MEGADETH’s latest album, TH1RT3EN, is out now and it happens to be Dave Mustaine’s 13th studio release since forming the band – and it comes on the heels of a series of dates with thrash’s Big Four (Metallica, Slayer, and Anthraxmake up the other three), a headlining slot on the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival Tour…and extensive back surgery. Mustaine’s thoughts fly as fast as his guitar work and often take hard left turns from the actual question. So, in the interest of presenting a coherent set of statements from the metal legend, we have chosen to pull select quotes from a longer conversation and present them in context.
On the straw that broke the camel’s back:
Well, when we were out on tour the beginning of last summer, we had the opportunity to do some more Big Four dates, and it was pretty exciting for us. Who doesn’t want to do Big Four dates? So we were out doing those, and we have the opportunity to do this great tour with the Rockstar Mayhem Tour, this Disturbed and Godsmack tour, and that had confirmed prior to the Big Four dates coming in. So we weren’t going to say, we aren’t going to do the Big Four dates because we’ve got these Mayhem dates, but we certainly weren’t going to blow them off. By the same token, being able to get out of the talent pool that we’ve been in – and rightly so, there’s no harm in being there with the bands we’ve played with over our career – and go out with some bands that are a little bit different, that was great for us for the reach, being able to see some different fans. And man, did we. I remember when we did the first Mayhem dates, we did a concert in Paris, and that was a Big Four show, and then went straight to an airport hotel, woke up in the morning, got on a plane and flew straight from Paris straight to San Francisco, drove straight from the airport, and got on stage that day and played a Mayhem show. And that was the beginning of the last lap, so to speak, for me with what was going on with my health out on the road.
This morning, I was doing something and I rammed my head into something, and my wife thinks it’s funny to bring up my training, and whenever I get hurt she’s like “You’re a black belt, you can take it.” If you’re looking around unsuspectingly and you ram your head into the cowling of the stove over your breakfast, that doesn’t take away the fact that it hurts. So I’m looking at my whole body and waiting for it to not only heal itself but also for my threshold of pain to increase again, because of all these other areas that have been under severe inflammation from the headbanging.
On the use of Megadeth songs in video games:
I like playing video games and stuff like that, but I have such a highly addictive personality. I remember when video games first came out, when I was just a kid, I used to go to Chuck E Cheese and play Tron. I remember just spending exorbitant amounts of cash on that stupid game. And then the first PlayStation thing came home, that was called Atari, I didn’t get my own actual game until a game called The Punisher came out, because I loved the Punisher comic. I thought, that’s for [former Megadeth drummer Nick] Menza, he likes doing these videogames, [Dave] Ellefson likes doing these video games. I’m a snob, I’m not going to do that stuff. And then I got the Punisher game and I was so addicted to it I could not stop. And I swore to my wife, as soon as I beat this game, honey, I’m never going to do another one. And I beat it, and I never bought another game after that because I was so addicted to it. It was insane.
On the Internet:
Even the guys who come to our website and act like tough guys, I know that that’s just part of the culture now, acting like a tough guy on the Internet. I don’t do that that much anymore. I used to be kind of a wiseguy, liked to shoot zingers and stuff, but maybe in my old age I’ve just changed a little bit. I think that for us, with our site, we’ve got one of the coolest websites because fans can actually come there and say, “Hey, we don’t like this song,” and they can actually say they don’t like that song and were not going to ban them. And I think that’s cool, because it helps us to be able to find out what’s on the pulse of our fans, which I think helped us make the right decisions on this new record and choose the right songs.
On the music industry:
You know, records have, with the peer to peer transferring and everything, unfortunately the music business has become so changed that records don’t even matter anymore. They’re like business cards. I remember when I first got my first record contract, being able to pick which four songs were going to be on which side of the record. “Never put more than four songs on there, the grooves are too close together. Can’t have that much material, it’ll sound terrible. Yes, that’s why contracts are like that.” “Really? Oh, wow, great.” And then the last time we went to the studio, we had a conversation where somebody had said that they wanted to have almost twice that many songs on the record, and I just laughed at how much things have changed, where a man can put almost his entire life’s work into a record, and a few years later it doesn’t mean anything. And you have to do 100 percent more to make it equivalent. Take for example the first Van Halen record. Now, they say “we don’t want these eight songs. We want 15 of these songs.” There probably would have been no Van Halen. I don’t know that those guys would have had all those guitar pyrotechnics on the record, if it would have just been too much for the fans to digest. I remember listening to records like early Ted Nugent and KISS and stuff like that – you had Kiss Alive, right? You had to have had Kiss Alive. Maybe not, maybe you’re too young. I remember listening to those live records – God dang it, if it had too many songs on it, you were like [makes snoring noise]. And now it’s like, you have to have songs, and videos, and give away T-shirts, and you can win dinner at my house, and it’s like, when did we try so hard? When did music get so crappy that you had to give somebody a back rub with it?
Interview by Jeff Treppel