MEGADETH's DAVE MUSTAINE: 'I Am 100 Percent Satisfied With TEEMU MÄNTYSAARI Right Now'

June 10, 2024

In a new interview with Sakis Fragos of Rock Hard Greece, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine was asked if he thinks the band's latest addition, guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari, will contribute to the songwriting process on the group's next studio album. Mustaine responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Yes, I do. I think he's gonna be a great addition to MEGADETH. He already has. We're playing more songs now than we were playing before. And that has nothing negative to say about any of the previous lineups. It just says that he knew more about the band and understands the metal backbone of so many of these songs more than some of the other people would understand it."

He continued: "When you're a metal guy, I think you understand metal compositions more than somebody who, say for example, knows progressive rock like [former MEGADETH guitarist] Chris Broderick does, or somebody who knows bossa nova, which [former MEGADETH guitarist] Kiko [Loureiro] does, or somebody that plays jazzy, like [former MEGADETH guitarist] Glen Drover would play, maybe Al Pitrelli. These guys all have their strengths."

Mustaine added: "I've often thought, although I've never said it, I do believe that when somebody gets singled out by me, that's pretty much it for them. They've been indoctrinated into the world of great guitar players, and from that moment on, their life will change."

Asked if he saw any signs that Kiko would leave MEGADETH permanently or if it came as a surprise to him, Dave said: "Well, it wasn't really a surprise, because it started to become clear that his family was gonna need him. And I'm a dad too, so I saw it and I knew that his wife and babies all needed their daddy. And Kiko is a good husband, he's a good dad, and he needed to do what was right for him and for his family. And I applaud him for doing what he did. A lot of people would not have the guts to walk away from being a rock and roll star to take care of their kids. They would somehow sacrifice something, and it probably would not be their family."

Mustaine also once again seemingly ruled out the possibility of former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman, who made a couple of guest appearances with the band last year, rejoining MEGADETH at some point in the future.

"We played together for a couple of tracks, which was fun, and it was a very natural feeling," Mustaine said. "But I know that Marty, when we got together in Japan and we talked, Marty's changed a lot; he's a different man. And it'd be really fun to play with him every once in a while, see what's going on. But the problem is a lot of fans will misunderstand us doing something with Marty and think that there's some hope of Marty joining MEGADETH again, and there's not, that there wouldn't be, because Marty is doing his own thing in Japan and I am 100 percent satisfied with Teemu right now, and I've already told the world that he's our new guitar player."

Mäntysaari stepped in last September for MEGADETH's longtime axeman Loureiro, who announced earlier that month that he would sit out the next leg of MEGADETH's "Crush The World" tour in order to stay home with his children back in Finland. It was later revealed that the 37-year-old Finnish musician would continue to play guitar for MEGADETH for the foreseeable future, with Loureiro seemingly having no plans to return.

Last month, Teemu told Italy's Poisoned Rock webzine about his addition to MEGADETH: "I definitely was aware of MEGADETH for a very long time. They were one of the first bands that I got into when I discovered metal. I think, for most people, at least my generation or our generation, when they get into metal, it's usually the biggest bands, and MEGADETH, of course, being one of them."

Regarding his first show with MEGADETH, which took place on September 6, 2023 at Revel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mäntysaari said: "That was a very nice venue. We had a day there before, before the show, for production rehearsals, to rehearse on stage, and then on the next day we had the show. So that was nice and relaxed. I think we played through the whole setlist once before the show, the day before, and then played the show. And yeah, it felt very good from the beginning. And I felt like I was prepared. I was confident with my skills and confident with everything. The guys were so helpful and welcoming and, yeah, everything felt to kind of click and fall in the right place. So, it was really nice."

During the interview, which was conducted before MEGADETH's recently completed South American tour, Mäntysaari spoke about the band's plans for the coming months, including the possibility of new music. He said: "Right now we have been working on getting some new songs to the setlist, like old songs that the band hasn't played in a long time, or even some that they never played before. So that's been really exciting. I'm having some daily calls now lately with Dave Mustaine, going through the songs together. So that's really nice. And then once we get together on the tour, I think then we're gonna start talking about some riff ideas and putting some ideas together. So let's see what happens."

Earlier this year, Teemu told Guitar World magazine about his addition to MEGADETH: "I never thought something like this would happen to me. But at the same time, I've always felt like being prepared was important in case a big band like this did call me."

Mäntysaari was born in Tampere, Finland and began playing guitar at the age of 12. In 2004, he joined the band WINTERSUN. He has also been a member of SMACKBOUND since 2015.

"I have a specific skillset where I can learn fast, jump into new situations, and be comfortable," Mäntysaari told Guitar World. "I've always liked doing that. I love teaching, and I've been on many cover projects, so being detail-oriented is part of my skillset."

Regarding his preparation for the way he approached playing the MEGADETH material, Teemu said: "[We'd] look at the small details of how they groove, the moods, and the technical side. We talked a lot about what Dave [Mustaine] wants to project, picking directions, being very aware of down-picking, alternate picking, and, in many of the songs, being aware of both. We also talked about things like dampening, the flow of songs, creating contrast, hand positions, and trying to get things right fingering-wise, all of which I enjoy doing. There's a bit of detective work involved, and to get that information from the source in Dave was amazing."

This past February, Mustaine told Brazil's A Rádio Rock about how Teemu ended up landing the MEGADETH gig: "Kiko had recommended Teemu, and Teemu is an exceptional guitar player. Kiko was at the top of his game when this happened, so we were obviously disappointed, but it is what it is. If Kiko would have said, 'I don't know anybody, and you're on your own,' that would have been a lot harder. But Teemu is the right guy for MEGADETH. And Kiko knows that Teemu is the right guy for me. So, he actually did us a really big favor, and I love him and I wish him the best with everything that he does."

Kiko announced his decision to step back from MEGADETH in a social media post in November. He wrote in part: "Dear MEGADETH fans, I want to share with you a decision that hasn't been easy for me. In September, I had to step away from the U.S. leg of the tour for family reasons. Looking ahead, during 2024, we anticipate an even heavier touring schedule for MEGADETH. After thorough reflection and discussions with Dave Mustaine and MEGADETH's management, we have collectively agreed that it is the right move to extend my absence. I don't want to hinder any of the band's plans or the hard work of all the incredible people involved in the tour."

In early October, Mustaine told Shaggy of the 94.9 and 104.5 The Pick radio station in Idaho Falls, Idaho about Teemu's addition to MEGADETH: "People are losing their minds over how things are going right now 'cause we have a really good chemistry together."

In September, Mustaine was equally full of praise for Mäntysaari, telling Wes Styles in a separate interview: "He's really great. And I'm super excited with what Teemu has brought. And it's uncanny because he plays a lot like Marty. And it's really exciting. At certain times I just close my eyes during the set and I just hear these songs played, whether like Kiko in the past or Teemu now, it just sounds really magic because these guys have learned these songs and they're not just going out there and just banging their guitar around; they actually learned the solos from some of the virtuosos that I've played with over my career."

Loureiro officially joined MEGADETH in April 2015, about five months after Chris Broderick's exit from the group.

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