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

It Wasn't Fun Anymore

taken from Shockwaves Online, 2001
Fredrik Hjelm talks to Dave Mustaine

Fredrik Hjelm: The new album, The World Needs a Hero, really shows Megadeth going back to your roots.

Dave Mustaine: Well, you basically got the first insight on the new album when you stopped by the studio a couple of weeks ago when I was finishing it off. As far as "going back to my roots" is concerned - my roots are really Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, so in that case we'd be looking at "I Wanna Hold Your Heartbreaker" and stuff like that [laughs]. A lot of people are saying "we like this" or "we like that." Then there are people that go "we hate Cryptic Writings and Risk," while others are telling me they didn't become fans until those albums came out. As far as I'm concerned, everything happens for a reason. Looking back at the three last albums [Youthanasia, Cryptic Writings and Risk] - sure, thinking about it, there might be some things we would wanted to have changed, but hearing these albums are fun for me, it's fun to watch Al play on stage. Towards the end with Marty Friedman, it wasn't fun anymore, and I'm quite sure that he'd say the same thing. He wanted to do something different, and I knew it all along.

FH: The new album is self-produced. All your past efforts were co-produced. Do you feel that you had more freedom recording this new album?

DM: I don't know so much about freedom, but it definitely gave me more time to focus on the songs, 'cause when we were working with other people, I wasn't really aware of what was going on. Especially when it comes to Risk. Regarding Cryptic Writings, I was on top of every little thing. A couple of times I learned that Dan [Huff, the producer] had fixed some things, and I wasn't really sure of what it was. When it comes to Risk, there'd been people in there playing and I wouldn't even know who they were or where the parts came from, and I'm not used to that. That's like somebody coming to your house to add and tear down and you don't even know what's gonna be going on. For me, I was a little bit intimidated by the success we had with Cryptic Writings so when it came to creating new material after that, it's like being "power-drunk" - you want more. Like after the success with "Trust," I thought to myself "wow, we've had a number one hit" - we'd had four top five hits in a row, so why would I not want to give Dan even more control when it comes to the producing part on the next record? So I did, and it backfired, that's when I said "I really have to recover right now" - It's like being on an airplane and you're letting the co-pilot take charge. All of a sudden, you come to your senses, you look out the window and all you see is ground coming at you, full blast. Well, you saw when we played the Universal Amphitheatre in LA, and it was really hard for me, 'cause I look out and I see a lot of our old friends there. Especially playing a tune like "Breadline," because it was a pop-radio song. I'm really cut from another kind of fabric. I can write music - I mean, I can play the solo on a country-record, on a reggae-record... It's just about adjusting. But a song like "Breadline" didn't really go down with the old fans. On the other hand, being a man and having all these hotties in the audience reacting to a song like that... who cares about the guys who don't like the song when I have all these chicks in the audience getting up on their boyfriend's shoulders showing me tits!? My point is; you have to take a risk and that's what I did with the songs on Risk. It is an occupational hazard when you're playing songs that people may not like, that's basically how I came up with that album title. "Crush'em" was really hard to play, as well as "Insomnia," which a lot of the old hardcore fans reacted negatively to, yet at the same time, there are so many people that love that song!

FH: "Crush'em" was also the wrestler Goldberg's theme for a while.

DM: Yeah, he used it for his return to the wrestling scene, after that he went back to his old theme. You know, sometimes corporate America is so rigid, and the fans don't want their idols to change. Especially in the WCW - the fans don't change either. They drive one type of car, they drink one kind of beer, they know a few sexual positions, and that's the way they want it! The feeling I got was "Hey, don't mess with my wrestler and his anthem!" I also really would wanna tell you of some of the emotions I went through regarding that, and what I feel about the narrow-mindedness that I experienced within that sport, but I don't want to alienate some of the people that are fans of that sport. Everybody's not like that, though, and they're the ones that made it really fun to be involved in that whole thing.

FH: Do you watch a lot of wrestling?

DM: Not much, it's more hockey and Muay Thai/kickboxing for me.

FH: New record label, new management, and a new guitarist... Do you look at this as the rebirth of Megadeth or perhaps a reconstruction?

