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

An Ugly American

taken from, March 2001
Ferres and Nick talk to Dave Mustaine

On March 6th we had an unique pleasure to talk to Dave Mustaine. Dave and Megadeth's new guitarist, Al Pitrelli, came to Poland for a press tour, which was to promote their upcoming album, The World Needs a Hero. Dave turned out to be extremely pleasant person to talk to, we didn't have to make him talk - on the opposite - he answered some of our questions before we managed to ask them. Dave talked over sincerely even such ticklish matters like the reasons of Marty Friedman's departure from the band. The conversation, which was supposed to last only twenty minutes, went on for almost half an hour, and when we're saying our goodbyes to Dave, we had an impression, that he regretted he couldn't talk to us any more... which was probably because our talk was more like a fan-chat and less like a typical interview.

Ferres: Since Megadeth is considered one of the world's best bands playing live, why did you say that the only reason to release a live album would be to fulfill contract obligations?

Dave Mustaine: ... [long pause]

F: You said that once.

DM: Depends on how I was feeling when I said that. [laugh] I think that the question probably had to do with being with Capitol at the time. We've always wanted to record a live album, but it was Capitol Records... You know, it's not a secret - if you're a fan of mine then you know we've had a really rough time with Capitol and the only reason we would record a live record for them would be to fulfill contract obligations, because the last seven years there we were really fucked.

F: So we can expect a new album?

DM: I've got it sitting in my closet, all the tapes, and I just need to go into the studio and mix it.

F: That's great news!

DM: Let me finish that though. There are certain places we need to get the songs from to make the album perfect. We wanted to record "A Tout Le Monde" in France because having a French chorus it's only proper that we would have the French countrymen singing a song in their language. If I would have sung "A Tout Le Monde" in Polish, whatever you say "a tout le monde" in Polish, it would be a proper way to do it here and we want to do "Symphony of Destruction" from Argentina because they sing the guitar riff and the go: [singing] "Mega-deth, Mega-deth, I want a Megadeth" so then I sing, I don't have to sing, because they are so goddamn loud. [It's] very much like being over here in Poland. In America fans have no idea what's it like to be in a concert over here and Argentinean fans are a lot like you guys where you just sing. Before we come out, you're singing, and after we're done you're singing for an encore. In America it's kind like: [makes a silly face, yawns] [laugh] You got light? You got cigarette? And that's because they've seen so many bands coming through America, they get spoiled.

F: So the fans from outside of the US are more enthusiastic?

DM: Sometimes, it depends. Because if you were in the Backstreet Boys... [laugh] which thank god you're not, because I'd have to kill you. [laugh]

F: You're very anti-boysband, are you?

DM: No, no.

F: Trying to kill them?

DM: No, I was kidding. You know, bands like that, they get a response the same anywhere. Some people can play anywhere. AC/DC can play anywhere and they get the same response. Thank god for us we're gonna be playing with them this summer. We confirmed yesterday a concert in Prague. I know it's not close to here, but at least it's a start. I'm not sure if they [AC/DC] are going to be playing in Poland, but if they're not, we'll be coming here ourselves this summer. Hopefully.

F: You answered my question without me asking it. When you played at Woodstock, you dedicated a song to Gar Samuelson who died the same year. My question is what are your relations with former band members?

DM: Pretty good. They all appeared in a "Behind the Music Scenes" for VH1, we did a "Megadeth Behind the Music." But Nick Menza did not show up because, I think, he's got a drug problem right now. He has been really avoiding us when we call him, because we have... we had some money for him, and since we said that it's like "Hey man, I'll right there" you know - never showed up. Even the fact that we had money for him and we've got a contract that needs to be signed to terminate our relationship with him in business and he's nowhere to be found. We asked him to be in a video for the VH1 thing and the guy called them on Wednesday and he said "call me back tonight" because we need to know what time we come back tomorrow. This is a guy [from VH1] from New York, it's in California, he does not have a lot of time to fuck around so I said: "Let me know what time tomorrow we come, do you?" [Nick] never called back.

F: So, was the drug problem the reason Nick got kicked off from the band?

DM: No, he lied about having cancer.

F: He lied?

DM: He didn't have cancer.

F: But aren't a bit disappointed that Megadeth line-up has changed so dramatically? Jimmy and Al are a new chapter in Megadeth history, but Marty and Nick recorded those classic albums like Countdown to Extinction and Rust in Peace?

