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

Deth Rally

taken from Guitar School, January 1993
Marie Woodhall talks to Dave Mustaine


Megadeth's Dave Mustaine is back with a new album, a new child, and a brand new lease on life.

"My energy could power a block in New York City", says Megadeth's Dave Mustaine. "What I do in a day most people couldn't do in a month." In fact , with four gold albums to his name, Mustaine has accomplished more in his seven-year career with Megadeth than most artists dream of achieving in a lifetime.

Success has not been without pitfalls, however, Mustaine's long struggle with drugs and alcohol could have destroyed a stellar career. "I did a lot of bad stuff to myself, and I hurt a lot of people that cared about me", says the guitarist. "Then I realized how many spiritual vampires are out there who enjoy watching me fall and fail."

So, with a will that's as strong as his picking hand, Dave Mustaine kicked his destructive habits and hit the studio with his guitarist (and "Guitar School" columnist) Marty Friedman, bassist David Ellefson, drummer Nick Menza and co-producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake) to record Countdown to Extinction, Megadeth's fifth and most furious album to date.

"Now that I'm sober, I intuitively know how to handle things that used to baffle me," says Mustaine, whose ominous riffs and hyper-charged melodies promise to make Countdown to Extinction a thrash-guitar classic. "When I'm sober, I hear every note."


Marie Woodhall: How is the new album different than your previous ones?

Dave Mustaine: When we recorded Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! [1985], I was doing pot, coke, and heroin. For Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? [1986], it was speed, coke, and heroin. So Far, So Good... So What? [1988] was me on heroin and freebase. I was addicted to cigarettes for Rust in Peace [1990]. But our new album, Countdown to Extinction, is me pure. I was stone sober.

MW: You really had a serious habit!

DM: Most people aren't fully aware of the intensity of my drug use. I was spending $500 a day for about five years - that's a king's ransom. I had a problem with everything. I would have taken a job at a service station if I thought I could get loaded off gasoline. I even had someone smuggle six grams of heroin into Japan in shampoo bottles - I was really strung out and needed it. I went to rehabilitation clinics on 10 different occasions.

MW: Why did you decide to straighten out?

DM: I used. It sucked. I quit.

MW: How has being sober affected your music?

DM: At first I felt like I wasn't going to be as intriguing a musician as I was when I was loaded. A lot of people use drugs as a crutch because they haven't developed the right relationship with their audience. They don't have the personality to go out and play when they're not loaded. Playing live is a very intimidating thing. I'd love to have a couple of drinks before I play, because I'll think I'm playing better. but I know I'll be worse.

MW: Is it frightening to face your audience straight?

DM: I fear nothing. Nothing intimidates me because I know when I die, God has a place for me.

MW: Is it difficult staying clean and sober with alcohol and drugs so readily available in the music world?

DM: Those things just don't matter to me anymore. Do you know what matters? My relationship with my creator. Imagine a dot in the middle of a piece of paper. That's God. Surrounding that dot is a circle. That's my family and me. Then there's a circle around that circle. That's everything else in the world. Notice Megadeth isn't there. Without my family and the love I get from my wife and five-month-old son, Justis David, I couldn't give a damn about Megadeth. I'm happy and flattered to be in the band, but I must prioritize the things that are essential to my existence.

MW: Do you want your son to become a musician?

DM: He has a whole basket of toys, but he plays with a stupid little guitar most of the time. It gives me the willies to think about the possibility of having a son that plays guitar better than me. If that happens, I'm going to hurt him. [Laughs]

MW: What would you do? Break his hands?

DM: No I'd never do anything like that. He needs his hands to push the lawnmower. [Laughs]

MW: How has being a family man affected your role in Megadeth?

DM: I've been really fortunate with my family. They've been very supportive. It's not easy having a family and a rock 'n' roll career. Some people get consumed by stardom, lose sight of reality, and completely take for granted the things that are important. Megadeth is a flash in the pan. A musician's career is very short-lived, and I'm very grateful that my fans have stood by me. You don't get very many chances. I did a lot of bad stuff to myself, and I hurt a lot of people that cared about me. If I were a fan, I would have said, "Fuck you, Dave."

MW: But you still delivered the music.

DM: Big deal. I was still hurting my fans. I was still letting them down. People would come to see my shows, and if I didn't have the right chemicals in me, I couldn't play well.

MW: Who are some of your key musical influences?

DM: I have a deep musical background. When I was very young, my sisters listened to Motown, the Beatles and goofy stuff like that. The players I deem suitable to qualify as my main influences are Angus Young, Michael Schenker, and Jimmy Page for the work he did with Zeppelin. Eric Johnson is an excellent guitar player, as was Stevie Ray Vaugn. As far as any other guitar players are concerned, there have been some that I really look up to, but I'd rather not give them any free publicity. My influences are my influences. I don't like the comparison game. Comparisons inevitably result in someone being inferior or superior. If I compared myself to you in what I've done with my life, one of us will look bad. And that's not a Christian - or considerate - thing to do. Although that's the mentality a lot of rock stars have. They're really lucky anyone buys their records.

