Dave Mustaine: Megadeth are ‘Working on Wrapping Up’ Next Album
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. There was a lot to discuss as Megadeth have a wealth of plans for 2019, including festival cruise MegaCruise, a craft beer and metal fest dubbed Kegadeth, the band's 16th studio album and more. Mustaine also spoke about Megadeth's early adoption to new technology and the impact of drummer Dirk Verbeuren. Check out the chat below.
You've written some timeless songs. Over time what's changed about your understanding of your approach to songwriting?
My approach to songwriting has not changed that much. My understanding about what you can and can not write about nowadays — you have to be thoughtful about what you sing or even mention in an interview. If you say anything that has to do with politics or religion or sex or anything like that, you immediately put your entire fanbase up to lose because the nature of our civilization, not just in our country but all countries, people have been given a voice through social media and unfortunately not everyone knows how to use their voice properly. I didn’t use my voice very well at the beginning of my career. I said some stuff that wasn’t really cool and learned a lot from it but I love using our social media to help people and I think that is something you learn over time.
You've been ahead of the game in terms of technology for so long, in terms of how long you've had a website and now you guys just started doing something new with the Facebook Messenger bot.
Yeah he is cool. I don’t know how to explain the technology behind it all I know is that it is hella cool. We have a mascot, Vic [Rattlehead], and not a lot of metal bands have mascots because it is hard to have a mascot that is going to, one, stand the test of time and two, [it might] end up looking stupid.
We used our mascot, Vic Rattlehead, to be this thing for you listeners. We have a bot on our website that is messenger; he is like a guide to get you through the website to get you familiar with stuff. I haven’t used it to the Nth degree, it is still very new. The cool thing is as soon as we find something, you know me, I always want to give our fans the very very best I got. So if we find something wrong we immediately try to beef it up.
Dave, you've always been the primary songwriter for Megadeth. At what point in the development of a song does some sort of collaboration come into play and what do you enjoy about it once it does?
DM: What do I enjoy about collaboration? Well, I haven’t really been fortunate enough to have a lot of collaboration with other people, although I would really like to. My brother Slash was just saying recently in an interview when he and I discussed him joining Megadeth and leaving Guns N' Roses and we were jamming together a lot [in the '80s]. He is an incredible guitar player, so for me...God I don’t even know how I got on that subject. I just was checking out my Twitter feed and saw that Slash was telling a story about wanting to jam with me.
Songwriting has changed so much, going back to your previous question. You have got young guitar players now that — honestly, you get a lot of people who play guitar that don't live to play guitar. We have this technology now that you can take a picture of me and make me look like I am 600 years old, so why couldn’t you have someone who couldn’t play guitar very well put something into an app and be a maestro? [laughs]
Drummers are often called "the engine" of a band, and dictate a lot about a song through their playing. What impact is Dirk's playing having on the way of the new music and how it's developing?
Dirk's playing is very energetic and it's very developed. He's a really humble guy too, for as good as he plays - you would think he would have an attitude like some of the notorious drummers in the music industry. When you're really great at your craft, it kind of gives you a license to be a little cocky but I think sometimes people go a little too far. I know I did it at some point, but learned how to reel it back in over time. If you really appreciate your fans - you won't just be rude to them and Dirk is just so humble. One of the things I'm just so excited about was doing a blast beat with him because - you know, [Chris] Adler was such a step up for us playing wise.
We hadn't had someone playing with us that had energized the band for a really long time. Not taking anything away from Shawn [Drover], Shaun was a nice guy and a good player but Chris had something there. And then Chris had told us, I want to be in Lamb of God and I want to be in Megadeth and I said, "Well you can't do that. It's just too busy. You can't be in two places at once and Lamb of God plays a lot, and so do we." So, he said look I would love to be with you guys - it's not going to work out. Here's the guy I think you should have in the band. We have Dirk and its been just - mothers milk. It's been so wonderful.
Dave, there are plans for a Megadeth festival event to coincide with the next album. What do you have to take into consideration when planning something other than typical tour dates?
