Megadeth Interviews


On the Phone with Dave :: Out to Lunch :: So Far, So Good for Megadeth :: Rust in Peace :: Dave the Human, Mustaine the Artist :: A Founding Forefather of Thrash :: The Outside Corner :: Music Is Our Business... And Business Is Good :: Deth Rally :: Trial by Fire :: Megadeth Conquers Globe :: Megadeth: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered :: Shooting from the Hip :: I Made It Home Alive! :: So Far, So Good... Now What? :: Megadeth: Online and Onstage :: Sodom and Gomorra :: Metal Is Still Their Business... But Who's Buying? :: Shooting from the Hip II :: Country and Western :: Metal Church :: Get in the Van :: Foreclosure of a Team :: Last Men Standing :: Without the MTV Support :: Set the World on Fire :: Dave Mustaine University :: Heavy Metal Marines :: The Real Line-up of Megadeth :: Risk Factor :: The World Will End in Megadeth :: Megadeth: Crush'em with Ferocity and Finesse :: An Ugly American :: Try to Sue Capital Records! :: Big Boys :: We're Pissed Off Again :: Dave Mustaine's Symphony of Reconstruction :: It Wasn't Fun Anymore :: Metallidethica :: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Been Asking :: Dave Ellefson: Life After Megadeth :: Die Another Day

Metal Is Still Their Business... But Who's Buying?

taken from Guitar Magazine, August 1997
Jon Chappell talks to Dave Mustaine


Dave Mustaine, lead singer and guitarist of Megadeth, has been fighting the good fight for 14 years. After splitting with Metallica (whose first two albums contain six songs of Mustaine co-writes), he formed Megadeth and successfully forged his own vision of a metal world. So far, Megadeth has produced seven albums (coincidentally, the same number as Metallica), and the last three, Countdown to Extinction, Rust in Peace, and Youthanasia, have all gone platinum. Megadeth's newest release, Cryptic Writings, is perhaps their most ambitious - and accessible - effort yet. It features string sections, electric sitar, multiple layers of guitar, a harmonica solo, cut-and-pasted audio samples, and various other production virtuosity that shows their ever evolving approach to music. And while their leader is evolving too - no longer the angry youth on the rebound from Metallica, and in the primordial ooze of his new band - the principal songwriter and driving rhythmic force behind Megadeth is still one intense dude.

"When I left Metallica, I was angry. Really, really angry," recalls Mustaine as he sits forward on his chair. He smiles as he says this, but his eyes flash a narrow beam as if to say I'm smiling, but it's not really that funny. "That's why the songs on Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! are so out there. It was an all-out-flat, balls-to-the-wall, fuck-everybody, I'm-not-dead, angst-driven record. I no longer have to carry that emotional wreckage of the past with me to produce a good song. When I sing the song, the emotion comes right back up. It's like, you put your glove on, you're supposed to catch the ball: you pick up the bat you're supposed to hit the ball, you know?"


Jon Chappell: Can you look at Killing Is My Business... in any other light - other than just a reaction to your state of mind at the time?

Dave Mustaine: Well, I think for me, that one was my punk/speed thrash/heavy metal offering to the world to let them know, hey, Megadeth and Metallica may not be the same thing, but I'm not rolling over. But I see all the albums a certain way, as descriptive of a period. Killing... was the punk/angst record, Youthanasia was the melodic record, Countdown to Extinction was the creative record, Rust in Peace was the "Thrash Hits" record, and So Far, So Good... So What? was the experimental record. They're definitely pivotal records as far as that goes.

JC: Your guitar sound in Cryptic Writings is as clear and focused as it's ever been.

DM: I agree... and that was Dan Huff, the producer. I walked into the studio and there were 20-plus amplifier heads. There was Marshalls, there was classic Marshalls, vintage Marshalls, new Marshalls, there was modified Marshalls, Soldanos, Egnaters, Matchless, Laney, Orange, Peavey Ultra, Peavey 5150, Fender Bassmans, Mesa/Boogies... everything. And I'm looking at all these amps, and I went, "Shit, this looks like some dope salesman's garage that, like, sells pot next to GIT or something," you know? [Laughs] I didn't go out in the studio, 'cause it was just too loud. I used a Jackson KV-1 - made of korina - and a Gibson SG for most of the record, and I used a Fernandes Strat for the wang bar part in "Sin" and for the solo in "The Disintegrators."

JC: A lot of people think of Megadeth as being all about destruction and nihilism, but you're not about that at all, if you really listen to the lyrics.

DM: Aesop was one of my favorite writers as a child, and there's some moral to every story, and that's what I try to inject into our music - is that there is always some kind of... not necessarily a message per se, but there's some kind of twist to it, and it's for the listener to find that. Pretty much like a hard rock, heavy metal kind of Easter egg hunt, you know? What is the special meaning of this song to you?

JC: And that message is often couched in humor.

DM: There's definitely humor, I'm a funny guy. I love to laugh. It's one of the best things I've ever experienced. A lot of times in the past, my laughter was based on other people's misfortune, but today I can see the world and it's people are very funny. There's a lot of humor in everything. You look for the good in people and you look for what's funny instead of what's bad and depressing.

JC: When you draw on the human condition, do you make it specific in your songs?

DM: Well, it's probably a little bit... I want to say nebulous, but I don't know if that's the right word for what I'm trying to say. It's a little bit all-encompassing when it comes down to certain topical things. I don't want to single out any specific causes because I'm not going to be like a champion for any specific cause, because constants change. When I see people get involved in things, all of a sudden it's no longer what the cause is about, it's who the person is. I don't want to go down as somebody who's a martyr for some dumb thing. I want to be somebody who experiences everything.

