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!

Rust Never Sleeps

taken from Metal Hammer, October 1990
by Mark Day

It's time to eat the reality sandwich as the "Clash of the Titans" rolls into the UK, Mark Day finds out if all's well with Megadeth.

Megadeth are back and burning. Tanked up with the desire to put the record straight and force people to re-evaluate just how good this band are. In the past they've displayed almost perverse levels of potential, both with the technical finesse they've brought to the speed metal genre and by the way they've combined their tempestuous time changes and jazz inspired fury with a commercial appeal that's put them on magazine covers and thousands upon thousands of t-shirts worldwide. Sure, they're not the only band to have attempted Thinking Man's Thrash. But the likes of the now defunct Blind Illusion never managed to break past cult status and onto the major stages in quite the way Megadeth have. Chart hits with old Alice Cooper songs, an appearance at Castle Donington, sell out shows and a good share in the dominance of the speed metal world... They've acquired a few nice severed heads to hang on the trophy room wall.

Plus they're strong on personality in a genre where most bands have little worth saying and no way of communicating anything that should be heard. Let's face it, I doubt anyone ever dreams of being a member of Forbidden when they quit school, but miming Dave Mustaine riffs in front of the bedroom mirror isn't so unbelievable...

Yet Megadeth have rarely been firing on all cylinders. Shedding half the band more than once, Dave Mustaine and Dave "Junior" Ellefson have remained the only firm fixtures of an erratic outfit. For all their abilities their albums have often failed to maintain the high standards they've set with classic tracks like "Peace Sells," "Wake Up Dead" and "In My Darkest Hour." The accolade of being the "World's State of the Art Speed Metal Band" has been conferred upon them at times when they've only really been flirting with excellence - a situation that's all the more frustrating when you can see that they've been toying with the beast, not grabbing the bull by the horns. Megadeth seem destined to be ever unreliable but still head and shoulders above the mundane thrash masses.

Until recently, that is.

The external stimulants have been swapped around. Instead of junk and booze Mustaine gets his kicks from sex and parachuting now. Before long he's bound to be trying both at once.

They've hooked up with the producer Mike Clink to produce a pretty awesome album in Rust in Peace - a record where you'd only find flaws with a magnifying glass, rather than trip over them half way through side two.

With a combination of blistering playing and deft song writing, they've pulled Megadeth away from the edge and they're now racing towards the finishing line and a few gold medals. Now they're eating the reality sandwich and thriving on it.

Dave Mustaine was recently spotted sipping on a mineral water in a Dutch airport hotel, conducting his press schedule with an almost unseemly calm. When your average American band hit Europe the cry inevitably goes out "Boy, we just can't wait to get to Amsterdam!", as they become intoxicated just thinking about strolling across the canal bridges and staggering around the infamous red light area while puffing on some weed.

Amsterdam's liberal laws on the subject of soft drugs make it a Mecca for touring musicians, a must see location on every European tour to be celebrated the way marines used to mark the crossing of the Equator at sea.

Megadeth are not your average American band and Mustaine's having none of it.

You can stop taking drugs but whether you can cut them out of your life altogether is a different matter. Why stick sweet temptation under your own nose? Better to stay out of trouble under the circumstances...

"I am an alcoholic," Mustaine declares, "although I haven't drunk a drop for weeks it's so easy to fall back into old habits, it's so hard to stay clean. That's why I asked the press to visit me here, far away from Amsterdam street life where I didn't have too many good encounters in the past."

In 1986, Mustaine is reminded by a Dutch reporter, he was struggling to remain upright during his last Dutch visit.

If there was a list compiled of likely rock 'n' roll casualties for the late Eighties, Mustaine would have been near the top of it. This kind of information is only coming out now because unlike Guns N' Roses, for example, Mustaine never flaunted his abuses in the press. Backstage he may have been a hell raiser and best avoided once on a roll, but he never built an image around it.

It was a strange situation, considering the fact that he's been involved in the martial arts since the beginning of his teens. The mental discipline involved in attaining a brown belt in kung fu doesn't really fit with the idea of a rock junkie. But. as he said in the US recently "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."

Maybe the self-defense arts brought the discipline and the junk brought the release. "What's the point in talking about it now that I'm clean?", he shrugs, "That's the important thing, I'm clean and I feel really happy about that. I was very happy on drugs, but that's history and I want to keep it that way. It's difficult, especially when you're just about to go on tour and then all those things that go wrong are presented to you on a plate."

The band are about to arrive in the UK on the final leg of the "Clash of the Titans" tour, with Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies.

Prior to the tour - which has taken them through territories like Belgium, Italy and Germany - Dave "Junior" Ellefson told "Metal Hammer" how he was feeling about getting back on the road after a two year absence.

