Metal Insider recently got a chance to talk to one of metal’s reigning personalities, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. Yesterday we posted part of our chat with the always outspoken Mustaine bemusedly questioning humanity after losing his wallet. Today he opens up about the “Big 4 Tour” rumors, how Endgame is going to bring back heavy metal, how his body of work ties in with world events, and his sprituality. among other things.
So I’m going to start with the elephant in the room that I’m sure you’re getting asked at every single interview lately. The Big Four Tour with Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax, any truth to that rumor?
You know, there’s no way to answer any questions about Metallica for me. If I answer them politely, I get reamed. If I answer them funny, I get reamed. If I say something like when I said I believed my record was better than theirs, and even in that comment I said that they’ve got plenty of records that are better than anything that I’ve done, except this one… And for once it’s nice to be on the opposite side. That was taken apart. “I think my record’s better than theirs.” Well you didn’t finish the sentence you twat. I have no desire to answer any questions, at all, about Metallica. If something comes up, you’ll know, but as far as I’m concerned I can’t say anything about those guys and I won’t.
Fair enough, I’m definitely not trying to draw you into controversy.
It’s not you my friend, it’s the readers and the listeners. And then it’s the tabloid rag sensationalism writers that don’t really deserve a place in the metal community because one of the things that was really great about the metal community is we weren’t these back-biting bottom feeders that we’ve become right now. In the beginning it was all about a sense of community. The writers and the bands were friends of one another. They had the right and they had the respect of the bands even to give their opinion about the music, while you might not have gotten a great review, it wasn’t one of these reviews where you walk away feeling like you’re subhuman, and ‘god, what a dumbass I am to have written such a stupid record.’ When you walk away feeling like that and you’re the artist and they’re not, it just makes you feel kind of dirty. There’s some magazines that I can’t even read anymore. Magazines in the beginning that were the only credible source of heavy metal, and now they don’t even cover heavy metal, now it’s like alternative music and stuff. How can you cover alternative music if you were built on metal?
Endgame debuted in the top ten. How do you feel about that?
Its breaking down barriers. It’s great because I really believe this is going to launch the return of heavy metal in America. I don’t think we can do it ourselves. I’m not saying just Megadeth are going to relaunch heavy metal. I’ve said this is going to be the beginning of the return of heavy metal being really cool in America. You’re older than 20, you remember when girls had tube tops and there were no – products in there. Now if you find a girl that’s got real boobs that’s an anomaly. I remember when you used to say ‘Raquel Welch has fake titties, oh my god what are those? Fake titties, uh oh.’ Then you see someone that has real ones, and you’re like ‘I didn’t know they made those anymore.’
I remember in college radio having to literally tape together the sleeve of So Far, So Good, So What because it had been played so much. I get where you’re coming from.
So you understand what I’m saying. We’re right now on the verge of a comeback and usually, as sad as this sounds, it is around the world politics. When Peace Sells…But Whose Buying? came out, what was going on then? Well we were having a standoff with the Middle East. When Countdown to Extinction came out, Rust in Peace came out, what was going on with those records? Well Rust in Peace, we were having a standoff with Khadafi, and with Countdown, we were having more problems with Saddam Hussein. Several years later we have another problem, the world is at an absolute mess right now. And I think when people get to this point they know that they can always rely on heavy metal to understand what you’re feeling, and to give you that resolve to get up and to go continue the good fight. That may sound like a Deepak Chopra wearing studded underwear kind of monologue, but for me I really believe in what I do. I believe in the people that are in it and that’s why I’m a champion for the cause of heavy metal.
I told a co-worker that I was interviewing you, and he said “does he have any idea how “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due” holds up today stronger than it even has?” Do you think about that, or is it just another song from your body of work that happens to line up with current events?
