D.M. interview s Jeffrey Easton
Not to many songwriters/performers can say that they have had a profound influence on a generation of performers like Dave Mustaine can. With the precision riffs and superior songwriting that was the hallmark of early Megadeth records, Dave and company set a trend that would help kick start a genre with a few other bands of their peers that would still be felt years later. I had the opportunity to talk to Dave himself about the Gigantour that he has kicked off along with many other topics that we both found intriguing. Dave is a very personable person and was a pleasure to talk to.
Jeffrey Easton interviewing Dave Mustaine
Jeff: It was just announced that you split from Sanctuary. Why was that?
Dave: It expired.
Jeff: There was no reason for you to renew the deal?
Dave: I will say there were things that happened towards the end that I did not agree with.
Jeff: You are just kicking off Gigantour, how did it come together?
Dave: A lot of hard work.
Jeff: How did you make it so fan friendly as far as the ticket prices go with so many bands on the bill?
Dave: Well, I approached this with the idea of being a fan and not some corporate pig. I just wanted to make sure I had good quality talent, it was the timing (When and where) and most importantly it was the ticket prices. It was hard to make it happen because the ticket prices were so low but the important thing was that the fans could afford to come to the show.
Jeff: Did you have to take concessions from the bands like the operator of the Warped Tour does?
Dave: I think that would be a good way to put it.
Jeff: The tickets are low and you have some great bands on the bill, like Megadeth and Nevermore.
Dave: Well thank you.
Jeff: How were you able to keep them so low. There are some other touring festivals and their prices are quite a bit higher and it is the same caliber of bands.
Dave: Some guys are going to walk away from this tour making money, some bands are going to break even and some are going to be in the hole. It was never about making money for me, it was about taking back the metal to the fans.
Jeff: You are taking it back, especially with Nevermore and Fear Factory on the same bill.
Dave: I think it is eclectic enough that the fans of Fear Factory that do not know who Nevermore is will see a great band if they are there on time. As for Nevermore fans that stick around for the rest of the show will see some great bands as well. There are also some great bands on the second stage as well.
Jeff: Yeah, I have never seen Bobaflex.
Dave: I like them and I like the fact their lyrics are not about disemboweling virgins or any of the other stupid crap you hear.
Jeff: So I take it you are not a fan of gore based death metal?
Dave: I do not know if that is what it’s called. To me it is just stupid. I can just picture Lance Armstrong riding and thinking about cutting somebody’s guts out.
Jeff: Do you think he listens to Megadeth?
Dave: No, probably Sheryl Crow.
Jeff: Now, you have another Best Of called Back To The Start. Why another one? Was this the labels idea?
Dave: Yes it was the labels idea but the tracks were the fans idea, they picked them.
Jeff: AS far as the label wanting to do this, you just had Capital Punishment a few years ago.
Dave: That was something I was not behind at all. That was the label’s idea as that was part of our negotiations.
Jeff: To get out of your contract with Capital. AS far as Gigantour goes, was there anybody that turned you down?
Dave: Turned me down? Well, I cannot really think of any bands that turned me down but there was one band that we talked to but one of the members was talking poorly about one of the other bands on the festival. We decided to not proceed with that and they also have conflicting schedules. I asked what their schedule was and he said he had two concerts over a two-month period. I said, “Dude, do you realize you are going to play for upwards to 300,000 people?”
Jeff: Well, those concerts mean a lot to him.
Dave: Evidently so and I am not one to say that he did the wrong thing. My role in Rock N Roll history is to make the right decisions so that people that come after me have it that much easier.
Jeff: The ones that come after you??
Dave: Yeah, my successors.
Jeff: I misinterpreted you, I thought the people that are coming after you.
Dave: Oh, I am waiting for those fuckers. Face it, when I started in a previous band we were going across the country we were telling people how it was going to be for the next 30 or 40 years in the metal business. Every right decision I make makes it easier for those who follow us.
Jeff: As far as Dream Theater goes, what made you feel that they would compliment you? They are a long ways away from your sound.
Dave: If both of us were the same one of us would be unnecessary and one would have to go and you know who that would be. I think it is the caliber of musicianship and the type of people that they are. I do not know them as people but I do know they have been gracious so far and I know that their fans are rabid.
