In a new interview with Guitar.com, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine was asked if his reputation for being outspoken has benefited or hindered his career in the long run. He responded: "There's three sides to every story, right. There's my side, there would be the other person's side, and then there would be the truth which is somewhere right in the middle.
"You know, oddly enough that was one of the last conversations I ever had with [METALLICA guitarist/vocalist] James Hetfield because we were talking about getting back together and doing a project," he continued. "Something had come up about the publishing discrepancy that we have been arguing about for years and years and years, and I told James, 'I'll do it but we've got to get this stuff sorted out first'. And he said, 'Oh yeah, sure'. So I said, 'Now these two songs you and me split 50/50. Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] didn't write on this song — you know that. I don't know why you gave him percentages but I'm not. I'm not going to sign another deal that's gonna confirm that because I never agreed to that'. And James said, 'Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,' and I said that's fine; there's his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere. And that blew his mind, and we haven't talked since."
Mustaine added: "You know, I was trying to be really friendly with him; he told me that the last three projects they did bombed, and they wanted to go back and use all the stuff that I was on, and I said sure. As soon as I said that 'three stories' bit, it was over."
Nearly three years ago, Mustaine said that he didn't want to "perpetuate false information" by giving Ulrich songwriting credit on the previously announced expanded version of METALLICA's 1982 demo tape, "No Life 'Til Leather".
"No Life 'Til Leather" was released as a limited-edition cassette for Record Store Day in April 2015, available exclusively in independent record stores. It featured artwork copies from drummer Ulrich's own personal copy of the original demo, as well as his handwriting. At the time, the band also promised that expanded editions of the demo, which had never before been commercially available, would arrive on CD, vinyl and in a collector's set.
The seven-song tape was recorded with the first lineup of the band that appeared live as METALLICA, including Ulrich, Hetfield, lead guitarist Mustaine and bassist Ron McGovney. The original recordings were paid for by High Velocity record label owner Kenny Kane, with a view of making them available as an EP in 1982.
Mustaine discussed the proposed expanded edition of "No Life 'Til Leather" during a June 2018 interview with U.K.'s Kerrang! magazine. Saying that the last time he spoke to Hetfield was when the METALLICA guitarist/vocalist called him to talk about the "No Life 'Til Leather" re-release, Mustaine recalled: "He was trying to get me to give publishing over to Lars, despite James and I being the sole songwriters. Lars wanted a percentage and I just said no. I love James, he's a terrific guitar player, but yeah, I can't do that. The songs are already out there. I'm not going to release something just to have a product to sell — especially if they are perpetuating false information. Lars did not write the songs. It was just me and James. Period."
Ulrich told Metal Forces in 2016 that "some unexpected difficulties on the legal side… prevented the 'No Life 'Til Leather' box set and our vision for how we were going to kick this whole reissue series off. We spent some time doing that dance, but then James and I decided that it wasn't worth it getting bogged down in all the unpleasantries, because this was supposed to be a celebration and not end up being a tug of war, so we thought, 'You know what? Fuck it. We'll just move on to 'Kill 'Em All'," he said.
Ulrich did not want to get into the details of the exact issues that were preventing the demo tape from being released. "It's a little more complicated than that," he said. "There's no reason to go deeper into it. It was just something that we hadn't expected."
Back in November 2017, Mustaine tweeted that he was contacted by Hetfield two years earlier about "officially" releasing "No Life Till Leather" with "27 tracks, pics, the whole enchilada," but, he said, "the talks broke down because Lars wanted credit on two songs I wrote every note and word to. I have the texts. I passed."
When Ulrich spoke to Metal Forces in 2016, he made it clear that METALLICA was still hopeful that the expanded version "No Life 'Til Leather" would arrive at a later date. "As you know, I am the eternal optimist, and I am the eternal 'glass is well fucking half full,' so who knows?" he said. "I think some of those parties have circled back around now that they've seen that this is real and so we'll have to see. It would be great to share 'No Life 'Til Leather' in a year or two with our fans and with the people that care. We haven't shut the door on it."
"No Life 'Til Leather" was recorded on July 6, 1982 at Chateau East Studio in Tustin, California. All the songs on the tape later appeared on the band's 1983 debut album, "Kill 'Em All", including "Hit The Lights", "Motorbreath", "Jump In The Fire", "Seek And Destroy", "Metal Militia", "Phantom Lord" and "The Mechanix", which was renamed "The Four Horsemen" on the album.
"No Life 'Til Leather" track listing:
01. Hit The Lights
02. The Mechanix
04. Seek & Destroy
05. Metal Militia
06. Jump In The Fire
07. Phantom Lord
"No Life 'Til Leather" recording lineup:
James Hetfield - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Lars Ulrich - drums
Dave Mustaine - lead guitar
Ron McGovney - bass
Mustaine was a member of METALLICA for less than two years, from 1981 to 1983, before being dismissed and replaced by Kirk Hammett.
Mustaine was not inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with METALLICA during the April 2009 ceremony at Cleveland, Ohio's Public Auditorium. Ulrich later explained to The Plain Dealer that 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 eleven months, predominantly in 1982... I'm not trying to play it down. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his accomplishments since."