Friday, April 20, 2007
Megadeth - Dave Mustaine Interview
Megadeth's new release titled UNITED ABOMINATIONS, due in stores May 15, picks up where the SYSTEM HAS FAILED and sees the band return to the classic sound that helped cement their place in the metal community. The 11 new tracks are a spit of venom combining the elements of thrash, melody, lots of guitar solos, gnarly vocals, and Dave Mustaine's thought invoking political lyrics. On a break from the Heaven and Hell tour, Dave Mustaine checked in to talk about the new release.
Mydenrocks - I love the intensity on the new cd. Did that intensity come out natural or did you gear your writing to high intensity material?
Dave Mustaine - I didn't go into making this record with any pre-conceived notions. I was just so dis-illusioned with the record business after what happened with Capitol and Sanctuary Records. After going over to Sanctuary, I thought "Hey..this is different. These guys undersand. They're metal people. My God they manage Iron Maiden." It ended up being more of the same difficulties I had with Capitol. Both labels had difficulties with the songs and issues with the songs that really couldn't be solved. Going over to Roadrunner and when we went in to do this record...so far it's been...there's been some ups and downs. I think alot of that translated into the intensity on the record. There was stuff that was going on in my personal life that even transcended the difficulties from working with a corporation. When you're trying to do something like create art, the nature of art if very un-corporate. Do you follow me? I'm not necessarily anti-corporate. When you're trying to pitch a song to a corporate entity, it's kind of like trying to explain an orgasm to a virgin. Both sides have different points of view. You can't really get an artist to think like a corporation, but it's automatically thought that you will think like a corporation by default. So some of the energy on the record is there because there was seemingly the same syndrome that has been the same with me the whole time I've been a recording artist. There's also a refreshment there that really excited me and fortunately for me all of the beuracratic stuff is out of the way. The art side is starting to show through. I'm really excited about what the future holds for me with the label and what my gift has been given to me about being able to play guitar and sing.
MR - Was there any comromising on the new songs or did you end up having 100 percent artistic freedom?
DM - Put it this way....there were decisions that I had made in the beginning stages that weren't resonating with me. When I had talked with the A&R person at the label, who was assigned to me, we were in agreement about alot of things that deep down I just didn't feel right about. I kept perservering though. We knew the songs had to be lyrically re-approached to properly convey what I was trying to say - if you confront an enemy head on, you're going to have a battle. But, sometimes, you have to come sweeping in from the flank in order to win. I had to use that same concept for several different points of view in order to get my ideas across lyrically. I would be doing a disservice to myself if I said I didn't have artistic freedom.
MR - Did the music and vocals come easy for you this time around? It seems like you've recaptured that classic Mustaine delivery.
DM - The music was super fun to do because I just figured "Ok Dave. You by far have alot more gas in the tank that you need to let people know about. So it's time to get it on!" I really wanted to challenge myself. There's going to be some songs that are going to be hard for me to play live and sing. Hopefully, no one will ever want to hear any of those songs live! (laughing) "Sleepwalker" was a little hard, in the beginning, to figure out because it was one of those polyrhythm kind of things over the down beats, upbeats, and vocals. With the cadence and the vocal lines, you want to growl a little bit and lure something out here and there. You know what I mean? That's just part of my style. I don't have a speach impediment. I just really get into character when I sing. Some people, when you try and do that, it comes really natural. Some people have to get it into their memory to pull it off. Some songs, I can do it one way and some songs I do it the latter way I described. As it turns out, "Sleepwalker" is a breeze now. But, 6 months later I'm still having trouble with "Washington Is Next!"
MR - The lyrics really point out things wrong with the world. Do you think your average person is going to let the lyrics sink in and develop their own opinions?
