December 10, 2011

Steven Rosen of recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below. When you remixed the first eight MEGADETH albums, did you gain any insight into your own legacy?

Mustaine: It was really fun to go back and listen to all of that stuff. You got to relive it and sometimes it was kind of a drag because you're going back to that moment and there were times where it was difficult. There were parts that were really not appealing to have to live through again. There were things I did and the other guys had done that just made it not really fun to be around everybody because we kind of lost sight of what was going on. We kinda lost the plot. But there were more positive moments than negative ones?

Mustaine: Always more good times than bad. I had said in "Loved To Death" that "I remember bad times/More than good" and that's just human nature. You do remember the bad ones more than the good but that doesn't mean there isn't more good than bad. It just means we gravitate over towards those things. It's kinda like when you get old and you start comparing scars. I just did Eddie Trunk's "That Metal Show" and Rex Brown and Vinny Appice were all on the same episode as me and everybody was talkin' about getting hurt and stuff like that. And I said, "What is this? 'M*A*S*H'?" And I mean, honestly, it was like that — a bunch of old veterans who'd gone out there and we'd just pounded ourselves into the ground to deliver music to our fans. And sometimes you don't realize how much that wears and tears on ya. In your new autobiography, "Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir", there are a lot of photos but you're hardly ever smiling. Why?

Mustaine: Let me give you an image here: You're watching one of those wildlife programs and it's a beautiful golden desert and you see this gazelle running and right behind it you see the lion. Is the lion smiling? Are you the lion?

Mustaine: I'm a survivalist and it has been chasing what you need to survive. For us, we've had a lot of opposition from the industry and we had a lot of opposition because of our own behavior and choices that we'd done. We've had our own problems that have happened from people that wanted to work with us and for whatever reason we'd say "No" and they'd walk away and say, "This guy is a dick" and make up a story. When it was just a simple no. I remember when we were auditioning guitar players and one guy came up and it was so hilarious. He auditioned for us and didn't make it and went and told people he had written the music for "Wake Up Dead", which was on our second record ["Peace Sells…But Who's Buying?"] We were auditioning guitar players before we did "Rust In Peace", so this guy was off by two records because we had done "Peace Sells" and "So Far, So Good…So What!" by then. There are so many weird people in the world and you start auditioning musicians and you find out how really truly peculiar musicians are. In the book, you wrote about playing with METALLICA, SLAYER and ANTHRAX at the first "Big Four" concert back on June 16, 2010. Was that a kind of vindication for you?

Mustaine: There was really no vindication necessary because in essence that would kind of give the impression I felt I was losing something. We had been friends for a while and when the four of us parted ways musically — Kirk Hammett wasn't part of the picture and Robert Trujillo obviously wasn't either — it was for a reason. The reason wasn't really clear to me at the time. We have two great bands now. At the time I was upset about it and I think a lot of had to do with the fact my judgment was being clouded by alcohol. We all drank but one thing is for sure: We've always been friends. I think that's what made it so difficult because when you really like somebody and you're forced to part ways with them, in some ways you're kinda either justified doing it or you try and cover up why you got the boot. I think that's kinda what happened over the years. Now there's no animosity and there's no explanation necessary. We're friends and all that stuff is behind us. There are several older songs that have been resurrected on the "TH1RT3EN" album. Is the album a throwback to the "Countdown To Extinction" and "Rust In Peace"-era music?

Mustaine: To a degree, yeah. When it's the same talent, it's gonna be there to a degree, but I think there's a freshness to it. With David Ellefson coming back, to a degree the bass is the same, but it's not. Dave has been woodshedding the eight years we've been apart because I know how good a guy is — I can listen to somebody and in just a couple minutes determine if they're a hack or not. I know where Dave was at with his playing when he and I parted ways. He was really good and he was in that pretty untouchable league. And then he came back and he played again and I heard what he was doin' and it was like, "Wow, man, he's gotten so much better in so many areas." He's just playing much more mature, aggressive bass playing and I was excited. The songs sounded fresh and new again. When you play 'em in the studio they're awesome and then when you get out on the road you kind of get away from it. You kind of push and pull and you speed up here and you kinda slow down there and you forget a part here and you overplay there. When he came back we were playing the songs and I was like, "Damn, these things sound just like the studio." It was amazing. Did you resurrect these songs because they still resonated with you?

Mustaine: To a degree, but probably not. I think the reason I wanted them on there was I didn't know if I was gonna be able to play anymore and I had the songs that I had left. It required me writing new material and I didn't know if physically I was gonna be able to do that. I don't want to be a bleeding heart or anybody feel sorry for me. I see people like Kerry from SLAYER who has been playing as long and hard as I have and he doesn't have the problems I have because he was smart enough to stretch out and exercise before he went onstage. I wish I would have thought about that, but that's what sets people apart is their difference and uniqueness. I didn't think I was gonna be playing too much longer and I used the songs I knew I had. And the rest of the stuff when we say we wrote it on the spot, yeah, we did because we didn't have any songs left.

Read the entire interview at

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