ANTHRAX's SCOTT IAN Looks Back On The Day METALLICA Fired DAVE MUSTAINE
November 1, 2020
In a brand new interview with MACHINE HEAD frontman Robb Flynn's "No Fuckin' Regrets With Robb Flynn" podcast, ANTHRAX guitarist Scott Ian recalled being present at METALLICA's rehearsal studios in Jamaica, Queens, New York in April 1983 shortly after the James Hetfield fronted-act fired Dave Mustaine just days before METALLICA began recording its debut album.
"They all drank, but Dave drank more than they did," Scott recalled wit ha laugh (see video below). "And the difference with Dave was, from my memory of that time, 'cause we were there all the time — we were hanging out with them all the time — all those other guys would get drunk and it was always fun, and Dave was kind of the not-fun guy when he would get too drunk. I mean, everybody knows one [guy like that]. And I think that was basically the beginning of the end, because now they were living together [at the rehearsal studio], and they were in close quarters all the time together, and I think they realized, they were, like, 'How the hell are we gonna keep doing this and move forward if we're constantly worrying about this?'
"I remember walking in one day and Cliff [Burton, then-METALLICA bassist] was standing outside having a smoke," he continued. "And I [said], 'Hey, man, what's up?' He was, like, 'Not much. We fired Mustaine. He's on a bus, he's on a Greyhound back to the [San Francisco] Bay Area.' [And I was, like], 'Yeah, right.' He was, like, 'No. I'm serious.' And it's Cliff, so he was that total ballbuster wise-ass. And he was just kind of smirking at me. And I'm, like, 'Shut up. You're playing a show week. Who's gonna play guitar?' He was, like, 'We've already got a guy coming.' I said, 'Get the fuck outta here.' He goes, 'Go upstairs. Ask James.' So I go up to the room. They're just kind of dicking around in the room. I don't see Dave. And I'm, like, 'What's going on? Cliff tells me you guys fired Dave.' And Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] was, like, 'We did. Early this morning, we put him on a bus. He's already five hours on the way back to California.' [I was, like], 'What? What?' We had no idea. I [said], 'What are you gonna do?' [They said], 'We've got this guy coming from this band EXODUS that we know. He's getting here tomorrow.'"
According to Scott, Mustaine was very much the focal point of METALLICA during the band's early live shows. "People don't know that," he said. "James wasn't James yet. When I first met James, he would drink and he would change, but James, he was kind of like a shy, quiet dude. Dave was the mouthpiece. Dave was the guy. He was the frontman — a hundred percent… He was the attitude; he was the personality — it was everything. And I was kind of, like, 'You think this is the right idea?' And [they said], 'We had to. We couldn't deal with it anymore. He was getting us into trouble.'
"Everyone knows the stories, but they just didn't wanna have to deal with that," Ian continued. "It was hard enough living on the floor of a freezing-cold building, I guess, and dealing with your own issues [and then] have to worry about someone else's… I mean, I get it. I understand. It's what had to happen in that moment. I've been there myself, making personnel changes in my band. I understand it. Sometimes it's the most impossible, worst thing in the world to have to do, but in order to take that next step forward, you have to."
In a 2009 interview with Norway's Lydverket, Mustaine said that he was "so hurt" by getting kicked out of METALLICA for allegedly drinking too much. "I said, 'What?! No second chance, no warning? C'mon, we all drink. C'mon.'" he recalled. "And [they were like], 'No, that's it. You're gone.' And I was like, 'All right.'"
Mustaine also went on to claim that an altercation with Hetfield led to his being fired from METALLICA.
"I was selling pot," Dave said. "When I would go play in concert, people knew that my pot was sitting in my apartment just saying, 'Go ahead and keep me company.' So I was broken in on. People stole everything that I had; all my stash. And I figured, screw this. I'm gonna get some dogs to stay in the apartment when I leave. So I got two dogs and I took one of them up to a rehearsal one time and she put her paws up on Ron's [McGovney, METALLICA's then-bassist] car. And James kicked it right in the side. And I was like, 'What did you do?' [And I was like] 'It's a dog, it's what they do. You don't kick animals.' So we went into the house, and we started arguing some more. And I ended up punching him in the face and I think that was the root of why I lost my job."
