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

Heavy Metal Marines

taken from launch.com, September 1999
Darren Davis talks to Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson


Megadeth's new album Risk could be the final step in the transformation of one of metal's seminal bands. Spawned out of guitarist Dave Mustaine's forced departure from Metallica in the early '80s, the group set the tone for the aggressive, fast-paced style known as thrash-metal with 1985's Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!. But starting with 1992's Countdown to Extinction, Megadeth slowly morphed into more of a midtempo rock band. On Risk, their ninth release, they've moved further from their roots, towards the techno world. They've also hired a new drummer; Jimmy DeGrasso replaces longtime skinsman Nick Menza, who took a leave of absence to repair torn ligaments in his knee. And they've been hanging out with an interesting bunch of folks, including wrestler Bill Goldberg, martial-arts film giant Jean-Claude Van Damme, and TV comic Drew Carey. In a recent Launch.com interview, Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson spoke about all these topics and more.


Darren Davis: You guys appeared with Bill Goldberg and Jean-Claude Van Damme in the video for "Crush'em." Dave, I know you're into the martial arts. Did you and Jean-Claude get to share any secrets?

Dave Mustaine: No, not a word. He shook my hand, looked at me, leaned back, looked at me again, and said, "What?" I said, "We know a lot of the same people in the same circle." I mentioned to him who my sensei was and he goes, "Oh, that's right," and that's where it ended. I don't think that he was in any kind of timeframe to sit around and talk about philosophy of martial art, and I surely didn't want to sit there and talk about something that was going to keep him from being in the video. Maybe if we get a chance to cross paths again, we'll sit down and talk and maybe even train.

DD: Do wrestling and Megadeth make for a good marriage?

DM: Well, I don't see myself getting into a ring and lifting 250- to 300-pound guys over my head. I think that's where the similarity ends!

DD: Still, it's always seemed like you guys would do anything for the fans.

DM: We do want to pull out all the stops, but within reason. We also don't want to become a parody of ourselves, and as a lot of hard rock/heavy metal bands from the '80s have had that tragedy happen to them, we're one of the few survivors that have kept their dignity.

David Ellefson: With some groups, it seems that moving into the mainstream is the kiss of death. For Megadeth, it seems that us tailoring our music to more and more people has actually made us a better band. Our songwriting has gotten better, our musical and vocal performances have gotten better, and just the whole way that we think about our group is so much more appealing now because we're conscious of that. Granted, in the beginning we had our little niche and we really helped pioneer that, but complacency could certainly have been the end of us a long time ago.

DD: In the old days radio wouldn't touch you, but now they're actually embracing you guys.

DM: They not only embraced us, they were French-kissing us! Four top 10 singles on one record is pretty good for a band like us.

DE: Yeah, absolutely. And with so many songs off Cryptic Writings being widely accepted all around the country on radio, we went into Risk thinking, "Well, we went a couple of steps ahead on Cryptic Writings, now we can go many steps forward as far as melody." A lot of our material now is less about the riff carrying the song. It's more about the actual vocal. Now it's like we're a singer with a backup band instead of the band always carrying the tune.

DD: You've recorded both Cryptic Writings and Risk in Nashville. What is it about that city that's drawn you there?

DM: I think it makes us want to hurry up and get home. [laughs] It's good because that's where our producer Dann Huff lives. The people that run the studio there take fantastic care of us. We feel very much at home there, although the living environment for us isn't quite the same because we don't have our whole family there and it's not in our exact element, for lack of a better word. We're like heavy metal marines, we adapt and improvise. We go there, we're ready to roll, and you just push the red button and start playing. Then when the record is done, you just say "window" or "aisle."

DD: Late in the Cryptic Writings album cycle, you decided to play some acoustic shows. How did those shows affect Risk?