"I'm ready to go - the whole band's ready to go. We've just played some shows around the San Francisco area and two shows in LA under the name Vic and The Rattleheads rather than as Megadeth. Man, it was great and it's weird because there are a whole set of different circumstances. First of all, y'know, we're playing drug and alcohol free..."

Plus the band is fifty percent new, with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza replacing Jeff Young and Chuck Behler.

"Right, it's weird because I'm torn in the middle", explains Junior, "half of me thinks fuck, this is great, here we are playing 'Wake Up Dead' and 'The Conjuring' again! It's really comfortable and I find myself getting into the groove. But Marty and Nick are new guys and half of me is going, fuck, there's this break coming up now, I hope he remembers it. He remembered it, yeah, OK... doing these warm up shows has built my confidence and faith in Nick and Marty as players in the band. It's one thing to rehearse or to make a record. But playing live is a whole new ball game."

The tour itself has sparkled off a nice little controversy, with Mustaine less than happy about Suicidal Tendencies appearance on the bill. Suicidal's Mike Muir told Melody Maker that Mustaine was trying to have them thrown off the bill and hit back by accusing Mustaine of living "at the Betty Ford center".

Junior seems reluctant to elaborate on how the situation was resolved, talking about the tour only in terms of Slayer, Megadeth and Testament. Reading between the lines though...

"What are you saying... The Clash of Egos? Y'know what... the whole way this tour got started was a year and a half ago an almost ironic conversation between our agent and our manager took place about how absurd it would be for Megadeth and Slayer to be on the same bill together. How nuts it would be for the audience and how ironic it would be for the two bands. I guess one thing that pisses me off is that Slayer's management are taking a lot of credit for putting the tour together and that's not true. Our manager Ron Laffitteis bustin' his balls to make this thing happen. I'm really looking forward to it... the heaviest tour in years! There's been heavy tour before but the bands playing were not of this caliber. They were independent label bands and I'm not knocking them but there's a whole other level of professionalism that's brought our bands to this level. Mostly ourselves and Slayer, but Testament as well. I like those Testament dudes cause they dig into the trenches and go to work. They're not whining little kids, they manhandle their music..."

"The whole thing is really cool", he concludes, "It's been a long time in the making. Y'know it's going to be great for the fans. It's more than a Megadeth show, though we're playing a full headline set. Once you start headlining you could play one hour or three hours but I think the idea is to play the best selection of songs you have. We'll be breaking out songs from Killing Is My Business..., songs that previous Megadeth lineups haven't played in years."

Megadeth's been something of a traveling freak show built round Mustaine as star attraction. New members Friedman and Menza have a lot on their plate if they want to be noticed and not considered disposable heroes by the fans. A few people have passed on the opportunity...

Mustaine mentions Jeff Waters, prime mover behind Canada's Annihilator and a man who's name was linked to Megadeth by various speculators.

"Jeff's playing on the first Annihilator album was a complete surprise to me. That's what I told him on the telephone, but it never went any further because Jeff made it clear that he would never leave Annihilator..."

Darrell Diamond, guitarist with the revitalized Pantera was another near thing?

"Well, that was the same thing as with Jeff Waters, a good guitarist but in the wrong band and when I mentioned to him the job with Megadeth he started to moan about Texas and his brother in Pantera and all that bullshit. I didn't want to know after that."

And Chris Poland? The word is that the ex-Megadeth guitarist - who's about to release his debut solo LP - came damn close to re-joining his old compatriots.

"I dig Chris but he danced around for about three months when we could have been looking for the right person. Me and Chris will never be in the same band again. We've got mutual drug problems, because he's been as addicted as me and I think it's better for us both to stay clean and the easiest way is if we're not together that often."

Mustaine describes the only circumstances under which he could have continued with ejected guitarist Jeff Young.

"...if he'd played every gig cordless, from the tour bus, or Cincinnati or something..."

I'd love to clear for once and for all the obvious question - if you hated the guy so much, why did it go so far? How did he end up on the album (So Far, So Good... So What?) and on the Donington stage?

"We were hard up", is his pained reply.

Young was a friend/tutor to a guitarist who came close to joining Megadeth as Chris Poland's replacement. Though the identity of the person in question if fairly widely known (he'd already played in a band with a major label deal - thought little real success), Mustaine asks that neither of us refer to him by name...

"He didn't have the right shit, but he said he could have his guitar teacher teach him the solos. I'm thinkin' that's somethin' I would do! Only one of us can do that! So... why don't we just get his teacher into the band."

"So in comes this surf pussy wearin' deck shoes. I figure we'll have to work on it but up until then we'd had Chris Poland who's a brilliant guitar player who'd just sucked himself into his own madness. After that we decided no more weirdos. So we got the King of the Weirdos, then we got his guitar teacher! I shouldn't have taken Jeff Young on tour with me, but I really didn't see it at the time."