Jeff: Yes, they are a bunch of diehards.
Dave: That’s ok because Megadeth ones are as well.
Jeff: They supported you for many years.
Dave: I think that is because they know what they get from me, I am not one of those guys that is hard to figure out. If I say it its pretty clear.
Jeff: If anything you say it with your music and I have had no problems with what you have put out.
Jeff: Speaking of, how do you feel about The System Has Failed now?
Dave: I still like the record because it is the best record I have put out in years. It is kind of sad with the way things are now, I wish the situation were different. Unfortunately everything is new but I know I have another record in me.
Jeff: Would that be a Megadeth or Dave record?
Dave: I am not sure about that yet. I do know this, there will be some exciting times in the next few years. I will be spending some time with my family and getting to know my new band mates, which I really like.
Jeff: You do have some talented band mates, I have seen you live a few times with the new lineup.
Dave: You have?
Jeff: I was at the ESP party you played at NAMM.
Dave: Oh God.
Jeff: You sound like that is a bad thing. I had a great time seeing it.
Dave: Did you? It was so hard for us.
Jeff: Why was it hard for you?
Dave: I could not hear what was going on and George Lynch was there and that was somebody I really respect. I was thinking “George, please do not watch us.”
Jeff: I thought you guys were good and I was standing next to a friend from Century Media and I said to him this is the only time we will see Megadeth and not get killed up front. You do have a great line up and they seem to be good guys. On the last record again, where was your head at when you were writing this record??
Dave: Well, I had been set free from the bondage of past members and past mentalities. I was on my own so I wanted to see what it was, was it this problem or that problem. Was it this guy or that guy, lets see what it is. Lets write from the heart and see what you make and I think I made a good record. I know I have another one in there because when I got ready to do this record I was doing two records at once. I was going to do a solo record, release that one, take some time off and release another one. Half way through it they said no, a Dave Mustaine record is fine but you owe us a Megadeth record and until you give us that we own you forever. I said ok, this is a Megadeth record.
Jeff: Don’t you like how record company politics control how you do things?
Dave: This was actually the publishing company telling me this. I am satisfied with them so that is why I hesitate to change them.
Jeff: As far as it being a Megadeth record, it reminded me more of the Symphony Of Destruction type era meets Hangar 18. It has that mentality and that is how I felt when I first heard the record.
Dave: That’s cool because that’s where I feel that it fits in, in between Rust in Peace and Countdown To Extinction.
Jeff: What made you decide to re-release your catalog now?
Dave: That was something that EMI suggested to me. We talked about remixing it and remastering it just to make it more exciting to buy. Remixing it and remastering does not meant it was bad, I just wanted people to hear it if it had been done my way. In some cases, my way is the way it was but sometimes it was not.
Jeff: There were some rumors going around that you went back and changed a lot on the old records.
Dave: That is not true at all. I had to go back and add things that were missing, tracks that disappeared. The technology back then meant we had to use slave tapes. There would be two reels of tape and you would have tracks somewhere else. If you had the slave tape it would be great but if you did not you would be missing tracks. There were parts missing from different albums and no vocals for the MD 45 record.
Jeff: That explains why you sang on that.
Dave: We could have had Lee come back but I wanted to see what it would sound like if I sang on it. There were a lot of people that wanted me to sing on so I did.
Jeff: Either way it is still a good album.
Dave: Thank you.
Jeff: I wanted to touch on why you went to ESP after being with Jackson for so long.
Dave: Fender bought out Jackson and the offer that they made me was not acceptable. It was not a mutual parting of ways, I know they wanted me there it is just I cannot go from one thing to something drastically different. I parted ways with them and went to ESP and I am happy there. Jackson makes great guitars but ESP is all around a better fit for me.
Jeff: Why do you say that?
Dave: Better people, better treatment, guitars are as good if not better than Jackson’s. I have not played an ESP that I did not like.
Jeff: The sounds on the new record are great and you extracted great tones from your ESP. No matter what you play, it is still you playing and it is your sound so whatever you play will always sound like Dave Mustaine.
Dave: Well thank you.
