Dave Mustaine ”“ Megadeth
Why Dave Mustaine thinks Chris Broderick is the proverbial golden goose, and Radiohead is dumb
As thousands of sweaty black t-shirted people trooped out of Bengaluru’s Palace Grounds on the night of March 14, most of them would not have noticed this one guy handing out pamphlets at the gate. They had other things to tend to ”“ like aching feet and sore neck muscles from standing and headbanging for close to eight hours. The pamphlets ”“ reportedly given out at the end of most rock and metal concerts there ”“ sought to warn the young impressionable minds about the ill-effects ”˜such kind of music’ (read: dark, evil, Satanic blah blah) can have on one’s soul. Pity this concerned individual wasn’t present backstage a few hours earlier, where Rolling Stone India was chatting with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, the headlining act of Rock in India.
Mustaine is known to not take too kindly to discussions about religion. Usually. In this candid freewheeling interview, however, he brings it up on his own accord. “People associate Megadeth with being Satanic. But when I became a Christian, I made it pretty clear that I have nothing to do with Satanism,” Mustaine says. For the record, in 2005, he had offered to pull out from a tour in Greece because he didn’t want Megadeth to share the bill with Satanic metal band Rotting Christ. “That’s had backlashes because people think that I judge other people. I don’t. If you want to be a Satanist, that’s fine,” Mustaine continues in his typical nasal twang. “That’s like jerking off to rape or something”¦” This pretty much sets the tone for the interview ”“ blunt, no holds barred.
Dave, it’s been 25 years since you set up Megadeth. How has the trip been for you?
It’s funny, because you know they say most people crash within a mile of their own home, when they are driving home, right? And I’m at that place right now where I feel like I made it home safely. I crashed but I crawled with my broken bloody body back and I’m sitting at home where I want to be. It’s a great feeling when I look around on stage. I mean, we all have our ups and downs and personal stuff that affects us, and affects us on stage. The emotions of being away from our loved ones”¦ crew guys that are temporary come in and screw the moment”¦ we had a sound man that we had to let go of and another sound man quit because we let him go and a temporary guy came in and left one of the drums off. So Shawn [Drover, Megadeth drummer] wanted to kill him. And I figured that rather than us playing in prison like the other M band [laughs], we would well get Shawn out of a potential murder case. So we got rid of the sound man and another guy came in. And it’s like at some point you look at all this stuff and it’s like, it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter because it’s us and you ”“ the fans. And it’s like tonight, someone said something earlier, what do you expect from the audience? I don’t expect nothing from the audience. I expect me and the boys to deliver to you. You are here to be entertained. If we need you to make us play better, we shouldn’t be here. If we’re expecting for the audience to entertain us, we are on the wrong side of the stage.
Have you been listening to the bands that have been playing so far ”“ the Indian bands?
Yeah, some of them are good, some of them suck. I mean, that’s how life is. I heard one instrument a half hour, maybe an hour ago, that sounded like the flute. So it’s an indigenous instrument to Asian culture and stuff. You know like the AC/DC song ”˜It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Wanna Rock ”˜n’ Roll’ – they had a bagpipe in there. Now, who would have a bagpipe in metal? Well, we did. We did it on the last record [2004’s The System Has Failed]. Because I loved how it sounded so much, I put it in a song called ”˜Shadow of Deth.’
I don’t know if [the others in Megadeth] have heard anything themselves but I know that with Chris [Broderick]’s guitar playing stuff ”“ he’s got all kinds of degrees and stuff like that ”“ so he’s probably heard stuff these guys have done. He can tell you what instrument, what mode, which guy was doing the wrong note on stage. And we’re gonna go on to the studios as soon as we get finished with this tour and take some time off and start writing. And get ready for the next record which is exciting for us. And Chris being such a learned guitar player, for us it is exciting. Instead of going into the studio and saying why don’t we come up with something, there’s a wealth of knowledge there that we haven’t tapped yet.
How did Chris come along? Was he the absolute first choice?
You know what – he was hired within 24 hours of us finding out that Glen [Drover] had put in his resignation. We had heard that, Glen told our management what was going on and we accepted that. And Shawn had recommended Chris in an e-mail to me. And he says, “All Chris does is he plays guitar and works out all day along. He doesn’t drink, he doesn’t get loaded.” And I thought, jeez, that’s like having somebody drop a goose that lays golden eggs right into your lap. You know what I mean. We always know what he’s at, he’s not a troublemaker. He has a lot to learn still, obviously, because he’s only been in the band two months. But he is a very smart guy and I know that he knows that Megadeth is major league and that everything he’s done before that, that’s been in the minors.
I read somewhere about you mentioning that his sound is pretty similar to Marty Friedman’s.
Well, no. He says that. I believe that, but I didn’t say that. All I’m saying is what he’s saying; I’m repeating it. His influences are Marty Friedman. And what I said was, “I bet you never thought all those hours of masturbating to Marty Friedman solos would’ve paid off.” [Laughs] And you know, he sounds more like Marty than Glen did. Because Glen was influenced by Chris Poland. Now, since we play more music from the era that Marty was in the band, that’s the reason he would sound better ”“ he is influenced by the guy we play more music by.
It’s been a fantastic year for India as far as metal is concerned. Iron Maiden’s been here twice in less than twelve months. Now you guys are here, Machine Head is here.
Well, we wanted to come here for a while but it’s just so far away from anything that we were doing. I mean, in order to come here from the West, we would have had to play Israel and then connected. And in order to come from the East, we would have had to be playing Australia, Japan or Korea. This last tour, we were able to break down a lot of borders, and get into places that were still pending. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia”¦
What did you have in mind when coming here to India?
No, I didn’t have any ideas about what to expect here other than what you see in these Bollywood commercials. And then of course you see stuff on the Simpsons which is terribly degrading, I think, for Indian nationals.
We’re staying at the Taj and it was amazing. There are 110 or so rooms there, and 600 people on the staff. We walked in there and there are girls everywhere waiting with flowers and they put the stuff on our foreheads, gave us some juice and there’s this dude saluting us ”“ all this kind of shit and we are like, “Hey, this is okay.” Of course, we know this is not reality in this country. That the normal salt of the earth, the Indian people here don’t live like that. All that does for me is continue to reaffirm for me how important it is for Megadeth to come here and bring our music, to bring freedom and our message of freedom, whether it’s personal or political, to the metal audience. Whether it’s metal or even rock & roll because we appeal to rock people. We even appeal to some pop fans ”“ they know that we are not a real ugly looking band. So there are a lot of people who tend to say, “I can’t believe these guys don’t all look like Lemmy!”