MW: Aren't you working with Jackson on your own line of guitars?

DM: Yes. I have my own production line of signature guitars - the Jackson "Dave Mustaine Series." They're manufactured in Japan, and should be out pretty soon. I wanted it to be exactly like the guitar I have: a 24-fret Flying V, the neck through the body, two humbucking pickups, and a five-way selector, instead of just a pickup switch that goes from rhythm to middle to treble. there's so much more variety with five different settings. It can go from humbucking to single-coil, to both pickups, to single-coil to top pickup. Before this guitar, I used the Jackson custom Flying V. I also had them make the first 24-fret "King V," but they didn't buy it back then. I didn't get my endorsement until later. You have to have marketability and validity when you have a guitar as brilliant as a Jackson, because they don't need endorsements. People will buy them anyway.

MW: Do you like vintage instruments?

DM: I think guitars like Gibson are on the way out. They're an institution, but ads far as heavy metal music is concerned, it's not a good playing guitar - they just don't sound that great.

MW: How often do you practice?

DM: I practice about five minutes a year. The way I see it, I have a grinder that makes gold. If I sit there and keep grinding it, it'll stop grinding gold and make coffee instead. That's the reason I don't play a lot. I have no desire to pick up the guitar unless it's going to generate some income. I write music that brings joy to other people, and I get paid for it. It's not that music is a money thing for me, but I'm a dad now, and I want to spend time with my son. I only write when I need to write. And I make sure the songs are great. That's also why I don't like to play a solo unless it's perfect and right for the part. It's like painting a picture of a house. You don't need to paint a whole village if one house will do it. A lot of people tend to exaggerate their playing. People ask me, "Don't you like Yngwie Malmsteen?" I say, "No, I like David Gilmour better." He hardly ever plays a note. He's much more emotional.

MW: How do you write songs?

DM: I can do it in my head, but it's much more realistic to play it on my guitar. Also, I'm always putting down lyrics. I keep a micro-cassette recorder with me all the time for that purpose. On this album I collaborated with the other guys for some songs. I co-wrote "Foreclosure of a Dream" with [bassist] Dave Ellefson. He wrote a lot of it, and I put the rest together. Nick Menza [drummer] wrote some of the lyrics to "Countdown to Extinction," but it was an abortion. The ideas were there, but I had to put them together. Nick is very abstract - if he were a painter, he'd jump in a pool of paint and roll on a canvas, or stand up against the canvas and have someone throw paint at him.

MW: What themes run through Megadeth's lyrics?

DM: I read a lot. I read "USA Today" and "The Los Angeles Times" every once in a while, and love the comic strips, like "Calvin and Hobbes" and the Marvel comic, "The Punisher," but I don't read that as much now because it's been commercialized. I also watch a lot of CNN and "Headline News". I'm aware of what's going on right now in humanity, so I write about what's topical. I look ahead to where mankind is going, drawing from what I know about history and what I've learned from the Bible. You can't deny that the world is in a state of very rapid decline. There are holes in the sky, and the plants, trees, fish, and animals are dying. Even the dirt is dying. The clock is ticking, and we have to do something. Humanity is being sucked into the vortex of death. But I know things will be righted sooner or later. Everybody has good intentions, but it's actions that count. It starts with yourself first. If you want to do something good for humanity, do it by setting an example.

MW: What do you feel is your contribution to righting the world?

DM: Being sober and successful. I don't care what people think about me. I care that they think about what I do.

MW: How do you divide your duties as a guitar player, singer and producer?

DM: A lot of other people try to do too many things at once. I focus on one thing at a time. If I'm not doing my parts, I'll produce. If I'm singing and playing guitar, I relinquish those duties to the co-producer. There are times when it's really tough for me to sing, so I use this Japanese pickled plum paste. It's very salty, but contains an enzyme that sooths your vocal box. I just take a little spoon of it. It's awful. You might as well be eating rock salt, so I only use it when I'm recording in the studio. Live, I just drink some tea and do a warm-up exercise. The adrenaline makes it all work.

MW: You're a very intense performer, but very laid-back in conversation.

DM: Some people think I'm into Zen, but I'm not. I'm very... I guess the word would be "chilled." But when I strap on my guitar, don't get near me. I metamorphose into "Dave Mustaine - the Rock God!"

MW: Is it difficult maintaining a high level of intensity throughout a live performance?

DM: No. I look in the mirror and see that I'm an intense person. I don't even have to focus on keeping myself that way. It's the way I was born, the way I am, and the way I'll always be.


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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