RUSHONROCK editor Simon Rushworth caught up with founding member and Big Four legend Dave Mustaine to talk character, controversy and Alzheimer’s.
Look out for a review of the band’s Newcastle show here soon – plus a follow-up interview with Mr Mustaine. And from Sunday check out the New Music reviews section for our verdict on Super Collider.
rushonrock: You’ve said this is the most enjoyable time to be in Megadeth – why?
Dave Mustaine: I guess when you something long enough you get really good at it or at least you get really good at fooling the public! There’s been enough stuff that’s gone on to show that Megadeth really does have a fan base and so I enjoy that side of it. It’s kind of how it was with Led Zeppelin – when I heard that song Hot Dog I thought that’s not my favourite song but I’m still a fan. To know that our fans will forgive us the odd wrong turn and still be there feels good. I suppose I’ve come to realise that we’ve really made a difference over the years and affected a lot of people.
rushonrock: Do you only focus on the positives now or is it hard to ignore the negative stuff?
DM: When you’re out at a club and you hear your song played and you hear someone go ‘wow’. That feels good. It’s like if someone tells you you’re really good in bed. It’s like ‘really? I’m glad you think so’. It’s the best feeling in the world. But there’s so much stuff that people say. Stuff can go around the world in a second these days. A good review or a bad review can go global in an instant.
rushonrock: Does a more mellow outlook come with experience?
DM: A lot of things happen. A lot of people don’t think they’ll have as much fun when they get older. But I’m glad I’m getting older. I’m still relevant and I have a lot of really great friends. Also a lot of our fans aren’t the same age group as me so that gives me fresh impetus and inspiration. We’ve also stayed completely true to our roots and that makes me happy.
rushonrock: Do you regret some of your past outbursts?
DM: Sometimes when you make comments they don’t sit well with certain people. But it’s my character that matters. Everybody who ever meets me says my reputation precedes me and how they thought this or that about me. But I prove them wrong. And that makes me happy. But I suppose the one thing that makes me really happy right now – the coolest thing about being in Megadeth – is that I’ve got Dave Ellefson and Shawn Drover alongside me and they’re like family these days. Shawn’s been in the band for nearly a decade now…that’s some stint for a Megadeth drummer!
rushonrock: When it wasn’t so much fun being a member of Megadeth did you ever think ‘that’s it’ – surely being in a band is all about having fun…
DM: I don’t want to sound like a bleeding heart. I’m blessed to be in a band and to be in a position where I can make people happy. That’s the coolest thing in the world. But it takes a lot of work being a public figure. You have to be careful about what you say. There was a time when I’d just had neck surgery and I was on the kind of medication that makes you bold. You only think about what you said after you’ve said it. A lot of people think I hate the current president of the United States because of a comment I made. But I don’t hate him – I just don’t agree with him on some points. It’s no big deal. There will be another president after he’s gone and I’ll still be here making music.
rushonrock: Do you worry that a happier Dave Mustaine could dilute the power of Megadeth’s music?
DM: Don’t get me wrong – I’m not happy. I’m just happier! I still get pissed off about stuff. There’s still stuff that makes me mad. During the recording of the last record and the recording of Thirteen I watched a lot of news. I can’t really watch so-called television very much these days. ‘Normal’ TV shows really insult my intelligence. Watching the news all the time is bleak so it clearly affects your outlook and obviously inspires the songwriting process.
rushonrock: Super Collider is packed full of future classics – will they make it onto the current setlist?
DM: We’re really looking forward to going out on the road with the new stuff because that’s who we are. We’ve got a bunch of new songs that we feel are more than good enough to play live alongside the other material. For me playing the new material will be my favourite part of the show. We’re including four songs from Super Collider in the set – the first four, in sequence. I really wanted to do Built For War live – it’s really aggressive and is a good, old-school mosh song.
rushonrock: Forget To Remember is about the Alzheimer’s affecting a family member – was it an easy decision to include that song on the new album?
DM: It’s kind of a weird story. My mother-in-law got Alzheimer’s and at the same time I started writing The Blackest Crow but then I wrote Forget To Remember and it felt a little more upbeat. It’s a song that could be about how life-changing Alzheimer’s can be in terms of preventing the memories or it could be that the girl simply didn’t want to remember the dude. It goes both ways.
rushonrock: Didn’t the song then inspire you to look into Alzheimer’s in more detail?
DM: That’s the cool thing around the song. It got me thinking about the whole subject. They say that Alzheimer’s can’t be cured and in the US they have this great big pharmaceutical thing going on where you’re told what works and what doesn’t and there’s no room for discussion. It’s a case of ‘take this pill and your life will be better’. Then this guy says if you take that pill then you’re going to die and your balls will shrink and you’ll go bald and then you’ll grow a third eye! We were pretty discouraged by it all – all the contradictory advice and what we should and shouldn’t be doing for my mother-in-law. At that point we looked into natural healing and now she eats mushrooms. Several things can slow down Alzheimer’s and these mushrooms might be one of them. It has totally slowed down in my mother-in-law’s case. But it’s an epidemic. After her diagnosis there were a couple of things she said where we had pretty heated exchanges and both of us got really frustrated. I think that will resonate with a lot of families who experience the disease.
Check out the latest RUSHONROCK review of Megadeth here: http://bit.ly/134RDTv