I think it would be absolutely disrespectful to say that “Holy Wars” was just another song. It would be disrespectful to myself to even say that. It’s an anthem. It’s a song that speaks the truth of every man that is walking the face of the earth right now. We don’t know why we kill one another, but we do it. We go and we blindly follow our leaders and we don’t even know what we’re doing. I just did an interview with [syndicated radio host] Alex Jones the other day and it is so frightening what is going on in politics right now with Obama becoming the president of the UN and the president to the US. He is the single most powerful man in the world right now. You can hear the bells of the new world order ringing itself into power.
What do you think of the current regime?
He’s my president. I’m a patriot. All I’m talking about is events and stuff like this. As far as taking any credibility shots at our president, I would never do that. I think that looking back when they’re out of office you can look at an administration’s work and you can certainly have your opinion, but for me I really try to not be disrespectful to our incumbent president. It’s real easy to make fun of Bush because he was just such a clod and he couldn’t help it for himself. I wouldn’t have the song “Endgame” if it weren’t for him. And thank god for Lou Dobbs because if it wasn’t for him he would have never brought to the light this whole thing with NAFTA and with New World Order. George H. W. Bush said from the podium in the House of Representatives (that) he welcomed in the New World Order. You don’t say stuff like that. “new world” and “order” in a sentence being uttered by a president with no words or pauses in between, that’s scary. The other thing too is that when you look at one currency, well we have the euro that’s already established in Europe and they’re trying to develop the Amero right now, and once that’s done you’ve got world currencies narrowed down now to two huge territories that use a single currency for each one. That stuff is frightening. Now do I believe that Jesus was an alien? Do I believe in Hanger 18? Do I believe that Obama shook hands with a Martian? No, but do I believe that there’s higher life forms than us? It’s funny when you think about dudes that sit around and eat LSD and they just trip out on the world. When you really think about what that is, your mind is just being opened up to the splendor of the universe and things are so magnificently made. When you get to a point in your life where you get grateful, you really start to appreciate stuff. Sometimes you wonder how come people, when they get older get kind of mellow in their old age. Well I don’t know that it’s mellow, they kind of stop being a prick because they get grateful and some point. Some people learn really early on to be grateful. I’ve been grateful my entire career. In my personal life there’s been times where I’ve been an ingrate, but that’s part of learning and growing and I made a huge change in my life back in 2002. And you know it’s a daily walk every day.
No. it’s my faith. The funniest thing was I was just a gnarly drinker before I became Christian. Now I can drink. I can have two glasses of wine and go “ok, I don’t like this.” And drinking beer, I keep thinking about this one scene in Sex and the City, and the girl was talking to her girlfriend after she just had sex with an older guy and she said “he’s really great in bed,” and they showed the front of him and he’s like maybe a 50 year old guy and they show him walking away and they switch actors. They’ve got this old frumpy man walking away. She goes “he’s really good in bed, but he’s got a 70 year-old man’s ass.” And I don’t really think that anyone’s really gonna see me walking around naked, but I definitely get the message here. So I’ve been trying to take really good care of myself and not being a slave to a bottle anymore, that’s really cool for me. I can drink with my friends if I want, but I never used to be able to stop. Now I can and I tried every means imaginable before and it wasn’t until I started trying just to listen. Just listen for a voice other than my own was where things started to get clear for me. I totally hold all this record to God and to what he’s gifted me with my playing ability. Because I’m rated really high as a guitar player, I know that, but it’s not by my own doing.
You obviously have faith, it doesn’t seem like your records directly address that like other Christian artists. Is that intentional?