DM: No, if the new guys that replace the previous members were worse, I would say "yes," like getting a divorce with a beautiful woman and then getting a fat woman for a new wife [laugh] Every guy that we've gotten has been better in some way and it's made the band better. I think Jimmy is a better drummer than Nick is because Jimmy was willing to really play his ass off. Nick in the beginning was like that but towards the end he wanted to be a frontman. He had a band that he played guitar and sang with and he writes music and sings and plays guitar and, you know, he wasn't interested in playing drums, he wanted to be a frontman. Jimmy is not. Jimmy's a fuckin' drummer and he is a great drummer. Marty wants to play dance and techno music. He's doing dance and techno music right now.

F: He's going to release a solo album?

DM: I don't know, but I heard a record that he just did with some girl-singer. Sounds kind like the girl from Elastica or Garbage. And you know, Al wanted to be in Megadeth, Marty did not. He wanted to do, you know, dance music. Now, I don't see how guy that's a guitar god, legend and somebody like that would make the change from heavy metal to dance music, it's so extreme.

F: But there were some dance beats in "Insomnia" on the last record, Risk?

DM: That was not my doing, that was Dann Huff's idea.

F: One question about Risk - on Risk your manager Bud Prager is listed as co-writer of 5 out of 12 tracks. Why is that?

DM: Because he wanted to.

F: Well, but did he help to create those tracks that much?

DM: He helped on Cryptic Writings too, but he didn't have his name there. And the second record he was so proud of the work he did, but the first one he wanted his name there. And that cost a big problem between him and Mike Renault, which was - just two people managed us before, Bud Prager and Mike Renault, and Mike Renault and Bud stopped talking together, because Mike was disgusted with how Bud was behaving. And Bud basically drove a wedge between me and Mike. It ended our relationship.

F: So that's why you changed your managers?

DM: No, it was way deeper than that, but you don't have four days for me to tell you.

Nick: What do you think about Internet and computers? Megadeth was one of the first bands to have an official website, on the other the new track "Disconnect" and earlier in "Mastermind" you were skeptical about computers.

DM: No, I never said that.

F: You did. [laugh]

DM: No, I didn't. I know what I say. "Mastermind" is about the computerization of the world, it's not an anti-computer song at all. And "Disconnect" has nothing to do with computers, it has to do with living a double life and when you get behind a closed door... You know there's the person I want you to think that I am and the person inside that I really know I am. It's like just the same with you - there's a person you want him [pointing at Nick] to think you are and the person that you really are. 'Cause you know we're all afraid that someone's gonna find out you've got a little problem, so we don't want you to see these little problems, and that's why it says "Turn off your conscience, leave the world outside, nothing at all can ever make you feel like anything's real, so you just disconnect."

F: I thought it was about virtual reality or something...

DM: No, it's you disconnect from everybody and you just say: "I'm not answering the phone, I'm not answering the door, I'm fuckin' just done." And you go into a shell. Now, as far as the Internet... I have a web-design company, I've entered the service provider company, we run Megadeth Arizona, ummm... My web-design company does banks, restaurants, radio stations, all these different things. I'm not anti-computer and I'm not anti-Internet. I do know that there's a lot of little fuckers, that get in the Internet and go to others people's websites - there're not fans of their website, they're not fans of the band - and they go and post shit and they start trouble. You know, they hack into different people's computers and do terrible shit. It's just human nature, if it wasn't computers, it would be like - when I was a kid, I didn't like somebody, we'd throw eggs at their cars. Or we'd put toilet paper in their trees. You ever done that? You throw toilet paper up in to the trees and it takes them forever to take it down. The whole tree is covered with fuckin' toilet paper. [laugh] That's just part of being a kid and being a vandal. You know, unfortunately what makes young people nowadays get off is computers and they go in and they hack into like the US government [websites] and they just learned out the fuckin' codes for the satellites, the position [of] the satellites for Star Wars - the satellite defense systems. If someone's gets up there and fucks around with those satellites, that ain't working, cell phones ain't working, pagers aren't working, ATMs don't work, nothing that's online will work, because everything that has to do with satellites will be done - till they go back up and sort that shit out again. And how would that make you feel if "Yeah, I'm the guy that fucked all this up" until you realize "I'm the guy that fucked it up," I mean, it's kind of exciting to do something that makes you famous, but if you're doing something that's bad, you're not famous, that's infamous, you know, like bank robbers aren't famous, they are infamous and infamy is not a cool way of becoming famous.