Jeff: To go back some, you were in The Metal Years. How did you get roped into appearing in that movie?
Dave: I always liked Penelope and I think she is a fantastic lady. When she asked us to play in that movie I was thrilled. If I had of know that I was going to be associating with all of those poseurs I would have been scared to. Half of the guys in that movie were such buffoons.
Jeff: That is probably why she put you at the end.
Dave: It is like what I said earlier, you do not have to guess what I am thinking, and we do not do this for the almighty dollar. We do not, we never have. We have played places that I could have charged a hefty fee but I do not do that which is why I think I still have respect in this business. A lot of people think I am difficult, I am not, and I am driven. A lot of people think I am an asshole, I may be an asshole to you if you ask me to do something I do not want to do and I say no. It is like you go up to a girl at the dance and you ask her to dance with you. She says no so you say “ok bitch, you do not know what you are missing.” I consider myself to be a professional and I know we are all in this together. You and me are partners weather you know it or not, if you say something bad about me, it is not that you are out to get me, it is your job. You are out to get people to say something interesting so people will read your stuff.
Dave: I do not take offense at people who say something about me, I do not mind people being critical of me but it does hurt me when they say something that is not true.
Jeff: I will say this, I am probably one of the few people who actually liked Risk for what it is. It is not a good Megadeth record but it is not a bad album. It would have been better as a Dave solo CD.
Dave: That is how I explained it and I did take a risk by putting it out, that is why I called it Risk.
Jeff: If Breadline did not have the Megadeth tag to it, it would have been a big hit.
Jeff: I heard it on the radio a lot here, but you know when the normal person asked who it was they were probably saying Megawho???
Dave: Cant be Megadeth, got to be Megalife or Mega beaten up really good. (laughter)
Jeff: I am able to look at stuff and take away the name and decide if it is good based on the songs' merits.
Dave: You showed me your cards earlier when you said you played guitar and that you write a little bit so you know the struggles that we face. It is not really hard to pick up an instrument and make some music but it does get a little difficult when you want it to sound good. It gets really hard when you try and assemble lyrics that make sense and sound good. To make something that somebody like yourself would say that I would want to hear this while I am fucking or fighting, at my wedding or my funeral (Writers note: Sometimes the last one can be one in the same.) Driving in my car or playing poker or doing whatever you want to do, to have a song that just does it for you. My whole thing is that I know God put me on this planet for a reason to play music to bring joy into people lives, to find other people that are like me and give them hope so they can continue to carry on the music. When a guy comes up to me and says that I am God, it makes me uncomfortable. When I fan comes up to me and tells me that a song of mine helped him through a hard life, I just want to hug him.
Jeff: I got one of my first speeding tickets to Hangar 18.
Dave: Speeding?? (Laughter)
Jeff: Yeah, it was one of my favorite songs from that era.
Dave: I am so sorry.
Jeff: Don’t be, it was well worth it.
Dave: I will tell you something, when I came out of retirement I had a bunch of songs in my pro tools that I had saved over the years and some are a lot like Kick The Chair, which reminds me of Take No Prisoners. When my heart feels happy and I am around people I want to be with, good things happen.
Jeff: That would explain your last studio record.
Dave: You know, I did the majority of my writing in my house with Lance Dean. Lance is a brilliant engineer and is very quiet. He is the perfect partner to work with in the studio and he does not try and tell me what to do.
Jeff: Nobody tells Dave what to do?
Dave: No, I need that sometimes. If they are right it makes it easy to accept criticism. If they are wrong and we are debating and they are open minded to see my side, and then we are cool. If they are adamant and they are wrong then it hurts the relationship. I know the majority of the times I am right is about 30% and I am teachable 100% of the time.
Jeff: I take criticisms on the way I word something or how I use grammar but I will not allow someone to tell me how I feel about something. If the record is good then fine, if it is not then I will not fudge it as I have freedom of speech.
Dave: I do not know if you have read my posts at my Website but I try to write as literary as possible. I figure a lot of kids will read this and there is so much trash out there. What does that do for you, nothing.
Jeff: I know my time is up and I have to say thank you for your time.
Dave: Thanks for taking the time!
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