DM: I look at it as both, actually. It's like as if someone owns an old, shitty house, and they knock out everything inside, except for one wall, and then they re-construct, re-decorate everything, versus just starting over again. Marty left the band and is now playing Elastica meets Garbage-type dance-techno music right now. I heard the CD and I could only listen to about 2 1/2 songs before I have to turn it off. Marty is a great person and a great guitar player but that kind of material is just something I'm not used to. The new label, Sanctuary Music, is really happening for us. They've taken care of us in a way that we just feel comfortable.

FH: "De-lousing" is another term you used to describe the re-construction of the band...

DM: [laughs] Yeah, well, I looked at that after I said it, and seeing it in print makes me realize that maybe it wasn't the proper terminology...

FH: It is kind of a strong word, isn't it?

DM: Yeah, at the same time, a lot of people around the band were like lice. There were others involved in the band as well, though, and I don't want them to think that I disrespect them in any way. When it comes to someone like Mike Renault or Bud Prager, our former managers, for example; Mike and Bud are great people and great managers, but with Megadeth... it just didn't work. As far as the initial question about new management, new label and new guitar player, it's great. It's almost like coming out of a deep sleep.

FH: I think you can clearly tell by listening to the new material that Megadeth's got new juice.

DM: Yeah, it's funny, 'cause when meeting old friends in the industry, I thought we were in pretty bad shape after what happened with Risk. What I didn't realize, being very caught up in how people had reacted towards that album, was that a song like "Kill the King" was a terrific song to come back and say, you know what - "Fuck you! We also proved that song wasn't a fluke by producing more like that. As you know now, regarding the new album, it's not like as if there are two heavy songs and then all ballads. There's one ballad, and it's very intense in concept. It's about prejudiced relationships, a Catholic and a Protestant that can never be together in Ireland. It could be a metaphor to interracial marriages, it could be about same sex marriages - it could be about a guy and a sheep for all I care. It just means that if we can't be together in this life, maybe we'll make it in the next. The rest of the stuff is very heavy. There are riffs that are so fast that it's something people haven't heard in a long time. We got "Return to Hangar 18," we got some of the stuff that you got to hear when you were in the studio with us.

FH: New guitarist, Al Pitrelli, even co-wrote the ballad "Promises" with you.

DM: Yes, but it's not actually as much of a co-writing credit as it appears. Al has had a lot of participation and very much when it comes to the parts that make things come together. When it comes to 'Promises," I had a little problem with a part between the bridge and the chorus, and Al came up with that part. When that happened I thought of Marty Friedman, and no disrespect to Marty, but all I could think was "Marty-who?" One of the things Marty was great at was telling me the legality of the notes based on music theory, pretty much like a navigator. Al does the exact same thing, that's why I feel I haven't lost anything. I just feel stronger about Al, than about any of the previous guitar players because he's gone all-out to pick up the stuff the other guys played instead of going, "hey, I don't wanna play the former guitar-player's stuff". He just went "I'm going in!" and he took it from there, and he's got all their stuff down.

FH: The new album title, The World Needs a Hero makes me curious. You also mentioned that "there are no more rock stars, Axl [Rose] killed that".

DM: Well, all the delays of their concerts, 2-3 hours, made people lose their tolerance for rock stars. People want heroes. Most bands look like average Joes, wearing gas-station shirts, have funky hair-dos and I think people wanna be able to go "they may not be popular, but they're my band". You really can't do that if the bands all look and sound the same. The only difference might be the lines and the chorus. Right now the rock business needs a hero. We need people like myself, like Axl, James [Hetfield of Metallica], the guy from Buck Cherry and like Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant. Axl Rose even told me that I was his hero once. Don't get me wrong - Axl is an incredible talent, he just needs to straighten up.

FH: The rock-industry needs more character then, you think?

DM: Yeah, you don't need a bunch of faceless, nameless people up there, just putting their head down, growling in the microphone. It's just not good for the music. Don't get me wrong - many songs out there are great and a lot of bands sound really good, but there's a majority out there that sound exactly like the next band. The music industry is really suffering from this right now and that's what I'm talking about.

FH: Looking back at the eighties, the bands were definitely a lot stronger, image-wise, not only when it came to how they dressed, but there was also a lot of theatrics and charisma. Bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden were very strong, image-wise in that sense.