N: The Japanese editions of some of Megadeth albums had bonus tracks.

DM: They always do.

N: They're not available in American and European editions. Why?

DM: The Japanese marketplace has been affected by imports, OK? It's cheaper to get an imported record than it is to get a Japanese record. And it's cooler for them to buy an record in English than it is to buy in Japanese. So the Japanese fans want to buy American records. So instead of the Japanese music industry saying "You know what, we give up, we're fucked, we gonna have to just bow down to the imperialist Americans, because their fuckin' records come over here," you know, they worked out something - so they put bonus tracks on their records, so it's not only cool for them to get the American record, but it's cool for them to get the Japanese one, because there's an additional track on it you can't get anywhere else. I never heard about this until they started having all these fucked up things like you can go into a music store there and you can rent a CD in Japan and you take it home and you record it and you don't have to buy it. That's fuckin' totally stupid and that's the music industry in Japan is suffering so bad.

F: Some Megadeth fans are downloading those tracks from the Internet with Napster. What's your opinion on that? Sometimes it's the only way to get those tracks, by Internet.

DM: With Napster? I don't really care about Napster, I've never used it, I don't know to use it and I don't want to know how to use it. How do I feel of people trading files of our music? My career started in Metallica with tape trading, you know, and if someone's curious, they wanna hear our music, that's fine. If they wanna turn a friend onto our music, burn a couple of MP3s down on a CD and give it to a friend, that's cool too. But if you are taking them and making them for sale, and you're putting a fake artwork in there, and you're trying to sell hundreds or maybe even thousands of CDs, that's fuckin' organized bootlegging and it's piracy and I'm against that. But someone downloading an MP3 and listening to it and saying "You know, check it out" - it doesn't bother me.

N: Many of your songs are politically oriented. You were always frank about your political beliefs and that you are rather pro-democrat.

DM: Huh?

N: A pro-democrat?

DM: I'm not.

F: You're not? You were a reporter... [for MTV at democratic presidential convention in 1992 - Ferres]

DM: That has nothing to do with my political affiliation.

N: Is there a track on The World Needs a Hero which comments somehow George W. Bush's controversial victory in the last election?

DM: [laugh] I haven't written a song about him winning. Because if I did it would probably be something like: "your vote really doesn't count." I think, if they wanted to solve the election, they should have had the two of those guys duel with fuckin' pistols at twenty paces and then you would have really seen the best man win. As far as being pro-democrat I have no allegiance with any political party. This year, if John McCain would have beat George Bush, I would have voted for a Republican, because I liked John McCain, he is senator of the state, that I live in [Arizona], he's a patriot, he has served in war, they gave him an opportunity to come home from being a prisoner of war, because his father was an admiral, he was an officer, and they [the Vietnamese] said, you know, "We will release you" and he said "Unless you let the rest of these people go I'm not going" and I thought "Well, one that's probably pretty stupid" [laugh] "But two, it's very honorable." And I know a lot of people that aren't honorable, that would have not chose to stay in captivity because of the freedom of other soldiers not being granted to them. What do I think of George W. Bush? I don't think that he is a good president yet, I don't think Bill Clinton was a good president his first year, I don't think anybody was a good president their first year. You have to learn and learn really fast, and you've got entire fuckin' world watching you, because when you become the president of the United States - and I don't want to say this to be an ugly American but - we are the most powerful country in the world and we have the strongest financial backbone in the entire world. What happens in America, happens everywhere else. And personally I don't consider myself being an ugly American, because I like to go to different countries and just kind of lay low and enjoy the country and be a visitor and act like a visitor, not like I fuckin' own the country, which is what a lot of ugly Americans do. George W. Bush's hired a lot of people to work on his administration, that are very experienced military leaders and very experienced politicians and it's kinda freaky because these are people, that used to work for his dad. And it kinda almost makes me wonder, if George W. Bush is the president or if George Senior is the president and George W. just isn't a puppet. And, here's another thing - with Dick Cheney [vice-president] going back into the hospital for what could possibly be his sixth heart attack - that fucker is gonna die! [laugh] He's gonna die real soon and I don't know who's gonna be the vice-president. It may be Collin Powell, which would mark American history having its first black vice-president. Now, here's something else, you probably don't know. I know that you guys know that I have a drug problem. I used to do heroine, I was addicted to heroine, which makes me a junky. The president and the vice-president of the United States of America have been to jail more times than I have.