"If I'm on stage and I want something to drink, I walk to the side of the stage between songs and ask one of the roadies to get me something. Jeff had a whole different idea of manners, he'd just shout 'water!' You don't speak to the crew like that, it's not long before one of the crew starts pissing in your bottle!"

"To get things sorted out we actually had to kick everyone out except for the record company. Jeff Young, Chuck Behler our drummer, our crew, our management. Everybody. Chuck wasn't a problem actually. Although we weren't friends we could walk onto the same stage and play with each other. One day would be better than another, but it was OK."

"Some things you don't find out till you go on tour.", adds Junior, "But the funniest thing is now I see ads for Jeff Young's new band and they say he used to be in Megadeth! But who didn't, and what did he do? His contribution to the band doesn't warrant that!"

Mustaine relishes the contrast between Young and Friedman. "If Marty was a snake he would've bit us on the ass. When I saw his photo I though who is this little Martian? He had two colors of hair and a really weird guitar shape I didn't like. Oh God, who is this? Then, fuck, we heard the tape... he'd sealed his fate. His whole life has two pick-ups and six strings."

Junior notes, "I think the first line up and the new line up are true Megadeth. It's more than being a good musician. A lot of people could play drums or guitar for Megadeth, but it's not all in the chops. A lot of it is attitude and conviction."

But you do have to play a bit to be in Megadeth, I offer...

"Oh yeah, most definitely," Junior agrees, "That's an edge we have over a lot of bands in this genre."

The lead-off track for Rust in Peace is "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due." On the one hand Capitol Records are advertising it in "Foundations," the American retail and radio marketing magazine, as "A song for the times...", with the lyrics printed against newspaper headlines relating to the Gulf crisis. On the other they've been reportedly rather squeamish about the actual release of the record.

Junior, I ask, did you set up the invasion of Kuwait as a publicity stunt?

"Ehhh... well, fuck it! It's kinda funny. I think there's a lot of insight in Megadeth... our band speaks the truth. A lot of people don't like the truth because it's too much reality. When Dave wrote the lyrics to 'Peace Sells...' that was a very timely thing. Then we wrote 'Hook In Mouth' about censorship here in the United States and that was over three years ago... now censorship is a big deal. 'Holy Wars...' was written two years ago and the music and the lyrics have remained almost exactly the same for two years, now you are going to hear them on Rust in Peace. Now Saddam Hussein declares an all out Holy War... I guess that's good publicity for us, huh?"

And once they've rushed nearer to the center of conflict by touring Europe they hook up with Testament again to tour us US as guests of Judas Priest...

"We're going to have to put up with those Testament fuckers for a while!", Junior laughs, "We've got a lot of shows coming up. Here in the United States there has been a lot of popcorn, candy assed tours recently. But Judas Priest is a heavy tour. It's an honor for us to be playing with them, because they were an influence on me and their new album is breaking as well, I think they're getting back to their roots a little bit."

Mustaine - an LA inhabitant - indicates his feelings on New York, just one city Megadeth will be returning to... "It's a very treacherous city. A lot of people are afraid of it and a lot of people enjoy it. The ones who're afraid of it can't cope and the ones who enjoy it get off on tension. I get off on the place but only for so long cause I hate fuckin' walkin' and I don't like the cab drivers, the roads are bumpy, the people... The bitches there are so tough, you score one of those girls, take her to bed, you squirt, she hasn't come yet and you're dodgin' punches because you came too fast..."

The day you can't get a printable quote out of Dave Mustaine is the day you hang up your journalist's notebook. Rent-A-Quote of the first order, almost any subject can be guaranteed to bring out the red-rag-to-a-bull effect. Mustaine contemplates his relationship with the press... "Perhaps I've been a little harsh in the heat of the moment. I've always meant what I've said, though. I just feel once too often the things I said were changed so that it read like somebody else talking completely. What's the point of that, I might as well do something else with my time. That's why we don't give interviews to magazines like 'Hit Parader'. Even if they kidnapped my mom, I'd refuse to talk to them, I'd just tell them how to spell my name."

The ability to give good interview is a head start in the music biz race, but it often leaves those interviewed feeling exploited. But according to Junior, Megadeth aren't ready to be gagged now or ever...

"Y'know what - if you're afraid to open your mouth and to say what's on your mind you're just going to feel oppressed all the time. Our band has always been good at saying what's on our mind. Especially Dave, and he gets a lot of shit for things he says. But he's the spokesman for the band. We'll bounce around the tour bus, talking about a lot of shit and then Dave will be the one to voice it for us. That's what's good about Nick and Marty, not only are they good players but they have attitude, balls, personality and conviction. They're not afraid to take no shit!" Megadeth - back and burning alright.

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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