DAVE MUSTAINE: New MEGADETH Album Sounds 'Unlike Anything We've Ever Done Before'

June 8, 2011

Pure Grain Audio recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Pure Grain Audio: What can you tell us about the new album's sound? How would you describe it compared to your last record "Endgame"?

Dave: Different, a hundred percent different, unlike anything we've ever done before because the guitar sounds are different; it sounds really super-modern. If I was going to say it sounds like a particular band, I would say it sounds like really old classic [BLACK] SABBATH and with a little bit of a modern edge of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE kind of thing. But then again, with the twists and turns of music that MEGADETH has been famous for over the years, you never know how it'll turn out. I think it's cool to have songs that aren't just verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, out, although that's a timeworn recipe for success. For me, like I was talking to Johnny K, our co-producer here, and I said to him in the beginning, MEGADETH isn't just one-two, one-two, one-two, we take right turns every once in a while. Sometimes we'll be driving along absolutely fine and we'll do a U-turn, just because we want to revisit something or there's a lick or a riff that's really cool that we want to come back to. Sometimes a song, just in the middle you have to completely chuck where you're going and switch horses in the middle of the stream and get over to another part of the song. A perfect example would be like in "Wake Up Dead". At the end of "Wake Up Dead", the song stops and drops in tempo and does something completely different. Or in songs like "In My Darkest Hour" where at the end it just jumps up in tempo to breakneck speed and just hold-on-to-your-hat kind of thing. So I think that this record has tons of stuff. When we started this record, I had the eleven new songs that I was going to do that's on my contract and then the twelfth song that's due to the Japanese audience, and that was it. And then Johnny said, "Yeah, but the record company said they'd like you to get to fifteen songs." And I said, "That's great, but my contract says twelve, so that's what we're doing." So we got all the way done with the twelfth song and we started arranging the twelfth song and halfway through it I just started writing this other thing and we're calling it "song 13" right now. It just came out of nowhere. It's probably the most melodic, most-geared-for-success song out of the whole record based on what makes a song successful and stuff like that, because, you know, it's got really open picking and some acoustic parts and, you know, melodic things and stuff like that. There's some heaviness on it, too. The point I'm trying to make, I guess, long story boring, I did go beyond what my contract says again, which I've always done my whole career; I've always tried to over-deliver. I think we've got probably our best effort since the "Countdown To Extinction" era.

Pure Grain Audio: Are the songs all recent creations or have some of them been hanging around now for a while?

Dave: Basically, when we had started off this record, we had a videogame we were doing a song for, and that was Guitar Hero, and when we had done that song, it got nominated for a Grammy and it was a very successful track for us. Roadrunner said to us that we can include it on our next record and we thought that's great We have some songs that we started at various times that I had started over my career that just never got out of the blocks for lack of a better term. But it's not like doing "A Tout Le Monde" again. The whole thing with "A Tout Le Monde", for me, was I wanted that song to be a B-side for Japan, and just a couple of records ago we did "A Tout Le Monde", which is one of the main breakups between me and Roadrunner. The president [of the label] took what I wanted to be a B-side and forced it to be the first lead single off the domestic release, which I thought was a terrible decision and we paid for it dearly. But as far as this record, there's nothing like that. We've got some songs from years and years ago that we never recorded even though we did demos for them, but they just never saw the light of day. Those are songs that we've looked at and rearranged and made them modern and had recorded them. But, you know, there's a lot of brand new stuff. Like I said, one as new as just from a couple of days ago.

Pure Grain Audio: You're working with Johnny K as a producer, as you said, there on this new record instead of Andy Sneap who took care of the last two albums. Why did you decide to go with Johnny and what's it been like working with him?

Dave: Well, you know, one thing with MEGADETH is we've always tried to keep it current with our production team, you know, not getting too attached to any one person, although a lot of the guys we've worked with have been great and there was no clear reason for having broken up the time other than keeping it fresh. With not working with Andy Sneap, he just wasn't available. Andy had some stuff that came up right in the middle of the time that we were available to do our work. Usually when a band is ready to go in the studio, they go in and they stay in, they don't go in and come out and go back in again, and I've found that to be really difficult for me because I lose stride and it just wasn't going to happen for us. We weren't going to get the record done in time because we had this Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem tour and we had to get this done before we leave, you know. We have more "Big Four" dates coming up. When Johnny's name came up, I didn't even know who he was, and I said something to a couple of the other guys, [and] they were like, "Oh, Johnny K! Oh, really?! Wow!" And I was like "Hmm, OK," kind of like, you know, when someone says, "Try this, it tastes like chicken." So he came out here and we talked a little bit. We went an entire month, the entire first month, [with] not one disagreement. There were some moments where we were trying to align our thinking and, you know, I think because we're two different guys from two different sides of the country and different histories, I think there was a necessity for us to get our lingo in order. But as far as us having a desire to make this project a success, I think that we all have that first and foremost in our heads and that's what we want to do. So right now Shawn [Drover, drums] finished all of his tracks, he's gone, we left the drum kit up there in case we decide that something needs to be fixed or changed or whatever. And I'm doing guitar today and Dave Ellefson and Chris Broderick are coming in Monday to finish up bass and the other guitar and then it's singing, solos, ear candy and then we're done.

Read the entire interview from Pure Grain Audio.

Photo credit: Stephanie Cabral

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