In a 2009 interview with the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas radio station 97.1 The Eagle Rocks, Hetfield said that it was "so odd" to hear Mustaine still talking about his exit from METALLICA. "It is very Dave, and that's him," James said. "And no matter what band he was in or whatever... I mean, Dave is not in this band for a reason, and this is the reason. It's super-simple. He was in the band for 11 months and it goes on and on and on and on and on. I don't know any other band on this planet that there was a member in the band for a short amount of time and they've still got this big chip on his shoulder. It's insane.... You know what?! He's in love, and that's fine, 'cause we love him back."
Back in 2016, Mustaine's METALLICA replacement, Kirk Hammett, told the "Word Of Wheeler" podcast that he understood Dave's continued resentment toward his former bandmates over the way he was dismissed from the group. "I've always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry, really frustrated about his situation with METALLICA, and he never could let that go," he said. "And, you know, I've always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off. It's the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you. I mean, really. When your band kicks you out… I've never been kicked out, but I can imagine it's a horrible experience, especially if it's a band that you feel really passionately about. So I can understand Dave's plight over all these years. But I will also say that when we did these 30th-anniversary shows at the Fillmore [in San Francisco], and we invited Dave to play on all those 'Kill 'Em All' songs, man, it felt so good to have him playing on stage. It felt perfectly fine for me to, while Dave was playing the guitar solos, for me to go over to James and play the rhythm parts with James, and it wasn't a big deal at all. And I could see from the look on Dave's face and just from his whole attitude that it was super-cathartic for him. And I could see how it was helping him. And so I just took it all in stride. And it's interesting, because since then, I think, Dave's relationship with us is a little bit better now. I'd like to think that that whole thing just kind of healed some scars that needed to be healed."
After Hammett's comments about Mustaine were reported by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and other music sites, Dave took to his Twitter to respond. He wrote: "I have tremendous respect for @KirkHammett and I appreciate his take on this. he is almost 100% accurate...almost. I wish him the best."
In a September 2011 interview with Artisan News, Mustaine appeared to concur that his onstage reunion with METALLICA went a long way toward healing the wounds from the way his tenure in the band ended. Dave said: "When we [played a cover of DIAMOND HEAD's] 'Helpless' [as part of a 'Big Four' jam] one night, I walked over to say hello to Kirk on the stage and he said, 'Do you wanna take the solo?" and I said, 'Yeah.' [Laughs] But we forgot to tell anybody on the stage or [running] the sound out front that I was gonna do the solo, so the song's playing along and Kirk's playing rhythm full blast, and I'm sitting there going you can't hear what I'm doing. At least we knew what had happened. It was kind of a symbolic passing of the torch back to me and it was a nice gesture. I think that that helped Kirk and my relationship improve a bit."
In a September 2004 interview, Mustaine famously stated, "I really don't care about Kirk — he stole my job, but at least I got to bang his girlfriend before he took my job. How do I taste, Kirk?"
Mustaine did not play on any METALLICA albums and did not attend their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009.
Ulrich later explained to The Plain Dealer that Mustaine was not included because "you've got to kind of cap it somewhere. Dave Mustaine never played on any METALLICA records. No disrespect to him. But there [were] half a dozen other people that were in the lineup in the early days. We thought . . . the fair thing to do would be to include anybody that played on a METALLICA record." He added: "Dave Mustaine was in the band for 11 months, predominantly in 1982... I'm not trying to play it down. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his accomplishments since."
Mustaine told Lydverket that he never had any intention of attending METALLICA's Rock Hall induction if he wasn't going to be honored along with his former bandmates.
"I think someone would have to be a complete fool to think I was gonna go there and sit in the audience and watch them be inducted into the Hall Of Fame," he said. "It was nice that Lars that invited me, but any of the public that thinks I was gonna go... But what are you — stupid?! I'm proud of them, I wish them well, but what do I have to do?! That's masochism."