JC: Including the dark side... you have some disturbing imagery in your music.

DM: Of course. But the thing is, I also know how to be able to talk about things that are very volatile and very explosive... stuff that's almost forbidden, taboo, and I can put it in a way that the listener would be willing to hear it.

JC: Such as a child molestation?

DM: Sure. We did that in "Family Tree." Or things like what happens when someone dies unexpectedly, and the person's feeling grief. What would you want to see if you went back? I'd say, to all the world, to all my friends, I love you, I must part. That's what I wanted to say. If I died right now, and my wife and son never got to see me again, I would hope and pray that I would be able to, for a moment, just go back and tell them I love them. Let them know it's my time.

JC: Is that based on something personal - someone who left you too soon?

DM: No. It's just, I've come close to dying a couple of times with extracurricular activities that I was participating in, which I haven't done for quite a while now, and that's very well documented. The point is, I know that a lot of people learn from what I'm talking about, and I'm not trying to teach anybody anything. I set an example for myself to follow, and my standards are very high.

JC: That applies to the music of Megadeth too, right?

DM: That's exactly how it is with my guitar playing. I want to make sure that I set a very high standard for my guitar playing, and songwriting is more important to me than doing solos, because there are so many fabulous guitar players out there that solo. You got guys like Steve Vai and Satriani and Eric Johnson and Tony MacAlpine. You got Marty Friedman. Marty's a shredder.

JC: He's one of the best.

DM: Of course he is. But the thing is, Marty is in direct subordination to the entity that is Megadeth. He's part of this team, but he knows that the whole is greater than the parts, just like I do. I did my side-project thing with MD.45. Megadeth is much bigger than that, and that's the beauty of all this stuff. Because of Megadeth, we've been able to do other things, so I'm also in direct subordination to what Megadeth is about.

JC: And do you feel the pressure to "feed the monster?" To make Cryptic Writings the fourth consecutive platinum album?

DM: Most definitely. I think the only way this record won't go platinum is if the world ends today or some idiot at the pressing plant burns the place to the ground. I really, really believe that this is our best record to date. I'm looking back at all the other records, I think Countdown... was better than Youthanasia. I think that Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? was better than So Far, So Good... So What? Rust in Peace was a record that always stands on it's own feet. The best record that I believe we ever made, as far as heaviness is concerned, is Rust in Peace and Peace Sells..., and the best melodic record that we ever made was Countdown to Extinction, and I believe the record that pretty much sums up our whole existence from day one, note one, record one, song one to now, is Cryptic Writings. This record was very important to me to put some personal demons behind me. And traveling the world and doing promo, it's really weird, because people who have come into my life based on my personal and psychological behavior at the time, whether they got in the way of the steamroller that was Dave Mustaine, or were part of the paving crew, everybody's coming around right now and we're being able to set everything right for the record about the past. A lot of people are saying, "Dave, I'm so glad you guys did not sell out."

JC: A criticism that has been leveled at Metallica.

DM: Well, a lot of people think that I have some kind of ongoing war with Metallica.

JC: Because of your past relationship?

DM: Yeah, but as far as any kind of feud or anything, there is no feud. You've got me saying that I think James is one of the greatest rhythm guitar players and songwriters in the world, and you've got him saying that I can write a damned good riff, too. And it's cool, because it's over. Both sides are acknowledging the greatness of each other, and it would be really bitchin' to do something with James some day. It would be really interesting to go when Dave and James got together, because the world as we knew it ended that day. When I plugged in and James put his guitar on for the first time, it was over.

JC: What was?

DM: The world as we knew it, as far as heavy metal is concerned. It changed. We changed the way music was played forever. The way that music was written forever changed.

JC: Does it bother you that people don't realize you were a founding member of Metallica?

DM: Well, yeah. Ozzy Osbourne and myself are the only two people in the history of the music world that have been in the two biggest heavy metal bands of that era. Ozzy and Black Sabbath were massive at that time. Metallica came out, and I've been in Metallica and Megadeth. I am what Ozzy was. Not necessarily insane and eating bats and stuff like that, but he and I are very similar, even though we're totally different. But people think I'm influenced by Metallica. Well, if that's true, then you're really influenced by me, too, if you're influenced by Metallica. And if people are influenced by Megadeth, then they're really influenced by Metallica, too.


On the Phone with Dave :: Out to Lunch :: So Far, So Good for Megadeth :: Rust in Peace :: Dave the Human, Mustaine the Artist :: A Founding Forefather of Thrash :: The Outside Corner :: Music Is Our Business... And Business Is Good :: Deth Rally :: Trial by Fire :: Megadeth Conquers Globe :: Megadeth: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered :: Shooting from the Hip :: I Made It Home Alive! :: So Far, So Good... Now What? :: Megadeth: Online and Onstage :: Sodom and Gomorra :: Metal Is Still Their Business... But Who's Buying? :: Shooting from the Hip II :: Country and Western :: Metal Church :: Get in the Van :: Foreclosure of a Team :: Last Men Standing :: Without the MTV Support :: Set the World on Fire :: Dave Mustaine University :: Heavy Metal Marines :: The Real Line-up of Megadeth :: Risk Factor :: The World Will End in Megadeth :: Megadeth: Crush'em with Ferocity and Finesse :: An Ugly American :: Try to Sue Capital Records! :: Big Boys :: We're Pissed Off Again :: Dave Mustaine's Symphony of Reconstruction :: It Wasn't Fun Anymore :: Metallidethica :: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Been Asking :: Dave Ellefson: Life After Megadeth :: Die Another Day

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