New Dystopian Symphonies

Megadeth

WITH A KILLER LIVESHOW IN LONDON, FRESH IN MY MIND, THE NEWS THAT MEGADETH WILL HEADLINE THE DANISH METALFESTIVAL COPENHELL THIS YEAR, A NEW GREAT ALBUM BEING RELEASED AND AS A FAN OF THE BAND FOR MANY YEARS, I HAD A TON OF QUESTIONS FORMING, THIS WEDNESDAY EVENING WHEN DAVE MUSTAINE, FOUNDER OF THE LEGENDARY THRASHBAND, CALLED TO GIVE ME AND METALIZED TWENTY MINUTES OF HIS VALUABLE TIME.

The album Dystopia had been played repeatedly the last couple of hours at my residence in Vesterbro, Copenhagen, leading up to the interview. It is a real return to power for Megadeth and the album feels energetic, alive and powerful, first and foremost. It seems that the band has been given an infusion of energy, and Mustaine agrees with me.

Thanks buddy. The band has been revitalized yes. I don’t know that you can attribute the energy to anything. Other than having the right people in the right room at the right time. I’ve been trying to do this for a while you know. It’s funny, you make a little bit of an adjustment with the people you play with and then, BAM, there goes a great record.

The small adjustments Dave is talking about is of course another line-up change in the endless stream of musicians that has come and gone in Megadeth. Out went Chris Broderick (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums) and in has come Kiko Loureiro (guitar – ex Angra) and Chris Adler (drums – Lamb Of God) and they seem to have given the two Daves, Ellefson and Mustaine, new energy. This writer and his brother flew to London in November to witness Meagdeth headline the impressive Wembley Arena with support from the aforementioned Lamb Of God along with Children Of Bodom and Sylosis. Here we witnessed a genuine demonstration of power by an ignited and extremely well playing Megadeth, who appeared more enthusiastic than seen in many many years. The band were all smiles and Mustaine once again agrees with me

Yeah we are very happy. The change in the line-up has brought a lot of happiness and nerve into the band. Something you yourself witnessed in London. We are really really close. It’s funny, I’ve been with people a lot longer than with the two new members of Megadeth, but the band has never been closer.

Mustaine is the mainman and songwriter in the band, but the two new members has contributed to the process of creating Dystopia.

Well, they got to play a 100 % of all their performances on there. We really took into consideration all their ideas, whether the final versions were their ideas or a combination of theirs and mine, or my idea. I think we’re all really proud about the record and Chris helped arrange a lot of stuff and Kiko collaborated on a couple of songs musically too.

The new drummer Chris Adler isn’t a permanent member of the band. In the beginning he was brought in to do drums on Dystopia, but later it was announced that he would appear on several live dates, when possible, as he also has his obligations with Lamb Of God, a band he still sees ad his main band. It is however entirely up to Chris himself, whether he wants to be a permanent member of Megadeth or not.

I would like him to be a permanent member but I don’t want it to be at the expense of Lamb Of God or any of the fans. I think that if it was possible, it would be great to clone the dude, because it would be great to have him in Megadeth.  But it’s up to him, and whether there is a future for him in both bands…. Well you saw the show in London.

Chris Adler was indeed a monster behind the kit, that Saturday night at Wembley Arena, where he pulled a double duty. First he pummeled the drums for Lamb Of God, who delivered an intense set, then Megadeth topped that with a monster show, again with Chris behind the kit. It was an incredible performance, and one Mustaine would like to see repeated in the future.

It was a great performance by him and I was kinda hoping that we would do more tours with Lamb Of God in the future, but I’m not exactly sure what their schedule’s like coming up. I know that he is on the road right now and that they are coming off the road, and that Chris is gonna be continuing on tour with us. So it’s also a little about the scheduling problem.

STILL ALIVE AND WELL

Dystopia is, as mentioned in the text above, an incredible album, and it feels like Megadeth has returned to the strength and greatness of it’s prime. Dave Mustaine agrees and he has a simple explanation of why this record stands out compared to their previous albums.

Well I think that the difference between this record and the previous ones are the way that things have changed for us. The improvements. We’ve been really fortunate to get a great team. I mean, if you have a great record label and a not so good management it doesn’t matter. It won’t work. So when you have them all together and everybody has a real good understanding of what the next Megadeth album needs, of what the next Megadeth campaign is all about, and somebody that understands metal enough so that they can speak to me, and you know, I would be able to say: I agree. Going into the studio was really a lot easier than the most records we’ve done lately. It’s because of the team behind me. The musicians, the record label, the management. Everybody.

News has been coming out about Megadeth and Dystopia for what feels like ages, and now the record is finally here. But the band entered the studio as early as April 2015, and the reason it took so long is that Mustaine doesn’t believe in keeping the musicians in the studio for 12 to 15 hours at a time.

I don’t work long ridiculous hours because I think it’s better to get really explosive performances out of people and when you’re in there for a really long time, you tend to get in a rut. There was even a time when it was just me and Chris, and Chris had something going on, and I said: ”Just go home”. Who does that? Who starts a record and then sends the musicians home because he’s got something going on at home? Only someone who completely believes in that musician. A producer that knows that he is gonna get what he wants out of that musician. I got what I wanted out of Chris.

