In a new interview with Vinyl Writer Music, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine said that he has been "secretly hoping there'd be a day" when he could write music again with his former bandmate in METALLICA, James Hetfield. He added: "I think the world really does want us to do that, and I think there is a pretty good possibility of it happening down the line."
He continued: "I do think that it's possible that one day James is going to come around and that he and I are going to be able to do something together again. I guess that's one of the things that has always kept me pushing forward. I think it'd be good for MEGADETH, and it could be great for METALLICA too."
Back in 2012, Mustaine apologized to Hetfield for publicly discussing the fact that Dave wanted to assemble a "supergroup" combining Mustaine and then-MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson with Hetfield and METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich.
Hetfield laughed off talk of a possible collaboration between members of his band and members of MEGADETH in an interview, calling it "crazy" talk on the part of Mustaine. An early member of METALLICA before being kicked out in early 1983, Mustaine has jammed with his ex-bandmates on several occasions in 2010 and 2011 during "Big Four" shows and at METALLICA's 30th anniversary concerts.
Hetfield told So What!, METALLICA's fan club magazine, "I see [Mustaine] healthier now. I see him as less of a bitter guy. But I do see a lot of stuff in the press with him talking about jamming with us and making an album. All this other crazy stuff. I read it and say to myself, 'Hold on. This is the Dave that we kind of wanted to forget about. You know, the big-mouth that wants to just go-go-go."
Hetfield added, "But there is an authenticity about him when he speaks. He doesn't think too much before he does. He just goes off the cuff. Plus, when he says stuff like that, it's well-intended."
In an interview with Artisan News, Mustaine was asked about Hetfield's comments. "I already sent [James] a text message and said I apologized to him for saying that and that I won't ever mention it again," Mustaine said. "I like James and I thought what he said was flattering, and then it kind of went the opposite way, and then it kind of came back again. And you know, that's okay. I guess my whole thing was I just wanted them to know that I loved them and that I missed them and I enjoyed playing with them. If that's not mutual, then I understand. I still respect him, and I still care about the guy. If he doesn't wanna play [with me] anymore, that's cool. If he doesn't like the idea of what I said, that's okay, too. It wasn't like I said it was gonna happen, it was something that I kind of wished would happen. But you know, it's okay now, since it doesn't seem like it's gonna happen. And you know what?! It's off my bucket list."
He added, "The thing is that I probably shouldn't have said stuff like that, 'cause, I guess, to some people, they may think that I'm trying to use that as a way to get publicity, so I can see where there would be some feelings about it, and that wasn't my intention."
Mustaine feuded with the members of METALLICA for more than two decades before finally patching things up more than a decade ago.
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 the band.
"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, METALLICA guitarist 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."