Some of the things we take into consideration when we do dates, is obviously what's the next show? Where do you go from here? Another question is - who are you playing with and what is that show going to mean? If it's a festival, which is what the question was, the festivals sometimes have a life of their own. There's a vibe or a feeling, something about a festival that if it's a good one like Hellfest in France, it's remarkable. There's a vibe - that festival is bigger than any band that plays on it. And that's what anyone who is a festival promoter wants is to have a festival to be bigger than any band on it because then that means it'll go on forever.
We have thought about when we do festivals, how do you bring the audience in to have fun? Well, we don't really want anybody up onstage, but we would love to be able to have something backstage. You know, something where you can have people associate with the band, maybe play some songs, get some direct information from us, some feedback on their playing and stuff. And, we thought, you know, what would be a great way to do that? Well, a cruise would be a great way and we're doing the first ever West Coast cruise on next year with Norwegian [Cruise Line].
We're going to have... it's going to start in Long Beach and we're gonna cruise out to Catalina and then go down to Mexico and turn around, head back up to San Diego and I think we're going to stop in San Diego. We may return up to Long Beach, but I think San Diego's gonna be where the cruise is gonna end for us.
We've got a lot of really great bands that we've planned. One I'm super excited about is Armored Saint. I've always been a fan of Armored Saint. I like the Sandoval brothers and love Joey [Vera] so, I think it's going to be fun and that's what we wanted. We wanted something that you know, people would stop thinking about, how do we have the most successful this and how do we make the most money that. Well, how about you treat the fans with dignity and respect and you give them their money's worth, you know?
The next Megadeth album will be the band's 16th album. If someone were to binge listen to all the albums in order, when will they fully understand the band?
I think that when the fans get to about Countdown [to Extinction] they start to see because it wasn't until a little bit after Countdown where I started to get really exploitative with my songwriting melody. You know, I learned a lot about songwriting and a lot about the hook — setting the hook, how to pick the low hanging fruit with clever lines, "what do you mean I'm not kind, I'm just not your kind" and stuff like that. And, gosh, you know I'm looking at where we're at right now with... the very first record was so aggressive and you know what that was? It was revenge and anger.
When I started to get over the anger, and started to have my own success, and started to have people say, "Wow you know what, this guy can actually play guitar." Because, you know with Lars [Ulrich] and James [Hetfield] and those guys going out of their way to say that I was temporary... I wasn't temporary. I wouldn't have been temporary if I hadn't slugged James and them saying I'm not a good guitar player. Anybody with two ears knows that I'm not bad, I'm a good guitar player. Now, I'm not the best guitar player in the world and I never said that so, at that point was when I started to not worry about what other people said and just start writing and I believe during Countdown was when I started to have some...started to feel some self-esteem because your self-esteem and ego are two totally different things. Most musicians have raging egos and no self-esteem at all.
Dave, tell us about a timeline of what we can expect going through the end of the year and into next year of what you have in the works?
So, If I went chronologically down the list of everything that's going on right now, we're working on wrapping up the music, I'm working on a new band that Thrashville manages called Down to Ride. We're working on their music and they're still trying to decide if that's the name they're going to use or not and we are working on the Megacruise, we're working on Kegadeth, which is a metal music and craft beer festival that we created based around the new beer.
Then next year we hope to have a record out. This October 27th we'll be headlining Jakarta - were taking the holidays off and we'll be working on the new record next year. We start around March, I'm going to be doing a very special experience where I'm going to be going out for a month and playing some concerts.
So after Kegadeth we have something also next year, of course, we have the experience starting in March - and after that we do a month worth of kegadeth and then we've got some dates in the Summer, and then in the Fall again we're going to do a camping plan with the Kegadeth festival and then more Kegadeth dates.
Then obviously a Megadeth tour to support record number 16. And I use my social media stuff to help explain what's going on with us and we're really super excited about this next year with everything that is going on with the new record. I gotta tell you, Jackie, I feel so confident about the band - the lineup - the way the guys are playing. I've known Junior [aka bassist Dave Ellefson] forever and he is playing better than he ever has.
Then listening to Kiko — Kiko is remarkable. His music playing is so emotional. I'm excited, I can't wait and I hope that you come into the studio and visit us. It'd be great to have maybe some way to bring listeners in to listen to some recordings live.
Be on the look out for new updates from Megadeth regarding all of their 2019 plans. Follow the band on Facebook to make sure you don't miss anything and grab their latest album, 'Dystopia,' here. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend show here.
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