COPENHELL AWAITS

When the Danish festival saw the light of day for the first time back in 2010, Megadeth was headlining and they were supposed to headline again in 2014, but had to cancel their show, due to the unfortunate fact that Dave Ellefsons brother passed away a few days before the show. This year they are returning to Copenhell, and although the setlist isn’t pegged down yet, Mustain know what the guests at the festival can expect.

Well you saw it in London. Hopefully by the time we get there in the summer, we have a couple of more songs that we can add off the new record. I don’t know in what capacity we can play, meaning how long we can play. We are there to support Black Sabbath and headlining versus special guest is two different things.

I tell Dave that I am pretty sure that Black Sabbath is headlining Saturday and Megadeth are headlining Friday.

I don’t know about that. That would be great if that was the case. And that is really what all setlists somes down to. How much time you have to go up on stage and play your music. And that’s why I don’t do a lot of talking on stage because if I talk 30 seconds between every single song, after ten songs I would have had time to do one more song. I’d rather play more music than talk. And let the music do the talking. Music can speak for itself.

As a writer for a Danish magazine, it feels natural to ask MegaDave if he remembers any special moments from the many times he has visited our country.

I got a lot of really good moments there. Meeting your Mercyful Fate and King Diamond and playing the festivals, clubs and arenas there. You know every experience we’ve had has been great. There hasn’t been any bad experiences, let’s put it that way. We have been to some countries and there has been some rough shows. But it has always been enjoyable being in Copenhagen.

A lot of bands who has existed for a number of years, has acquired rituals that they do before they go on stage, but Mustaine initially laughs at my question and plays a little joke on me.

I make sure that my fly is zipped up and that my shirt is buttoned straight. Ha ha ha. There isn’t any kind of sacrificial shit or anything like that. I try to make sure that I don’t drink too much before I go out on stage, I’ll have a glass of wine, but that’s it. I try to chill out. It’s still very exciting to go out and play for the audience every night. Big or small. Whether there are people there seeing us for the first time or people like yourself who have seen us many many times. Every show is new, every show is different. We try to make sure that the last couple of seconds before we go out on stage, we all pretty much get grounded. Privately, by ourselves, alone in the room. And as we go onto the stage everybody just shakes hands or hugs or high-fives or all that crazy crap. And then we go on stage and play. A very friendly band, a very loving band. Going on stage after all these years doesn’t make me nervous. That’s not the right word. I still get excited. I think nervousness is me being afraid of the outcome and I know exactly what the outcome is gonna be. It’s gonna be a great show no matter what.

Megadeth has just finished a tour where the visited most of the world. Mustaine and the band isn’t in their 20’s anymore. A fact he can feel.

Well, the last tour was kinda strange because there was a lot of mileage within, and I’d have to say that tours like that, while they’re enjoyable, they are hard on you. So I don’t see us doing a whole bunch of touring like that but as far as us being a band, I don’t see any end in sight. You know in 10-15 years we’re probably gonna think about stopping, but metal is great, as long as people like Lemmy  [EDIT: this was obiously before the passing of Motörheads frontman] can keep doing it, and some of these older people in rock like Keith Richards can go out and play, man we got decades ahead of us.

THE RIGHT SETLIST FOR THE RIGHT AUDIENCE

When I interviewd Tom Araya of Slayer for the previous issue of Metalized, ha talked long and hard about his own personal favorite Slayer songs, but Dave Mustaine isn’t playing that game with me.

No I don’t have any favorite Megadeth song. Not really. I guess that would be kinda like looking at your kids and saying which one is your favorite. Any given day it would change.

An answer to which songs he prefers to play live, is also hard to pull out of the frontman.

They all feel different. It all depends on the audience you’re playing. I remember playing to AC/DC’s audience and they were all just standing there. So you have to have the right setlist for the right audience and I don’t think we picked the right setlist for those shows. It depends on the crowd, who you’re playing with and where you’re at.

Megadeth and Mustaine has inspired countless muscians to pick up an instrument a play music, but Dave still gets inspired by other bands. Contemporary ones as well.

There’s tons of musicians that inspire me today. As far as who inspires me the most, I like the classic stuff. I like people who can really make a guitar wail and moan. I like the powerful drum and bass sound. Some of the classic bands. Now if you listen to modern production the sound’s obviously better than the older productions. But I think if you go back in time to when you first heard those records, before you had anything to compare it to, you really remember how powerful those classic records sounded. How powerful some of these classic songs were.

I round up the interview by thanking him for taking the time to talk with me and asks if he has anything to add.

I’m really looking forward to going back to Copenhagen, I’ve got a lot of friends there and if you have any other questions before we go over there, let’s get together and we’ll finish ‘em. See you soon, Copenhagen.

This interview was published in Metalized Magazine #101. Also check out Stampe's review of the new Dystopia album in our review section of the website.

Stampe - Metalized Magazine - Denmark