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Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Talks Creative Risks, ‘Super Collider’ Album + Band’s Future Plans

Megadeth Dave Mustaine
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was the guest on Full Metal Jackie’s radio show this past weekend. Mustaine spoke about taking creative risks, the band’s latest album, ‘Super Collider,’ and his thoughts on reviews and what lies ahead for Megadeth. If you missed Jackie’s show, here’s her full interview with Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine.

It’s Full Metal Jackie bringing you two full hours of metal each and every week. On the show once again, the one and only Dave Mustaine. How are you?

Doing great, thank you.

It’s great to see you again, you recently did ‘Jimmy Kimmel’ and there’s this [holiday sketch] all over the Web that’s totally hilarious. It looks like you guys had a good time.

We had a great time, we love Jimmy Kimmel and his brother Jonathan did a great job producing the clips. Jenny Lewis is a star, I think she’s a great talent. It was really cool to work with her. I think the band guys did pretty well. Playing live outside after we were done was really a treat, because we went back into, deep into the catalog. You know, when you play four songs you have more gas left in the tank. Some of those songs are a little more demanding vocally now and we haven’t been doing them, playing longer sets. We figured, if we’re playing four songs now we’re going to break it out. Those old songs, the singing is so high pitched.

Megadeth recently performed at the George Jones tribute show in Nashville, which seemed to be an unexpected highlight for people. What made being there so important to you?

It was paying respect to George Jones. It was honoring him right by doing the best performance we could, and the song choice was the highest form of flattery by honoring the man’s beliefs. When a man dies, you send him flowers. That’s all well and good, but if you pick up that guy’s torch and carry it or support their cause or do something, it shows a deeper gratitude for someone. While I wasn’t as familiar with George Jones as I was with Johnny Cash I do know that they asked Johnny Cash who his favorite singer was and he said George Jones. It was fun working with Jamey Johnson too. I only knew him from being with Miranda Lambert in the ‘White Lies’ video. My daughter is a country singer now and I have to, well I don’t have to but I listen to that stuff at home. It’s playing in the background, I’m like, them preachers got bears down there in Alabama.

Did you have a good time doing it?

I had a great time. I think that a lot of people, they didn’t expect that out of us. I’m a risk taker, always have been. I share a lot of my personal life and people don’t really like it. I’ve been an educator for so long, all of a sudden you don’t just be struck dumb because people don’t want to be educated anymore. Going there and representing heavy metal and doing a good job, I think we brought a lot of respect to our genre again. Just like I did in 1992 when I covered the Democratic National Convention. How quickly they forget.

I remember that very well, on MTV you were walking around and doing interviews. People were surprised, I don’t think they were expecting you to know as much as you did. That must have been fun.

I thought it was fun that with the whole day in Madison Square Garden talking to all these people and the only time I heard the F word was coming out of Phil Jackson’s mouth when he said ‘F— MTV.’ I think maybe he was ahead of the curve because it seems to be the national sentiment nowadays. It’s no longer a music channel. It was great for us for a long time, we had a great run with MTV with MTV News, ‘Peace Sells.’ It kind of sucked that they cut it off one note before we would have gotten paid for it. But, that’s corporate America for you.

Dave, how have you most matured most as a person? What correlation can you make between personal maturity and continued growth as a musician?

I think when you’re young and you don’t have anything to live for, you live your life a lot more reckless. As you start to grow up and — remember, I was a street kid — when you find someone and you fall in love, not everybody who is listening right now has had that luxury. We’ve fallen in lust, but not love. When you do that and you find that person that is your soulmate, all of a sudden there are two people and you have to work a little harder to keep your act together and you work a little harder to bring home the bacon to take care of things. Then when you have a few rug runners, I’ve got two — a lot of people said it would make me a wimp and that parenthood would change the sound of the band. It didn’t. The industry changed the sound of the band,. People don’t remember what was popular back in 1992 when we did ‘Countdown.’ Bush and Nirvana, Sponge stuff like that. What choices do you have?

Dave, there’s Altitudes and Attitudes, with Dave Ellefson and Frank Bello’s new band with Jeff from A Perfect Circle. What’s the healthiest thing about stepping outside the context of Megadeth? How does that best benefit Megadeth?

I don’t know anything about this, so it’s not really any of my business. Whenever I do anything it’s always Megadeth centric. The symphony thing we’re doing, we’re closing with a Megadeth track. I know where home is for me. In the past we have had alumni that have wanted to do other things, nah I don’t care if you do other stuff. I think the fans kind of do. They wonder, is everything OK? It’s OK with me, I haven’t heard it. I don’t know if it’s any good or not, I’m sure it’s good. Franky and Junior are good musicians, but I mean, it reminds me of that joke when you’re in the jungle and the drums stop, it’s very bad then they ask why is it bass solo? I don’t know man.

