Israel National Radio's Ben Bresky, host of "The Beat" music program, conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine prior to the band's appearance at the third annual Metalist Festival on June 22 on Palmachim Beach near Tel Aviv, Israel. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
Israel National Radio: My first question is how did this all get set up? How did you end up coming on the Metalist Festival in Israel?
Dave Mustaine: "Well, the way things happen is we have an international agent and he was contacted by Yuri, the promoter here. Yuri contacted him and asked if we wanted to do this festival. I really wanted to play Israel for numerous reasons. My Mom was Jewish and I had been here a couple times, once working, once for personal reasons. I find the country to be fantastic, the people to be amazing. The turmoil that's going on in some of the hot spots in some of the country don't scare me. Although it is frightening to think that life and safety are at risk, I know that what America sees on TV about Israel is not reality. The rest of the country here is so fantastic and beautiful and the people are so loving and passionate."
Israel National Radio: You have a song on the new album called "Truth Be Told" in which you talk about Cain and Abel and Osama bin Laden. That could be considered Israel-oriented.
Dave Mustaine: "Well I've mentioned Israel in songs before, in 'Holy Wars'. Holy wars don't necessarily have to start in Israel. It can be anywhere. There are so many holy wars taking place in the world right now anyway. People are dying for a cause. It's so unbelievable. It's hard enough to live as it is right now with people dying from just aging and disease and everything that people would randomly kill innocent people for a cause. You know I read something in the Turkish newspaper today that they had sentenced some guy that was planning on blowing a plane up into the national monument of the person who had founded the Republic of Turkey. There was supposed to have been literality tens of thousands of people celebrating there and this guy was going to crash a plane there. I'm thinking, what makes people think like this? I mean, people, they'll live and die for their causes. But to me, my life is much more easier. I love playing music. I love entertaining people. My whole thing is about bringing joy to people's life. I've been an angry man for a long time and I still get angry, but that's not one of the things that brings me happiness. I'm not happy being angry. I know that's a dichotomy, but you know what I'm saying."
Israel National Radio: I was talking to some of the other groups here. All Israelis have to go to the army at age eighteen. And they were saying, before the army when they're in high school, they're into metal. They need that kind of music in the army. Then after they get out of the army they stop being metal.
Dave Mustaine: "Well one thing that I will say, I'm a very proud American, I love my country, and I believe that our nation in America could learn a lesson from your country here with mandatory military service. I think it instills character into the youth and although a lot of young people here probably don't really like having to serve, I think that the integrity and the character of the Israeli people is much more consistent then a lot of other countries because of that mandatory military service. I think that it's good for people. Now as far as getting out of the army and metal not being important anymore, I think that has to do with the fact that people change. But if you're a metal fan — and really, that's the first syllable of fanatic, that's what the word means — you'll be a fan whether you're in the army, whether you're out of the army, whether you're a scuba diver or whether you pick up dog poop for a living."
Israel National Radio: Did you have any kind of Jewish upbringing?
Dave Mustaine: "No. No, I didn't. Although my Mom was Jewish, I didn't have any Jewish upbringing. I know a little bit about it. I'm a Christian. I've learned a lot about the history of the country. When I came here for my vacation, I got to see a lot of the country that, you know, guys just don't see. I mean, for me to come through here and be able to go in and see some of the private stuff that you can only see with a military pass, was fantastic for me."
Israel National Radio: Are you familiar with any of the Christian-Jewish groups here in Israel?
Dave Mustaine: "No, and that's not really what I want to talk about. That's not for me. I don't want what my personal beliefs are to tell other people how to live their life or what to do. I try and set a really good example as a guitar player and a musician and as a songwriter and lyricist. I've had a really checkered past in my life. I enjoy being married and being a father now and my life has changed considerably. But as far as getting involved and being an activist for religion, no. I'm not interested in that."
Israel National Radio: Do you have a feel for metal in Israel?
Dave Mustaine: "No. I haven't spent a lot of time here. The last time I came here was as a full-on tourist so I didn't get a chance to make any kind of cultural discoveries other then sitting on the beach and sucking in the surrounding atmosphere. As far as knowing anything about Israeli bands, I'm sure there's some fantastic Israeli bands, as there are bands from any country. Right now the music industry is really driven and it has very little to do with music anymore. It's about business. So if a band's going to make it nowadays in the music business, they need to be very thoughtful about what they do they need to concentrate on songwriting. Some of the bands we've played with get up on stage and it's just about outrageous behavior and not about musicianship. That stuff doesn't fly. That will maybe be cool for a couple of shows but it gets boring."
For more information on "The Beat" with Ben Bresky, click here.