MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine was interviewed on the May 24-26 edition of Full Metal Jackie's nationally syndicated radio show. You can now listen to the chat using the audio player below.
To see a full list of stations carrying the program and when it airs, go to FullMetalJackieRadio.com.
Full Metal Jackie: Success and longevity can build an entire machine around a band; it can become bigger than just music. Thus far into your career, what's the trick to MEGADETH still being a rewarding creative endeavor?
Mustaine: I think it's just being true to yourself and not settling on anything and not resting on your laurels, because there are a lot of guitar players that are better than I am, but when you get to the point where your thinking starts becoming like a bird's nest, you tend to miss the plot. I think that a lot of people that are really great, they make their music too complicated and people just can't get into it. I remember one time hearing this advice somebody had given me and said that, "A good song is beat, melody and ten simple words," and I was like, "God, I can't fit 10 simple words in a sentence let alone in a whole song," but the point of it is it's like beat, melody 10 simple words, don't make it to complicated. If you are going to make it complicated make it at least musical and I think there's a lot of bands out there — I'm not going to say MEGADETH was responsible for the prog rock starting, I think that happened more with GENESIS and stuff like that. As far as thinking man's metal and having a lot of twists and turns, we always liked doing that stuff, and I think if every song had that, it would become predictable and you would know what you're going to get. MEGADETH is a predictably unpredictable band and you never really know what you're going to hear with the songs. You heard more songs than just about anybody off this record so far when we were making them, and there were a lot of surprising tracks on there.
Full Metal Jackie: Let's talk about Gigantour for a moment, it's back and a really great lineup. Dave, how big is the satisfaction you get from turning people onto new or different bands with Gigantour, especially with the lineup for this year.
Mustaine: Well, the satisfaction's won when you turned somebody onto a band that sounds really cool. There's a completely different satisfaction when the band actually thanks you for it. I remember the guys in STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, we took them out when they had just changed their name from MIGHTY JOE YOUNG to STONE TEMPLE PILOTS and nobody knew who they were and nobody wanted to touch them because they thought that they were a spoof band because they sounded like a Seattle band. I heard them and I went, "No, these guys are the real deal. I love this band, I'm taking them out, I don't care what you say," and I took them out on the "Countdown To Extinction" tour and they went on to become legendary. Scott [Weiland] and Robert [DeLeo] both thanked me and said, "You gave us our break," and it was so rewarding to see somebody who has made it, to go back to the person who gave them their chance and thank them. It's very rare, it's called class.
Full Metal Jackie: Dave, you can't help being a different musician now, even a different person than 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even five years ago. What aspects of who Dave Mustaine is today made the biggest impact on the music we hear on "Super Collider"?
Mustaine: I think probably the surgery on my neck probably had the biggest effect, now [that] they got that bone out of my spinal chord. I'm not on medication anymore. It's funny when you listen to certain stuff, you hear it and you can tell, well, "That kind of sounds a little bit like he was drinking when he wrote that one because he was pretty damn mad with those lyrics." Or you listen to some lyrics, and it's, like, "Well, this must have been the acid phase. Not that I ever took acid. You look back at your career and if I remember Joe Elliott from DEF LEPPARD said he can't listen to his first record without being drunk, and it's, like, God, man, I can't believe he said that. I can't listen to any of their late records without being drunk, but I love that first record. Man, I can listen to all my records without being drunk.
Full Metal Jackie: Do you still get that excitement of sharing your new music with the world? You have it, you're in the studio, you're precious with it. How do you feel when people finally get a chance to hear it?
Mustaine: Well, in a very weird way, it's kind of like body shame — where you're looking around and you're checking other people out on the beach and it's like, "Okay, mirror mirror on the wall" kind of thing. You don't really know if your songs are going to hold up or "What were they listening to on their way to the studio before they heard this song? Were they listening to something better?" Your mind plays tricks on you. Sometimes you can be working on a song and you go past the point where the song is done to where it's well done and then it turns into char. I think that's when you learn as a musician when enough is enough.
Full Metal Jackie: Just like a sports team, a band is only as good as its players. What did you see from Shawn [Drover], Chris [Broderick] and David Ellefson during these latest sessions that really got you fired up?
Mustaine: Shawn, I think, was probably the most surprising performer on this record because he played better on this record than he's played since I've met him. I think a lot of that was because we were just challenging him everyday and we have this one outtake where Shawn's grumbling and he's going, "Dave's trying to kill me." [laughs] I wasn't trying to kill him, I swear to God. I walk in there and Ellefson is doing his bass parts and Shawn's got his hand on the side of the chair and he's wiggling his fingers and he goes, "I can't feel my hand." [laughs]
Full Metal Jackie: This record was like a workout for your guys.
Mustaine: He said that, he said it's a total workout. The funny thing is that people misinterpret stuff so pathetically, so badly. David [Ellefson] was working "Dancing In The Rain" and he goes, "This song reminds me of the first record because it sounds like 'Looking Down The Cross' a little bit," and so now everybody's saying, "When I hear the record, I disagree with David Ellefson, it doesn't sound like the first record," and it's, like, "Dude, you're misinterpreting what he said."
Full Metal Jackie: How do you feel from when MEGADETH started to today? Things have changed so much in terms of the digital age and people tweeting and posting. It used to be so different in terms of before a record comes out or even when you're out on tour. Do you look at it in a positive way how connected we are and how quickly information gets out or are you not a fan?
Mustaine: I am a little bit leery about how much people can find out about other people without a person wanting people to know about them. There's so much to be said about advancement in technology for the good of things but also there's a lot of bad that's happened with the advancement of technology — people have gotten lazy. I was going in the grocery store the other day and there are all these robot checkout stands, and it's, like, granted, it's good for the business owner to automate stuff like that, but where's the American workers? You want to know why the workforce is dwindling — it's because everything is becoming automated, no more tellers, there's ATMs. Pretty soon everything is going to be like that.