DM: I don't think it affected the album so much as it embellished on it, because Marty Friedman used to always do all the acoustic stuff on record, and I would do the core metal-sounding riffs. But when he got to Nashville this time, the guitar parts were almost all done. I think he was a little shocked. I know I was, because when he came out, he actually said, "Dude, good job on guitar!" I thought, "Better set my watch." [laughs]

DD: Do you guys go into the studio with a preconceived notion of how the songs are going to sound?

DE: A lot of them are like that, but for the most part they really develop over the course of the record. I know Dave has been working on lyrics months and months before we went into the studio, and as we were putting some of the final arrangements together he would sing for us and for Dann, just to get a feel of what was to come. One of the big things on Risk is that there's a couple of songs where Dann had his brother David, who's a drummer, come in and make some drum loops for a couple of the tunes. People have been doing drum loops for a long time, but Megadeth has never done one before, and that was actually a very cool addition to really make the groove sound modern.

DD: What's behind the song "I'll Be There Now" off Risk?

DM: I guess the concept was, the fans have been there for so long and I wanted to tell them, in turn, I'll be there for you now. And that's been happening more now that we've been making ourselves available through the Internet. People say, "Dude, 'In My Darkest Hour' got me through so many bad days," or "'A Tout Le Monde' really helped me." Somebody came up to me the other day and said, "My father was killed by a train and 'Train of Consequences' has helped me out a lot," and I thought, "Jeez, that's a little morbid, but I'm really glad that we were there for you."

DD: How's the latest member to join, Jimmy DeGrasso, working out?

DE: Jimmy DeGrasso has really helped improve a lot of aspects of the band. In the early days, our music was real uptempo - I think that was kind of indicative of our personalities, we were all on the edge all the time. Over the years, as the music has matured, we've started to write some midtempo songs, which is really a sensual place to be musically. And Jimmy's been used to playing like that for years. His first audition was basically doing a show in Fresno. He came right off of a tour of Europe with Alice Cooper, and he jumped right into the drum chair. We did a couple of songs at soundcheck, and the next thing you know, we're into "Holy Wars" and it's a full-on show. And I was looking at the audience and looking back at Jimmy going, "Does anybody really know that's not Nick back there?" It was unbelievable that someone could come in and pull that off.

DM: All the guys in Monster Magnet and Sevendust were sitting on the side of the stage with their arms folded waiting for a train wreck, and I kept looking at 'em and thinking, "You fucking vultures!" [laughs] We got through the set and went backstage and they thought he was just there to temporarily fill Nick's vacancy, and they all came up and they went, "Hey bro, you've got to forget about Nick and keep Jimmy." And so I went, "Really? Ohhhh." So I was playing dumb, but there you have it.

DD: What is the current relationship between you guys and Nick Menza?

DM: I've called Nick a few times, but things haven't really changed too much. We've tried to be professional and cordial on our end because, you know, I was really affected by the way Metallica let me go. I thought it was... business-wise, it was improper, [though] I know that they probably did it the best that they could at the time. I just wanted to make sure we didn't do that with Nick. I called Nick the other day and he didn't know it was me. He was talking real angrily to the phone until he did recognize it was me and picked up the phone off the speaker. We talked a bit about what was going on and he still seemed like he was mad about something. And the thing is with the four of us, we're fat, dumb and happy. We're enjoying this and it's been a great ride and if we want to be mad about something, all we need to do is think about how many houses and cars we've snorted. [laughs]

DD: Dave, it looks like the acting bug has bitten you, judging by your recent work on the Drew Carey Show.

DM: Drew Carey was fun. I had to ad-lib a bit at the end because they had some dialogue changes, which is normal with any kind of scripting like that. I wanted to make sure I gave him a dirty look before I left because they had insulted me in the dialogue. In real life I wouldn't have given him a dirty look, but for the part I was portraying, it was important that I did that. When it was over, I signed a guitar and I gave it to Drew and he freaked out. I guess he's a supporter. If not, he got a hell of a guitar out of the deal.


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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