DM: Yeah, and after that bands like Poison took it to the extent with the graceful hair and the graceful clothes. Metal is not supposed to be graceful, it's supposed to be "fuck you!" I've known all my life how I wanna do it: I wanna go out there, play my music and just do it. I like being famous, I like being a star - I like walking into a room and the air is just sucked up by my presence. People don't wanna watch me, but they feel as if they have to, 'cause they wanna know what it is about me that catches their attention.

FH: In the science fiction-show "Black Scorpion," you recently played an arsonist named Torchy Thompson - how did that come about?

DM: Well, the guy directing it is a fan of ours and he wanted to get a chance to highlight our music and give me a break and feature some of my art. It was actually very difficult for me, 'cause I found the girl on the show stunning, and they wanted me to fight her. That just made me uncomfortable. On top of that, I was asked to do a bunch of advanced martial arts techniques, which is really difficult when you're wearing stiff, heavy pants and heavy boots. I told them that I had to slip into something more comfortable if that's what they wanted, but they insisted on me looking like an arsonist. I made the best out of it though, and showed them some flipping kicks and stuff that sensei Benny ["The Jet" Urquidez] taught me. The stuntmen on the set were actually very impressed by what we were doing and I got a lot of compliments for that. The difficult part was also the camera. Fighting in front of the camera and fighting in real life are two totally different things. You have to exaggerate all the techniques so they become as visible for the camera as possible - when you fight in the ring or in the street you try to hide your techniques as much as possible, otherwise they don't work!

FH: Are you planning on getting more involved in acting?

DM: If I get to play the villain, a killer, a terrorist... roles like that, why not? If I have to play some sentimental male, struggling with his sexuality, I would not do it! It's just easier for me to play the bad guy than to play the good guy, the hurting guy or those kinds of parts.

FH: Speaking of your martial arts expertise. In the past you've worked out with legend Benny "The Jet" Urquidez. How's your training these days?

DM: I don't get to train a lot with sensei Benny at all, since he lives in California and I live in Arizona. Last time I had contact with him was when I was supposed to do a photo-shoot with Chono, the wrestler, in Japan. I asked him if he'd let me use his "gi"-top [martial arts uniform] which he did. Chono had put out a record in Japan called "Chono Metal," with some of our music on it. [Note: Chono is one of Japan's most famous professional wrestling superstars.] Sensei Benny goes with me everywhere, though, mentally, and has helped me out tremendously in the past when I've had personal struggles almost beyond my control.

FH: Your previous label Capitol, put a lot of pressure on you to write hit songs. Would you talk about that a little bit?

DM: Well, they might not exactly have put pressure on us to write hit songs, but they were definitely not responding to some of the material we presented. After the incredible success with Countdown to Extinction we came out with Youthanasia which contains some really good material, but I guess Capitol just didn't know what to do with it. That was also at the point when people stopped listening to metal on the radio. When Cryptic Writings came out we mainly focused on dealing with that, to break into radio. When Risk came out, that was kind of a different sound for Megadeth, so we were dealing with alternative radio stations, as well as the regular ones. The only problem was that we were told that they couldn't play songs by a band named Megadeth on alternative radio! We even researched that by sending out "Insomnia" from Risk without the name "Megadeth" on it, and it turned out very well.

FH: On the new album, I hear a lot of early '80s British-metal influences, from Iron Maiden to Diamond Head. The final track, "When," even resembles "Am I Evil" by Diamond Head. You had even mentioned in an earlier conversation that you might be doing a project with Brian Tatler of Diamond Head.

DM: "When" is actually supposed to resemble "Am I Evil." I also think that saying we're going back to the NWOBHM [New Wave of British Heavy Metal] is quite accurate. We never really left that style of music. We just didn't go after it as hard as we used to, for a while. Even though I talk to Tatler regularly, I underline that I don't wanna take away the focus from Megadeth. It's something that means a lot to me, to work with Tatler, but I absolutely do not want to discourage the band members of Megadeth who are my friends and business partners. It's definitely not a priority, if it happens it happens.

FH: "Recipe of Hate/Warhorse" from the new album... I really dig those lyrics! Were those lyrics inspired by someone in particular?

DM: [laughs] I can't really come to think about anyone that pissed me off enough for me to write a whole song about them. There's probably a whole bunch of people that'd deserve that song, but no one in particular.

FH: You just signed a new five-record deal with Sanctuary/BMG - you also act as an A&R person for them, checking out new bands...