Funny you mention that, musicians in bands doing other bands. I have found myself in the past when I was a fan of a band, and a member of that band went and did a solo record. While I can appreciate somebody wanting to explore, I was always like, well I hope it doesn’t do that well.

We grow up with these bands that we love. When I discovered AC/DC, I thought it was great until everyone started listening to them. They were no longer my indie band from Australia. Granted, they’re Scottish. As bands became popular a lot of times the reason the public turns on them, because the bands turn on the public. They forget who pays the bills. When I got my Aston Martin I said, thank you to all of our fans. Granted, not everyone has one of those but I remember who bought that car for me.

I’ll never forget that. When you do grow up being homeless and having to live in a car, food stamps and welfare. You have a choice, you can continue sucking on —- or you can make a difference if you’re capable of working. If you’re not capable of working and you need that assistance, then it’s there. But that’s the proper use of it. I know that a lot of things we have right now, in this bus, the way we travel. Some bands don’t get to travel by bus. They travel by motorhome, like we did in the beginning. Talk about the Griswolds.

Do you remember that? Driving an RV?

Yeah we were in a RV and it broke down so we got a station wagon and Gar Samuelson was driving, Gar — God bless him who passed away. I have a lot of great memories of him. He was driving and he was turning around, and digging in the back seat while he’s driving for a drum pedal and he drove right off the side of the freeway and we took out one of those giants posts, the 4×4 posts. You hear this loud noise, and the sign hits the top of the station wagon and we finally stop about 10-15 feet from an aqueduct. We ended up driving with the headlights dangling off the front of the car, like one of those car crash derbys. We pull into Cleveland, thank God there was a guy there named John. He goes, you guys need a place to stay huh, we’re like yeah we do.

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth with us on the show talking about ‘Super Collider,’ the latest record. Of course it made a lot of year end best of lists for the end of 2013. Is a best of mention a better compliment than a favorable review?

I think with Megadeth music, you have to remember that the music industry now has a lot of new writers that are in there and they don’t know the history of the band. They listen to Megadeth and think, well these guys are older and I listened to the record and I don’t get it. Megadeth isn’t a record you can listen to and get everything in one listen. There’s a lot of moving parts. The lyrics are pretty provocative and thought out, you can’t just read through the lyrics and understand all the double entendres and all the hidden meanings. I consider myself being a New York Times best selling author and have a pretty good grasp of the king’s english. I think over my whole career, with over 200 songs I’ve said “baby” in three songs maybe.

I don’t think there’s a lot of records out there now you can get through without hearing one song that doesn’t have it. I think that looking back at everything we’ve done, it’s all a cumulative effort with ‘Super Collider,’ but that was also a turning point for us going back to a major label. The love that we feel from Universal and their staff, everyone with our agency and all the people involved with us right now, we’re just going to go back what we do best and not try and write songs for radio. Because, it’s like trying to have a baby. It either happens or it doesn’t. Its fun to try but a lot of people fail when they do that. For us, when we try to make songs, a lot of times they’re good. ‘Symphony of Destruction’ came out of nowhere, so does ‘Peace Sells.’ That’s what everyone says, write another ‘Peace Sells’ or write another ‘Symphony.’ You can’t just write that stuff, it’s inside of you and it has to come out when it’s ready.

I agree. When those bands have people over them and they say, listen to the radio and what hit songs sound like. It never comes out like it’s in their soul.

It is good to study what’s around, just so that you know the use of technique and what’s current, what people are listening to. But, again it goes back to if what you do is Megadeth centric. You can take all kinds of things that you learn from people. For example, there’s a band. Girl singer, the song – it’s the Budweiser commercial. Garbage. I remember in the middle of ‘Insomnia,’ we had used that little guitar sound because it reminded me of that alternative band. It was some band from deep in Europe or the UK that most people don’t even know. It’s great to listen to other stuff.

What can you tell us what we can expect from Megadeth in 2014?

Nothing, we’re going to tour outside of the nation. In August we’ll start writing the next record. We’ll probably have a new release in 2015, we’re going to take next year off. We’ve changed management, we’ve had a lot of stuff happen over this year that’s been really good for us. One of the things that happened that was great was Gigantour, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath and all of these things. But it’s also that we’ve been through the States three times in the last year. We just did the ‘Countdown to Extinction’ anniversary too. Our fans are loyal, but they’re not made of money and we know that. So we’ll go someplace else, focus on writing the new record. I’ve already have 68 riffs ready for the next record and for me it usually takes a lot of riffs to get where — it’s like making Sake. You have to go to the center of that grain of rice for the best stuff.

Awesome, you deserve the time off. Appreciate you being on the show.

This coming weekend, Full Metal Jackie will welcome on her show Children of Bodom frontman Alexi Laiho. Full Metal Jackie can be heard on radio stations around the country — for a full list of stations, go to fullmetaljackieradio.com.

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