There was this movie where Steve Martin played a preacher, I can’t remember what it was, but you know it was back when he was relevant. He got busted for being a fake preacher and he goes back out there to talk to everybody because they were all let down. And he said “yea, I’m a gambler, but who better to talk to you about gambling? And you know I’m a drinker and I’m a womanizer, but who better to understand that stuff than me?” And I’m thinking that sounds very AA-ish, which goes back to the Bible anyways about a burden shared is a burden lessened, and that whole thing about doing a moral inventory is the same thing about confessing and you’re turning away from it. Which is what repent means, it’s to turn away. For me, I still say ‘fuck,’ it’s a terrible habit I have. And I still have some pretty deliciously evil thoughts every once in awhile, but they’re lesser and fewer and far between. I think I’m easier to get along with. This whole thing with Slayer wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have some profound things happen in my life that helped me to mature. We had our indifferences 19 years ago. Bottom line is they’re a great live band, it’s a good package. Megadeth is a great live band. Far be it for me to brag about myself, but the two of us, we’re two of the veterans of this, and we’re two of the best at it. I think when you get Megadeth and Slayer together, the other bands that are going to be playing with us; they’ve really got their work cut out for them.
Slayer obviously isn’t too keen on Christianity or religion in general, do you have any qualms about playing with a band like that?
I don’t really know where you’re getting that from because we hear conflicting stories. Tom is supposed to be a Christian or a Catholic I believe and I believe Dave Lombardo a Christian too, but its none of my business. I know Kerry’s a good guy deep down inside. People don’t really understand him. I remember him back from when he was really young and we were friends back then. Does me praying for Kerry make his butt itch at night? But if he knew what I was praying for he’d probably smile because I’m personally praying that we’ll be friends again. Praying that we’ll have a great tour and that it will be fun for them to be out with us because three of the guys from Megadeth weren’t even in the band when this happened. It’s not their fight. What I said was 19 years ago and it was regrettable, but it certainly wasn’t unprovoked. We were all just high octane at that time, Mike Muir was out on that tour too, and Muir wanted to fight me if you remember. I had to go up to him and say look dude if we’re going to fight, lets fight after the tour like gentleman. Fortunately for me he respected that because he was a big guy and he probably would have stamped me pretty good. I doubt that I would have lost. I don’t know that anybody doesn’t lose. When you get in a fight there’s never a winner. And the thing is I totally respect Mike, always have, but we had this indifference it was so bad. The problem was I said something and it was taken out of context again by a journalist.
When writing “Endgame,” as it was coming together did you know this was going to be one of the best records you’ve made in a really long time?
When we were making the record, I was staying pretty accessible through our website. We did chats and the live line which is a fascinating new website that we developed where we can keep these fans updated every day with audio blogs on what we’re doing. The concept isn’t new, but it certainly is a concept on steroids. I would call in and say what happened in the studio today. Just the enthusiasm that we had when we would leave the studio after a day of Chris doing his mind blowing solos. It’s one thing to hear those solos, it’s another thing to stand there and watch it. They have this story about a guy named Paganini who was a violinist who supposedly sold his soul to the devil and I believe that, because I had gotten into witchcraft and my soul belonged to the devil for quite some time. I had to fight to get that back it was really gnarly. I did the hexes, they worked. I watched the people I put the hexes on fall prey to the hex. Learning all these different things and going forward, you hear these stories about people being possessed and people going “I don’t know if I believe that.” You know what? You don’t have to believe it because I believe it, and I’m all I care about when it comes down to my beliefs. So anyway, Paganini was supposed to have given his soul to the devil. He had some weird disease in his hand where he didn’t have any joints between his fingers. There were no knuckles there, but he could do these mind-blowing solos on the violin. Well what does Chris play? Violin, piano, guitar, acoustic, and he plays like 13 hours a day. I actually had to hold him back in the studio because all he wanted to do was just play all day long. ‘Ok Chris, stop practicing its time to record.’ “Ok I’ll be right there. Let me just finish this practice.” Chris is mind-blowing. Like I said, I can’t say that enough. I’m not using that as a crutch word. I look at him and my brain goes ‘that doesn’t compute.’” I’m looking forward to seeing the new stuff live. He can do that stuff live that, brother, I swear to god. Marty used to be able to play like that. He would look at the audience and he would look at his guitar and the fans would go “how does he do that.” When Chris plays, he’ll look at the guitar and he’ll look at the audience and not look back at his guitar. He just keeps playing and that to me is confidence.