DM: The A&R thing really means that we have our own in-print label which is very exciting for us. There are many new, really good bands out there, that we're hearing, and this actually means that we can help them out. This is also something the whole band can get behind because of our vast experience in the music industry. It's not very often somebody does something without asking for anything in return in this business, but that's just what it is. Obviously, we'll get something in return, but the main reason is that we want to see these people go forward in their career and really score big on the scene with as few mistakes as possible.

FH: Are you looking for anything in particular, music-wise?

DM: Not really. If there's something out there that's cool, we're there. If there's something that I think we should pass on, I'll be honest with them and tell 'em that.

FH: How do you experience different audiences playing live? I've seen Megadeth perform in America, in Europe, and in Japan, and the response seems quite different. You've played with Iron Maiden in Europe in the past, for example, and Maiden is, as we know, a very European band.

DM: Well, you just gotta meet the audience at their own level. If they're Maiden fans and they don't wanna hear about Megadeth, you have to go out there and play for the few Megadeth fans that are there. If they're Megadeth fans, you go out there, play and enjoy yourself.

FH: And the Japanese audience?

DM: The Japanese audience are very particular about what they hear and what you play for them. A lot of the very hard fans want very hard music, yet they're very open to all kinds of experimenting. They also like the special stuff they can feel a kind of an ownership to, something they can feel you've never done anywhere else.

FH: What about the language-barrier in a country like that?

DM: If you give them what they really want, I think you get past that. Sometimes, if they don't understand every single word, it works anyway.

FH: "Return to Hangar" from the new album sounds like a mix of "Hangar 18" and "Into the Lungs of Hell". What were you thinking about while writing it?

DM: Basically a reprise of "Hangar 18". We wanted to do something where we revisited the Rust in Peace era, and that seemed like the right song to do. When we wrote that album (Rust... ) there were a lot of dangerous moments - a lot of drugs, a lot of violence, a lot of auditions by people. It was just a very unpredictable period of time.

FH: We were talking about your inspiration from Led Zeppelin and the Beatles earlier. Are there any new bands out there that has made you "think," inspiration-wise?

DM: The answer is definitely "no". With the Beatles in the '60s, when I was still a child, and Led Zeppelin in the '70s, when I was a teenager, in combination with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that was really what made me create my style. Diamond Head, Judas Priest, Motorhead, Mercyful Fate, Budgie and AC/DC all added to that. After that, I was pretty much done.

FH: How did Megadeth survive the decay of Metal in the 90s?

DM: I don't know! I think we just put our heads down and did records like Cryptic Writings and Risk and just survived. When Metal started to come back, getting harder again, we were already prepared for it to die. We had, at that point, embraced the "hard rock-attitude" which is more survival oriented, 'cause we had nowhere else to go.

FH: After recording softer material like that on Risk, what made you take a step back to this "old school-you"? - New inspiration or new frustration?

DM: There was really nowhere else to go during that period with Risk. Either you'd keep the little edge you could, and try to incorporate that with what you could do with Metal radio. Our friends at radio were very supportive of us, but not the record companies. We needed to write pop and alternative songs, and what I did couldn't be categorized as neither nor. Like being in the ring (fighting), you can be knocked down a bunch of times and people might not think you're gonna get up. I can understand that a lot of people thought we were finished. We're not. We may go back into a much smaller talent-pool, but we have a 100% credibility there.

FH: How important is image today? Megadeth doesn't exactly stand out in a fashion sense...

DM: We're not exactly caught up in the fancy costumes and the tattoos. Our music has always been about the music, not what I have on my body.

FH: What about managers and others involved in the band? Did they ever try to push you in any direction regarding this?

DM: Yeah, they did. They tried to cultivate certain things with us, and they tried to make us accomplish certain initiatives they'd set out.

FH: How is it keeping a family together with such a busy schedule?

DM: Well, tomorrow my son's gonna be nine. Two weeks ago, my daughter turned three. The third of next moth, I will have been married 10 years. They'll be traveling with me during Megadeth's European tour this summer.

FH: Final question... Mustaine's top three favorite movies!

DM: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," with Clint Eastwood, I loved "The Ten Commandments" - I thought that was unbelievable. I also like any of the "Pink Panther" movies.

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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