Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT), Tom Araya (SLAYER), Kerry King (SLAYER) and Dave Mustaine (MEGADETH) were interviewed for the February 2010 issue of Decibel magazine (order online), which features a cover story on the upcoming "American Carnage" tour. The Mustaine section of the story follows in its entirety below (reproduced with the kind permission of Decibel magazine).
Story by Adem Tepedelen
Although we don't necessarily agree with "The Office"'s Michael Scott's opinion that Wikipedia is "the best thing ever" because "anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information," we do love the fact that there is an entire page — complete with detailed references — dedicated to "Dave Mustaine feuds and rivalries." (In contrast, [SLAYER guitarist] Kerry King only has a sub-section of his Wikipedia page dedicated to feuds, while [TESTAMENT's] Chuck Billy and [SLAYER's] Tom Araya have nothing regarding any feuds at all on theirs.) Clearly fussin' and a-feudin' has, over the years been a part of the Mustaine M.O., something that becomes very apparent after just a brief conversation with the MEGADETH founder.
Unlike King — at least on this occasion — Mustaine is a loose cannon. Allotted a mere 15 minutes to interview him for this cover story, he at least has the courtesy to fill up every one of those 15 minutes with alternatingly bizarre, titillating and random anecdotes and pronouncements. A question regarding his recollections of the first European Clash of the Titans tour in 1990 ultimately results — after a rather circuitous route in which he completely fails to address the actual question, even slightly — in this unprovoked revelation. "There was talk about the Big Four [tour] happening, but it's not happening," says Mustaine. "I'm here to tell you right now. You're getting a scoop right now. The offer that we got just wasn't what we felt was fair."
So, unless Mustaine changes his mind or is offered more coin, we might have to be satisfied with the "Big Two" (plus TESTAMENT!) for now. But if Mustaine and King are making inroads to patching things up, who knows what the future holds for the rest of the people on his Wiki feud page (hugs for Fred Durst? a bouquet of flowers for Riki Rachtman?). For his part, the MEGADETH frontman seems ready to mend fences. "There was a period where we didn't get along," he admits. "[But] I was in my dressing room in Japan last month and [SLAYER drummer] Dave Lombardo comes in and said some really great stuff to me. Then I get off stage and Kerry is in there. It's like, wow, this is really, really cool. I took [King] aside and said, 'What did I do that pissed you off so bad? Because I'd really like to go back to when we were friends.'"
He is also apparently contrite for past transgressions. Sort of. "Whatever I said [in the past], whatever I did was regrettable. Probably a portion of it was not necessary. Probably a portion of it was necessary for me, but that doesn't mean that it was necessary for anybody else. We all say stuff… that's 19 years ago."
And, given the opportunity to prove his loyalty with, uh, brute force, Mustaine is willing to go there, too. "If Kerry and I were ever anywhere and somebody was trying to hurt him," he says, "I would stand by his side. I may not be his friend, but I consider him a friend of mine. For whatever has been said or done, I have been forgiven for a lot of terrible stuff, so how can I not forgive anybody? I've apologized to those guys, and I think we're on really good standing right now."
Thus, at least one part of Mustaine's Wikipedia feud page can be updated — by anyone in the world, apparently — to reflect his newfound camaraderie with SLAYER (just be sure to use this article as your reference, so it's "official"). But you just never know what can happen over the course of a 15-minute chat with the man. Again, pertinent to nothing I asked, he offers an opinion regarding a "Big Five," instead of Big Four, that leaves tourmates TESTAMENT entirely out of the picture. "For me, I always kind of thought it was like the Big Five," he postulates. "If you think about it, you've got MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, SLAYER and my old band. But what about EXODUS? They were there, too, man. Let's not forget. But I think just because of instability and stuff that goes on with bands, that they weren't included. The funny thing is that if anyone was unstable over those years, it was me." [Laughs]
The scads of MEGADETH members who have come and gone over the years can no doubt attest to some of that instability. Mustaine nonetheless managed to keep all but Canadian guitarist Glen Drover (who was replaced by ex-JAG PANZER guitarist Chris Broderick) around from 2007's "United Abominations" for his latest, "Endgame", a definite return to faster, thrashier material. It's a release that, in many ways, mirrors what SLAYER achieved on "World Painted Blood", a contemporary-sounding album that still acknowledges past achievements. It's one obvious reason why the pairing of the two bands in 2010 makes sense.
And not surprisingly, Mustaine has his own unique take on why it works so well. "It's like two mighty stags on opposite sides of a huge valley, and we know that we're wired to fight each other, but — you know what — we're coexisting. We're looking down there and seeing everything that's beneath us and in front of us and saying, 'This is great; there's enough for both of us. There's plenty to go around.' If we really celebrate, not only can we partake of all of this majesty down there; we can also exponentially continue to make it travel around the world."
We're not entirely sure what the "huge valley" and "majesty down there" is all about, but Mustaine is definitely feeling on top of the world, as it were ("My career right now is just exploding," he tells us), and maybe that's just what things look like from his perspective. Part of that elevated status, so to speak, is a feeling that he's ready for the responsibility of showing the next generation of bands how it's done. Maybe take them under his wing and share his wisdom. "I think the thing that's most rewarding right now is being put in that position," he says. "Being able to actually represent. I feel that I have the tools right now to assume that position and be a proud elder statesman. I've been around the block."
And perhaps his first lesson will include tips on how to avoid having a Wikipedia page dedicated to your feuds and rivalries. Or maybe he can just offer his rather lengthy experience creating feuds and rivalries as a cautionary tale. What not to do. Because, as we have established, somewhere down the line, there's always a price to be paid.
The February 2010 issue of Decibel magazine is on newsstands now.
To purchase a copy online, go to this location.