Jeff Young in on guitar and Chuck Behler on drums and recorded a new album for Capitol called So Far, So Good... So What?"

Mustaine, let's face it, is not a man to beat around the bush. But onward...

I'm told you've done a version of"Anarchy in the UK".

"Yeah. I think the song generalizes our viewpoint towards life. We feel we're the Sex Pistols of the nineties - we feel we have that kind of energy, that influence, that power. People right now think that we're a brash, obnoxious group, even though we are all nice guys at heart; the thing is, when we get together to play music it gets kind of nasty."

"We're real sons of bitches!" confirms Junior.

So when you get onstage you are a bunch of brash, obnoxious bastards?

"Yeah, but we play good!" contests Mustaine.

So you're saying that you're the Pistols of the nineties?

"No, that's not what I said! I'm not saying that!" says an increasingly petulant Mustaine. Goddamnit, why won't you listen??

"But they were a band that we listened to," Ellefson jumps in, "All four of us. We listened to them a lot when Never Mind the Bollocks... came out and we still do. And [Sex Pistol's guitarist] Steve Jones has started to become a pretty good friend of me and Dave.";

And he's on this record, right?

"Yeah, he rode his Harley into the studio through the back door, and he had a broken arm at the time because he'd had an accident or something. But he came in and played on the record. But he was really happy to do it and was happy with the way it turned out." Ellefson laughs at the recollection.

OK, if you had to fill in a job application what would you put under "previous occupation"?

"'Recording artist'" says a non-committal Mustaine, and then adds: "Ah fuck, I'm not gonna say 'Frontman, Sex God, Death Merchant!'"

My next question ought to be: Why not? Instead I settle for: How would you describe Megadeth?

"Avant-garde," offers Jeff Young.

"You didn't say that," Mustaine points out. "We should probably be leading a fucking battalion into battle or something instead of playing music."

"But we couldn't afford the guns so we bought the embarrassing scandal instead," explains Ellefson.

"We're like guitar-playing terrorists, you know what I mean?" asks Mustaine. "Well, some of us are... some of us play drums. It's better than robbing liquor stores and stuff, you can get so bored with life. Here, when you're not working, you're playing, having fun all the time."

So you got into a band because you were bored with life?

"No, 'cause I like to fuck," corrects the singer.

"No, life was good. It's just that life is better now with Megadeth. This is just what we want to do. People ask us what we'd do if this band just ended," says the bassist, now dictating his own questions. So do tell.

"I'd sign up for a shuttle," reveals Mustaine. But Junior has the gameplan laid out.

"Dave and I already made our pact that we'd shoot each other so we didn't have to commit suicide and go to hell."

"Then we'd just have to stay in purgatory for a while for murder," dismisses Mustaine. Oh.

Let's talk about the connection between thrash and punk. But a lot of this seems to take all the worst aspects of punk, like each person racing to the end of the song, and it all seems so nihilistic. Everyone seems to have forgotten the idea that you have to have a song there.

"And you're saying that we forgot it?" growls the Lone, Crazed Killer.

"No, he's saying that we didn't but that everybody else did," says Ellefson, my savior.

Not everybody, just most.

"We try and make music that's a little more 'epic' orientated, more panoramic, so you can actually see what's going on and listen to the music instead of some mindless trivia coming out of some guy's mouth and relentless, suffering masturbation on the fretboard - we try and have songs that are a little bit simpler, that have a bit of melody to them; a song, that has a meaning, a concept, that's about a personal life experience instead of having to sing about things that are never going to happen, a lot of fantasy and shit like that. We sing about stuff that happens you too, that happens to all of us."

Mustaine is never at a loss for words.

"You know what I think is funny?" asks Junior. "That individually our parts in the songs are pretty complex, but when we get together and actually play the songs as a band, they're real memorable, hook-orientated songs. Instead of this, like Dave said, fretboard masturbation where everybody's just flaying licks at all times, showing off their chops and nobody pulling back and giving each other space."

You can't imagine what a relief it was when I came to play Peace Sells... and heard some melody. That's been my major bitch against the whole thrash thing, that it really lacked melody, to the point where I'd say you probably didn't belong in the same category.

"Yeah, they've forgotten that stuff, I think they're just going through the motions," states Mustaine.

OK, let's turn to song-arrangement. You actually try and arrange your songs properly, right?

"Actually, no. It's a haphazard affair," says Young.

"You know what?" says Junior, "A lot of these bands have good riffs, they have good melodies. It's just that their arrangements aren't right. That's where Dave is brilliant in the large part of our songwriting."

The man stands accused. But Ellefson isn't about to stop there.