N: To jail?

DM: Yes, OK? And I'm a junky. Now what does it tell you about the American presidency? It's pretty fucked up, isn't it? I've been twice, they've been three times between the two of them.

F: [laugh] Dave Mustaine for president!

DM: No, no, no... no! [laugh]

F: Both Jimmy DeGrasso and Al Pitrelli have played in Alice Cooper Band. Did he recommend them to you?

DM: Jimmy did.

F: Jimmy did recommend himself?

DM: No, Jimmy recommended Al. I met Jimmy when we had tour with Alice Cooper a long time ago and he played for Suicidal Tendencies and I thought he was great and said "we should do something together" and he played with me on MD.45. And I was so absolutely blown away by his level of professionalism, how quickly he learned and what a pleasant person he was to be around. Most drummers are assholes, and that has nothing to do with them as people, but you know they're playing an instrument that doesn't really have any melody to it and it's a tough gig. I mean - how many people do you see, you know, go to the beach and have a drumset next to a camp fire, when they're singing songs? [laugh] You know, they don't, it's hard to do that and they don't get a lot of credit for being the heart and soul of the band. And most people think drummers are unimportant, so their attitude gets really fucked up. Now, I believe, the drummers to me are a very, very vital part of the band, that's why in our records I always mix the drums so loud, because it's super important. Jimmy, to me, is not anything like any other drummer I've ever met, because he's got a great personality, he's fun to be around, he's a super athlete, he does not want to be a frontman. We're playing a concert and I'll walk up to him and I make faces at him and shit like that. Nobody will see me, 'cause I'll turn my back like... [turns around] then he'll look at me, he'll take his drumsticks and he'll go: "Go away, go away!" [laugh] Because we're having fun and that's something I like about Jimmy. That's why I asked him to play with us. I told him a long time ago that Nick was starting to cause problems. I said: "You know what, Nick's gonna be gone soon, it's just a matter of time. Trust me."

F: You said that The World Needs a Hero is going to be an antidote to Risk. You said that you are taking a risk, when you recorded Risk, and that was a kind of experiment.

DM: I never used the word "antidote." See, there's something that's happening right now, when someone writes a bio or press release, they put in their own information. If there's quotation marks around what I say so that's a quote. Even then unless you see me saying it, you don't know if it's true or not. You know, I don't use the word "antidote". Where I live, we have rattle-snakes there. Now, the only way I would even say "antidote" I would say "anti-venom" because you would be bit by a snake. When I think of "antidote" the only reason I even know this word is because I've read it before, it's not part of my vocabulary. I think that with this new record - it has nothing to do with Risk. And it ain't gonna change anybody's opinion of Megadeth, because anybody that didn't like Risk that likes Megadeth knew we were capable of making this record anyway. Anybody who liked Megadeth, who heard Risk and isn't a fan anymore - that's pretty dumb.

F: I've heard three tracks of the new record and they're completely different...

DM: Yeah, they're fun to play, they're fun to record, we had a great time writing them and they're heavy. It's back to my Megadeth again. The record company and the management isn't trying to make us pop stars and make us an alternative band, because Soundgarden, Tool and Metallica can do it. We thought because they can do it maybe we could. So we challenged ourselves and it worked, to a degree, but it wasn't what we wanted, it wasn't comfortable. Trust me, they wanted to change us, they took our logo away on Cryptic Writings. On Risk they took the points off it, so the logo is not the same. Vic disappeared on Countdown to Extinction, he got moved to the back, on Youthanasia he was moved inside, on Cryptic Writings he was hidden on a ink-blot on the back, on Risk he was a tiny, little face on the mouse trap. I finally just said "What is fuckin' happening here?," because they said that if we changed the band name, it would be easier for us to become more successful. I thought to myself: "There comes a point where you just have to say 'enough'" and we fired everybody. We just said: "Fuck all of you, get out of here".

F: So all of those decisions were not your decisions, but the decisions of the management?