DM - I don't know if it's neccessarily wrong with the world. There's things that I think aren't just not neccessarily the best choice for us right now. I've always been politically active. There's alot of musicians who think it's ok to go out and bitch about the problem. But, I actually try to back it up and do something. I got involved with the Democratic National Convention in 1992 with MTV and Rock the Vote. Michael Stipe, Dwight Yokum, and myself - we were all working on the voter bill to get that passed into law. I felt that I did something for my country. For the most part, I think musicians bellyache about stuff and I think they need to either make it very clear how to do something about it or just shut up. I hope the lyrics stir something in the minds of the listener.
MR - Will we ever see a poitical tv show from you...kind of a Hannity/Colmes type show? Maybe Mustaine/Nugent? (laughing)
DM - You know what? I actually respect Ted. I was a big fan of his when I was starting guitar. He's a very intelligent person. He's a staunch Republican. Even though I have feelings on both sides of the political aisle, I just don't think I would want to say anything bad about or to him (laughing). He helped shape a generation when I was a kid. He's got some respect from me. Even if I disagreed with something that he said I would just be like "Ted! You're so right!" (laughing). I mean come on...he's Ted Nugent! I don't know if we would really have different views because alot of the stuff I've heard him say I agree with. I mean I love meat and potatoes too, but I'm not a hunter. Obviously, I've got a hunters instinct. But as far as hunting and stuff like that, I just don't think that I could eat anything that I've killed unless we were hunting a steak that was already cooked up nice and warm. (laughing). Then I would be right there with Ted! But, in reality you know what? I'm just not that guy who likes to get into arguments anymore. I'm not into getting into arguments with people because who wins? Even if I smoke them, which most people I do, what am I going to benefit from it? As much fun as show like that would be to do, it's never going to happen.
MR - Getting back to the new record...why did you decide to record this overseas?
DM - This is going to sound really corny. One of my favorite bands is Led Zeppelin. I don't really know how much longer I'm going to be able to play - let alone having people wanting to hear what I play. People fall out of favor real quickly in the music industry. People can be successful one day and then gone the next. I thought that, while I'm still able to afford this thanks to the fan support, I would like to be able to record in the countryside like Zeppelin did back in the day. When you hear people and they go record down in Trinidad or something like that, it's like (sarcastically) "Oh! I can see how inspired you're going to be! Oooohhh....look at my guitar and my sunburn!" You know what? I wanted to go to a place that was cold, hard, damp, and that had a very dark age feeling - like in mid evil times and that whole Tolkien kind of thing. I wanted to just get back to what the NWOBHM was 20 years ago. That's my style and it's one of the ingredients of my songwriting. I went to work and absorbed that atmosphere and it was electric. We used John Bonham's drum kit and we recorded in David Gilmour's house. It was a great place to get inspired.
MR - One of the tracks that surprised me is the remake of "A Tout Le Monde" with Christina Scabbia sharing vocal duties. Why did you decide to revisit this song?
DM - It actually surprised me too at how well it came out. We had 2 other girls audition, but in the end Christina was the perfect fit for my voice. It worked out really well I think. If you start with the original version and then go to the new version - listen to them back to back and song really climaxes with the new version. It's really hard to hear 2 songs back to back that have been remakes without finding some kind of discrepencies with them. The new version is a little faster, done a little heavier, the tone is definately better, the recording is better, the solo is a little longer, and the fact that there's so much more singing performance on it makes it a winner.
MR - Are you planning on breaking out alot of the new songs live once the record comes out?
DM - We don't even choose songs from a record to play live until after a record comes out. As it is right now we're playing "Washington Is Next!" and "Sleepwalker". We started playing those 2 songs live because before we went into the studio we wanted to do some work on them. We played them live a couple of times and they became popular, so they've stuck. Somebody had bootlegged "Washington Is Next!" and put it up on Youtube, so it got popular from that. "Sleepwalker" was a song we gave to our fanclub to give them a little tidbit of what was coming. We also played "Gears of War". But, "Gears of War" was something that was released intentionally as a demo for Microsoft's XBox Gears of War game. We had sponsorship from Microsoft and it was quite an honor to be working with them. We finished the song off because of that game. It didn't have lyrics for the game - it was just music. When Microsoft heard it, they loved and wanted it on the game. I thought it would be great. I said to our manager at the time "Tell them we'll write the lyrics and call it Gears of War". Microsoft said it was too late to get it in the game with lyrics, but we could do whatever we wanted to do with the song. I thought that was great of them and we finished off the song. It was really, really exciting being involved with an XBox game.