"I think the brilliance of this band - if you don't mind me being as arrogant as fuck for a second - is in the arrangements. Because arranging a song is just as important as the actual melodies and hooks that are in it. That's something that is definitely planned out. Right up to the time we track the song the parts are changing."

"Usually, in the past, Dave will come up with something and he'll show me and we'll work it out together. And I'll go: 'fuck Dave, yesterday you showed it to me and it was like this, now today it's different! Fucking make up your mind!' Right up until the day we record stuff we change it."

"It's constantly improving," claims Mustaine, "We're never satisfied."

"The thing with the new album and the thing that struck me when I first joined the band," offers Young, "is that there's so many variations from part to part. A song will be grooving along with a real Bonham-type drum beat, real heavy, and then all the sudden it's speed metal, fast and frantic, and then it's onto something totally different. It's like a roller-coaster ride!"

"It's climatic," continues Mustaine. "I try and write the songs so they come out in surges. It's like you hop in and it falls out so you gotta start up again."

"It's like all-night sex, you know?" Junior succinctly puts it.

Moving on, how come you asked Michael Wagener to mix the new album?

"'Cause he owes us money," notes the LCK.

"Yeah, he owes us money and now he owes us dinner! No, because we'd been impressed with his work in the past," says Ellefson.

"And he gets great guitar sounds," adds the other guitarist. "Of course he was upset - and this is not to put any other band he's worked with down - but he's mainly a heavy metal producer and he's been doing bands like Poison and Stryper, stuff like that. When I called him up he'd just got back from an eight week vacation so his ears were fresh and he went: 'Yeaaah!! I've been waiting to mix the heavy metal album of the century!!' But that was before he heard the songs and then he was totally disappointed. Ha!"

Damn, you just preempted my next question!

"Which was that?" asks Junior.

"Is it the heavy metal album of the century?" Young answers for me. "It could well be!"

"And if you take into consideration there's very little time left in this century, we can say safely that it is," says the modest Mustaine.

"Yeah, definitely," agrees Ellefson.

"If you're talking about the next 100 years, no way!" cautions Mustaine. "'Cause we got other ones to do."

Now that we seem to be getting on so well I decide to bring up the thorny subject of the ex-members of Megadeth, guitarist Chris Poland and drummer Gar Samuelson.

"Chris was a good guitar player," concedes Mustaine. But... "But I couldn't just say: 'Do this!' and have him do it. I can make up stuff in my head but I can't necessarily always perform it. I can think it out but I can't execute it properly every single time. So if I come up with something that's going against my singing - which is the most important part for me now - so if I'm singing and can't play the guitar at the same time, Jeff can do it now."

"But with Chris you would have to totally cheat and break the riff in half. Which was really depressing because people come to know a riff in certain way. Then I go into a lead solo or I'm singing, and the riff they have grown to depend on being a certain way gets performed a different way, and that makes us look bad. That's part of the reason those guys aren't around anymore."

Really? what's the rest of the reason?

"I hate their fucking guts!"

Oh. Anyway, out with the old and in with the new. The new-look Megadeth recorded their latest album and now await the reaction from an eager public, new hope for the wretched, perhaps. But they needed wait too long, indeed Mustaine already has an inkling of how this one will go.

"With the first album we shifted 85,000 copies, this one - I just read this in print somewhere but I doubt if it's true, I know what the figure was I heard last month - we've got advance orders on So Far... of 300,000 already! And I just read somewhere, in this building [Capitol's UK office], that it was at 450,000 units, which means it's like three butt hairs from being Gold! [Gold in the United States means sales of 500,000 units!] On shipping!"

"So, I'm finally getting the gratification for all this work we've been doing. Now it's finally starting to pay out. If everything happens the way all the indications are pointing towards, we're definitely going to be a very busy band this year."

Busy indeed, but why's it all come together now?

"Because the right members are in the band now!" states Young, confidently. Plus of course: "We had to grow up and learn how to play the fucking guitars first!"

But the leader has another theory.

"Look at it this way: We had to wait until Led Zeppelin was completely washed up before we could take their place!"

So now Megadeth are out on the highways and byways of America with Ronnie Dio (who's having a tough time selling tickets apparently) with the aim of grabbing a whole new audience for their raucous, frenetic rock 'n' roll. And what will the uninitiated discover about our young heroes?

"People that haven't been turned on to us," warns Mustaine, "that are offended by us, who think that we're obnoxious and rude and stuff..."

"Will find out that it's all true!" finishes Young.

"And that we're gods!" adds Ellefson.

"Yeah, let's get arrogant!" cries Young.

"Just kidding!" laughs Junior as the Lone, Crazed Killer curls up on the couch and drifts blissfully into a land of dreams.

It occurs to me then: I really should have asked him if he kept a diary...

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!

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