DM: Well, they were suggestions and they did it to me really clear that was what we needed to do and bottom line is the reason that happened because I didn't say "no". I should've said "no". So, I'm as much to blame as they are. Everyone knows while you have a taste of success... when "Trust" was a number 1 track in America, for guy that started off playing guitar in his bedroom to have a number 1 song in America - that's a fuckin' big deal. And sometimes it goes to your head - I wanted that again. When Risk came out I thought: "This seems a little bit weird" - but look what they did on last record and I thought "'Trust' was number 1, 'Use the Man,' 'Almost Honest,' 'Secret Place'" - these were all top 5 singles in America - it was all so fuckin' successful I just don't understand. I've got to just not understand because - look what they did. And then, when Risk came out, I went "I fuckin' understand, you guys fucked up, we're going back to what works" and I told Marty, I said the new record needs to be heavy - and he goes: "Dude, if you watch MTV the left hand of the guitar player doesn't move" [laugh] And I thought: "We're Megadeth" and that's when we pretty much started separating in a really rapid pace. Because we were growing apart but it really sped up at that point. Because when I said we need to go back to making heavy music again, and fuck radio, and fuck MTV, and fuck trying to be a pop band, and fuck trying to be an alternative band, if it happens, it happens, just make good music. Ah, but that wasn't what he wanted to hear.

F: So that's why Marty left?

DM: Well, I think that's part of it. It's like I sad to you, he was looking to pursue other musical stuff, I mean... look at here - you've got Risk with Marty Friedman, you've got The World Needs a Hero with Al Pitrelli. OK, which one's which? It's two totally different guitar players, two totally different influences. One over here I'm callin' all the shots myself, I don't give a what anybody says, because this might be my last record ever, because when we were with Capitol, it was the last record we owed them and I didn't know if anyone else wanted to sign us. So, when I gave'em the record I didn't want to be like our last record [Risk]. It was whimpier, that're gonna grow like a punk, I figured, you know what, I gonna make a fuckin' record that's gonna... gonna hurt you. With Risk, with Marty Friedman being in the band, he was saying: "Dude, it has to be slower." I'm telling you the truth. With "The Doctor Is Calling," I'm sitting in there and this is word for word: "Dude, we need to write slower songs," and I looked to myself: "Marty, where the fuck have you been the last two weeks?" and we all were in there working, so it was really a mean thing for me to say to him, but I was pissed, and he goes: "We must write something really slow." So picked my guitar and went: [huming] "nah nah nah nah" to do "The Doctor Is Calling" and it was basically a joke. He was: "Fuck, that's great man" and I went: "Ohhhhh..." Marty is to what he wants to do, he's a fantastic musician, and we really, really know, that he's gonna be successful in whatever he decides he wants to do. Do I miss him? Yeah, I miss him because he was a friend of the band and we had a lot of great times together. At the end it was a time for him to go.

F: One of my favorite Megadeth lyrics is "When you kill a man, you're murderer..."

DM: Oh, "Captive Honour" [from Countdown to Extinction].

F: Yeah. What's the meaning of those words? Could you please give an explanation?

DM: OK, "When you kill a man, you're murderer..." - 'cause if I kill you, I going to jail, right? In war, if you're like Alexander the Great and you can go into a village and you kill everybody or you, like these unbelievable historical militant people, who've gone in and destroyed, entire populations, like, in the beginning of the world, in the medieval times, like Vlad the Impaler, Leif Eriksson - any of these guys that would do shit like that. Then you're great conquerer, because you've conquered the Romans, you've conquered the Persians, you've conquered the Greeks or stuff like that, right? Because you've come in and you've killed armies of thousands of people. You know, people think: "He's great, he's like Caesar." If you kill everyone and there is no people left in the entire planet - you're obviously a god, because no one else would have the power to be able to do all that and get away with that.

F: There was a rumor around, that you have recorded a track called "Hunger" together with Metallica. Is that true?

DM: No, "Hunger"... "The Hunger" is done by a band called... No, there's a band called the Hunger, who did a song called "Vanishing Cream." I thought it was Metallica - I heard it and I thought: "That's James!" And then the guitar solo came in and it was way to good to be Kirk. [laugh] No, no, no... it was really fuckin' amazing guitar playing and it was like one of those mused guitar solos and that's probably what you're talking about. If it's the another one, called "The Hunger," that's done by Killing Joke (I think it is) - that ain't me.

F: It's a bit hard to see any of your videos, as you're not very often on MTV. Didn't you think of releasing a home video?

DM: Well, we've got a 25 video DVD the Capitol was making and as soon as we left they said: "OK, you can have it back." So Sanctuary is probably going to release it within the next year.

F: So, we can expect a live album and a DVD next year?

DM: Within the next year or two.

F: That's great news for every Megadeth fan.

DM: Yeah.

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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