MR - What are you touring plans beyond the Heaven and Hell tour? Will you tour the states later in the year to really push the new release?
DM - We tentatively have dates booked for this summer over in Europe. July and August are off time unless one of those crazy things happend like "Hey! You want to do a song for the new James Bond movie?" If something crazy were to happen like that, we jump on it. Other than that though, we're just going to take some time off. We are looking at going back out in the states at some point. but, that's not confirmed yet because we've got the rest of the world to tour. So far all we've got on the books is Europe, but I would like to hit the South Pacific, South America, Africa, etc.
MR - What's your take on the current metal scene? I read your not too fond of some of the newer bands using loops, etc.
DM - There is use of pro tools on this record. I'm not going to say that on this record we didn't take advantage of the new techniques. Someone thought that I had recorded the new record on tape and I was like "Dude! I'm old, but not that old! Come on now..." I just think that it's really sad with bands that are capable of playing and they just get lazy. Especially, when it comes down to an epic part of a song and you can tell they could do it but they just don't do it. In certain circumstances, with anybody, if you have a part that's got a mistake and your stuff is packed up, you're doing the mix and notice a mistake - you have to correct the mistake. At that point, it's a given to do something where you drop in a note or a small loop to fix it. For the most part, I hear alot of these newer metal metal bands that heavily use looping and stuff like that. Thank God those bands are starting to go away. For me I think the beauty of metal is that it's a way of life. It's not something we've converted to - it's just that's who we are. The fans haven't changed that much except maybe their appearance. When I first started playing, you looked at all these guys who were wearing a denim vest and they would have all the names of all the bands they liked on there. That was pretty much enough to getting an MMPI (personality information) on them. It was easier to identify a metal fan back then.
MR - Don't take offense to this, but let's face it Megadeth had a downturn there for a few records and you lost some fans. However, after people get to hear UNITED ABOMINATIONS I think you will win those fans back and then some. You really nailed a homerun and this is the record Megadeth fans have been waiting on for along time.
DM - Thanks! I can respect what you're saying. I don't take offense to it at all. There was a decline after RISK and I know that. That's the nature of my career. There was another writer involved that was part of Megadeth and his manager was really trying to control the band. Ultimately, it cost him his partnership with his partner, cost him his relationship with Megadeth, and broke up a great lineup. Hopefully, the metal fans will like this. This is a true Megadeth record.
MR - Thanks Dave for checking in with us. Good luck with the new record and tour! I'll see you in Cleveland. Is there anything you want to add?
DM - Thank you for the interview. I have family from the state of Ohio and I don't think alot of people know that. My fathers side is from Lima and Dayton respectively. I love the state of Ohio. In a really kind of weird way, whenever I see someone and they say they're from Ohio, it gives me fond memories of my dad. With that in mind, I really enjoy playing Ohio because it feels great to be back there...almost like I'm sort of coming home. I'm looking forward to the Cleveland show and I thank all of the fans out there for all of their years of support. It's truly appreciated. Don't be a stranger. Look me up on May 11th.
Be sure to pick up UNITED ABOMINATIONS when it comes out on May 11 on Roadrunner Records. For more information log onto www.megadeth.com and www.roadrunnerrecords.com
Also, be sure to check out Megadeth's live dvd THAT ONE NIGHT LIVE IN BUENOS AIRES, which was release on March 6 via Image Entertainment.
If you're in the South Central Ohio area, Dave will be a feature in the May issue of Rhythm, Art, and Groove. For more information on that check out www.ragnews.com and come be our friend at www.myspace.com/ragnews
Chuck Myden - www.myspace.com/mydenrocks