J. Bennett of Decibel magazine (web site) recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:
Decibel: How directly is your born-again status connected to your sobriety?
Mustaine: My sobriety… well, if you mean do I do drugs, I don't. [But] I'm not a sober person; I'll have a glass of wine once in a while. As far as being in AA, I just found it to be too dangerous for a person like me because I learned more about getting high in AA than I ever did in any drug house I was ever in. It's supposed to be founded in believing in God, but say the word "God in an AA meeting and most people's asses grow together. So I kinda just went to the source. Instead of sitting in a room with a bunch of people talking about how much dope they've split and how little I've ever done, I figured I'd go direct to God, cut out the middleman, and not have to pay my dollar every week. But I don't have anything against AA — the real AA saved my life at one point, but it couldn't take me to where I wanted to go. So as far as faith is concerned, yeah, I got saved a while ago and it's a constant walk. It's something I have to work on every day. There are people that I pray for. There's people that I pray for that I love, and there's people that I pray that they go to heaven immediately. [Laughs] But I don't have a shitlist. You might get on it, though.
Decibel: I feel like it's heading that way. You mentioned the Catholic Church earlier, though — are you Catholic?
Mustaine: No. But it's well-documented that the first corporation in the world was the Catholic Church, so that wasn't a dig at anyone Catholic or anything like that.
Decibel: That's not what I was getting at. It's just that I don't know many people "of faith" who would attest to the fact that the Catholic Church is a corporation. People seem to be pretty deluded about that.
Mustaine: Yeah, well, I'm pretty transparent.
Decibel: A few years ago, you didn't want to play shows with ROTTING CHRIST and DISSECTION. Do you have a standing policy about playing with certain types of bands?
Mustaine: It's not necessarily a policy — I just follow my heart. Before, I used to follow my head, but my heart is closer to my gut. When I saw certain things I didn't agree with, I'd turn my head the other way before. I've never believed in singing about Satan and thinking he's cool, because he's not. When I was 15, I got into witchcraft and black magic, so I've known for over 30 years the power of the dark side, and it took me forever to break those chains. There's no cool way to sing about Satan — you look like a punk. For example, you know MERCYFUL FATE is one of my favorite musical groups, but the lyrics, to me, I can't get behind them. I don't mean to shame them — it's just not my bag. As far as me playing with bands like that, I started thinking, "You know what, Dave? You're a headliner. If you don't wanna play with people that make you uncomfortable, you don't have to." Especially if they're singing about the confessed enemy of someone you believe in… I mean, what idiot gets onstage with their confessed enemy? That'd be like two hip-hop guys who wanna kill each other going out together.
Decibel: King Diamond is definitely an actual Satanist, but Satanism is kind of a put-on for a lot of these other bands.
Mustaine: You think it's a put-on.
Decibel: Yeah, definitely.
Mustaine: You say that stuff, it's real. Words are real. Remember, I was into the one who was into the black side — you weren't. Were you?
Decibel: No, but why should that make a difference?
Mustaine: To say you're a confessed Satanist? I'm not intimidated by them, because I know they're just as misguided as I was at one time. But this is something that's a spiritual war and it doesn't have any place in a MEGADETH interview. A lot of people don't really care about what I believe — they just wanna hear what I play, and I'm fine with that. As far as the situation overseas you're alluding to, as a headliner who's sold as many records as I've sold and played in front of as many tens of millions of people as I've played to over my life — and this is the sunset of my career, where I get to enjoy the remaining years of my life — I don't wanna waste that. The promoter kicked them off and I was furious. It was like, "Well, why'd you put them on in the first place? Now that they're on, don't kick them off. We'll step down; we'll play another night." I'm not ever gonna kick a band off the bill if it's something I don't agree with. If I know about it ahead of time and I agree to it and change my mind, well, that's kind of chickenshit, isn't it?
Decibel: My point was that I think some of these bands are full of shit — that you shouldn't be as concerned about their beliefs, because for some of them, it's an act. And even real Satanists don't spend very much time hating God.
Mustaine: Well, the only other band I had a problem with was from overseas and the singer was a convicted double-murderer [referring to DISSECTION] and they'd been put on the show in Israel. Prior to that, I'd made a couple of things clear to my agent: I don't want tits and ass on my t-shirts, because I think that's kind of juvenile, and as far as the Satanic stuff, I've been there, done that and I found it kind of wanting. You can be so much heavier with stuff like a nuclear bomb than a pentagram. I mean, what's scarier: VX gas or an upside-down cross? So when the information was related to me that they'd been put on the bill, I said, "You know what? We can't play this show." And they'd kicked them off. But I was like, "Oh, my god, why did you do that?" Because that just makes me look like a fanatic and it doesn't really show the love that I have in my heart these days that I'd like to be able to share with these musicians. And this is really a fitting climax to anyone's career, because what do I have left to gain, my friend? A Grammy and getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Everyone thinks it's great to gets your hands stuck in cement in front of Guitar Center [on Sunset Boulevard in L.A.], but those are the things I'm looking for. I've got everything else I want: I've got a beautiful wife and kids — I've got a new puppy, for Chrissakes — everything in my life is looking up. I'm going to Hawaii next month to work on my tan for the next tour and see if I don't turn into a piece of flash paper. Whenever I go to the beach, it smells like pork rinds because I start to burn instantly.
Decibel's entire interview with Dave Mustaine can be found in the magazine's June 2007 issue, available on newsstands now. More information is available at DecibelMagazine.com.