CHRIS POLAND Says He Was 'Bussing Tables' At Denny's After Leaving MEGADETH: I Had To 'Eat' And 'Pay The Rent'
June 9, 2022
In a new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice, former MEGADETH guitarist Chris Poland spoke about what he did for work after he left the Dave Mustaine-fronted outfit in 1987. "I was bussing tables from midnight to 8 a.m. at [American casual diner-style restaurant] Denny's after I left MEGADETH," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "And I would be bussing tables on a weekend, and some guy would go, 'Dude, you're Chris Poland.' [Laughs] And I'd have to go, 'Yeah, I am.' [Laughs] And it was so weird, because he just looked at me, like, 'Dude, what the fuck are you doing here?' And I would just say, 'Hey, man, I've gotta eat. I've gotta pay the rent.'
"When you think of it now, it is pretty crazy, because at that time MEGADETH was beyond gold — 'Peace Sells' was really like a train," Chris continued. "And here I am bussing tables in the middle of the night at Denny's.
"I also had shit happen where I'd be at the beach with my girlfriend, and there'd be, like, six guys walking down the boardwalk in Venice wearing MEGADETH shirts," Poland recalled. "And at the time my girlfriend said, 'Hey, you guys. You know who this is? This is Chris Poland from MEGADETH.' And they would just go, 'Yeah, right. Fuck off,' and then walk away. [Laughs] So I've had every little version of weirdness from being in that band, let me tell you."
Asked if ever regretted leaving MEGADETH, Chris said: "It was just meant to be. It got to the point where it was just time… It wasn't working for anybody anymore. Who knows what would have happened if I stayed in the band? It was probably best that I didn't. [Laughs] Probably drugs would have killed somebody, or all of us. Who knows?"
Poland was a member of MEGADETH from 1984 to 1987, during which time he performed on the band's classic albums "Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!" and "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" He is also a featured soloist on the group's 2004 album, "The System Has Failed".
This past February, Poland reflected on the lawsuit he reportedly filed against MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine over the 2004 reissue of the band's "Rust In Peace" album, which contained demos on which Chris performed.
"I know there was some flak after when [Dave] released the demo solos or whatever," Poland told Rock Talks. "And I couldn't get hold of Dave. I called his manager 10 times and finally, on the eleventh time, I left a message. I said, 'If you don't call me back, you're gonna be hearing from [my attorney].' And so he calls me back. And then he insults me and tells me, 'Well, Chris, all you did was a couple of solos and Dave and us thought that you would just do it for the fans.' And I'm, like, 'Hey, I did it for the fans, but everybody else is getting paid. I'd like to get paid for it.' So then [it got] totally blown out of proportion. I got belittled by everybody, and it's, like, 'C'mon. Really?'" He added: "People love drama, I guess. I don't know."
Chris went on to say that he hasn't had any contact with Mustaine in nearly two decades. "I haven't spoken with Dave since… I can't remember when. I guess back when I made 'The System [Has Failed]'," he said. "[After the dispute over the 2004 'Rust In Peace' reissue], he was, like, 'That's it. [Chris has] ruined our friendship.' And I'm, like, 'C'mon. Really?' But… whatever."
In a September 2020 interview with Darren Paltrowitz (host of the "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast), Mustaine singled out Poland, saying: "Chris Poland, as much as I don't really like the guy, he was a great guitar player, and I wanted to give him a shot when we did the 2004 reissues for 'Peace Sells' and 'Rust In Peace', and I wanted to put that song out on the 'Rust In Peace' reissue. He got involved in a nuisance lawsuit, I think it was, and we just ended our friendship. And I thought, 'God, that was such a waste.'
"There was a little teeny mountain that was right out by where we live, and I said I could have just as soon bought that piece of dirt there than sell Chris's friendship, and I'm so bummed that this happened," Mustaine added. "'Cause I thought it would have been terrific to have him on the record. [When] people say, 'Hey, this sounds like Marty Friedman.' No, Marty Friedman sounded like this, because Chris played it first."
Back in 2004, Poland and/or his management and attorney filed a lawsuit against Mustaine regarding the use of the three "Rust In Peace" demos on the album's reissue without Chris's permission. According to MEGADETH's webmaster, Mustaine included the demos because he thought Chris would be "thankful for the promotion, the tipping of the hat, and showing the fans how Marty [Friedman, MEGADETH's guitarist during some of the post-Poland years] had actually been influenced by some of Chris's solo selections for those songs." Chris also allegedly tried to sue Dave for defamation of character because Dave called him a "thief," but Chris's attorney "dropped that after he found out that Chris had actually taken the band's gear and sold it for drugs," according to MEGADETH's webmaster. "Remember, there is a confession in the VH1 'Behind the Music' on MEGADETH," the webmaster said. Chris eventually settled for $9,500 and thereby ended a professional relationship with Dave and MEGADETH.
Poland previously discussed the legal issues surrounding the 2004 reissue of "Rust In Peace" in a 2018 interview with the As The Story Grows podcast. He said: "When I did 'The System Has Failed', [Dave] was working on adding the demos to a re-release of 'Rust In Peace'. And I wasn't going to get paid, but I didn't realize that until it came out. I was like, 'Wait a minute — I'm not getting paid for this.' And I tried to call Dave at least a dozen times, and I never heard back from him. Then I called Dave's manager a dozen times, and he wouldn't get back to me. The last time I called him, I said, 'Hey, man. If you don't call me back, I'm going to call [my lawyer], and we're going to have to get into it.' [The manager] calls me back and totally insults me, saying, 'You played a couple solos. So what?' And I'm like, 'What do you mean, 'So what?'' 'Well, Dave thought that you would do it for the fans.' I said, 'Okay. Is everybody else that played on that demo doing it for the fans? Are they getting paid?' He said, 'Chris, that's not the point.' I said, 'Listen, man, we have to do something here. I'm not just going to walk away. I love the fans, but I'm just not going to do it. If everybody else is getting a performance royalty for this, I want one.' I want everybody to know that it wasn't a nuisance suit, it wasn't anything like that. I made every attempt to work it out, and they just ignored me."
For the past couple of decades, Poland's main musical focus has been the fusion band OHM:, which has released several full-length studio albums to date.