Megadeth Frontman: ‘Pray’ for Full Big Four Tour in the US
Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was clearly hoping his band’s ninth Grammy nomination since 1990 — for the song ‘Sudden Death’ — would finally net him a guilded gramophone statuette. That honor, of course, went to Iron Maiden for ‘El Dorado.’
But Mustaine and his bandmates still have plenty to be excited about. Megadeth will take part in the first US Big Four concert April 24 in Indio, Calif., along the other three ’80s thrash titans — Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. There are also Sonisphere Big Four shows booked in July in Knebworth, England and Amneville, France.
In addition, Megadeth will play next summer’s Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest main stage, along with Disturbed, Godsmack, Machine Head, In Flames and Trivium. Noisecreep recently talked to the thrash legend about why fans should pray for a full Big Four US tour, the wisdom that comes with age, a past misunderstanding with In Flames and how he wound up working with former Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz.
The Sonisphere shows in Europe last year were so successful, you must have been thrilled when Metallica’s camp announced that there would be a Big Four show in Indio, Calif.
I was really excited. Knowing this information and having to sit on it, I thought I was going to explode. People kept asking me if it was gonna happen, and I knew it was, but I couldn’t tell anyone. We didn’t know that soon in advance, but we did know. So when people asked, I had to go into my trial lawyer double speak and say, “I don’t know.” And that was true.
I mean, I still don’t know, technically. A meteor might hit the planet tomorrow and then the show won’t take place. But we’ve got so many great opportunities right now with the Big Four dates, the Mayhem tour, the paperback of [my book] ‘Mustaine’ coming out [with] additional stories in it. There are tons of great things happening.
Why is there only one Big Four US show confirmed?
That, I don’t know. But I do know this — and it’s not me speaking on behalf of any of the Big Four collectively or individually — it started off as one date before, and then it ended up being several. So I would say for people that pray, do so. For people that don’t, sart.
It seems inevitable.
I think a lot of it was contingent on me, because [in the '80s and '90s] I was going through a lot of personal stuff that really put an unnecessary wall between all of us. A lot of it has been publicized, a lot of it wasn’t. Most of it was the much heralded and worn stories of drugs and alcoholism.
But there was also the other side — the black magic and witchcraft I had gotten into when I was a kid. Fortunately, I’m saved now so I don’t have to deal with that. But God, man, I was going through so much turmoil from what I had done. And it it’s just the consequences of poor choices.
People would go, “Man, he has the worst luck in the world.” No, not really. I had practiced black magic and was friends with Satan, so those things kind of happen when you make bad choices. And once I started looking at things differently — once [Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darryl Abbott] had been murdered, unfortunately — it helped me put things in perspective between all of us in the Big Four.
It’s fortunate that you have been able to put bad blood from the past behind you.
We had to, because back then before everyone started talking smack, we were kids. We were all friends, just little dudes. We were teenagers and fresh 20 year olds. And who would have thought we would have changed to the world, especially to the degree that we did?
Our bands individually and collectively have appeared in tons of movies and television shows with our music, posters and T-shirts. Even the names of the bands turning up in the movies is a real thrill. In ‘Wayne’s World,’ Dana Carvey asks Kim Basinger, “You got any Megadeth?” That shows you’ve become more than a band, you’ve become an institution.
And for us to be able to look back now and say, “Hey guys, can we just go back to being four bands that just love to play metal music and have fun? Let’s not let all the pressures of life and being successful and being way older now interfere with the thing that binds us all together, which is our love for metal music.”
It’s amazing that you all reached the levels you attained. Obviously, some of you have sold more records than others, but all of you have continued to sell albums, sell out concerts and move merch.
Sometimes I think there’s programming in our DNA to deliver the goods. There are certain people who love metal music just as much as me and play guitar just as good as I do or sing just as well as I do — which I don’t sing that good. But they can’t get that whole package together. If you aren’t cut from a certain type of fabric you won’t understand. And I think that’s the common thread between all of us.
When you look at the picture from the cover of the Big Four DVD and you see all of us onstage, that looks like a high school reunion, man. It looks like a bunch of kids on a sports team. We all look like we belong together, and that’s the beauty of this Big Four thing. And I’m hoping that transcends to whoever it is that’s doing air traffic control for this thing.
So, what’s it gonna take to get the Big Four to play the US by the summer of 2012?
Well, it is a big festival, and in order for us to do it right we’d have to play places like Dallas with the new Dallas stadium. Because of the enormity of this, we can’t just play regular arenas. When we were overseas, it was in excess of 70,000. The Polish show was 170,000. It was crazy. And you can’t really do that inside of a stadium.
Also, there are the Homeland Security issues nowadays, so they have to watch for traffic in and out of the venues. I think it would make sense to play a polo field. When we did this overseas, we were doing it in F1 racetracks, which were always really cool. We played the infamous Donnington racetrack, which is where Download is held. And we’ve done Download and Donnington several times. And that totally makes sense, because there’s so much space there.
Did you decide to do the Mayhem Fest when you found out there wouldn’t be a full Big Four US tour?
We were talking about doing Mayhem before the Big Four thing came around. We agreed to do Mayhem, and then the Big Four thing happened, and both parties worked together because of the obvious relationships between everybody and the mutual respect between all parties. They were able to work something out so we could do this. And, man, it’s gonna be a great year. That’s all I can say.
Do you have a relationship with any of the bands on the Mayhem bill?
Just the guys in Machine Head, and I know a couple of the guys from In Flames. But we didn’t have a great a great run [with In Flames] when we were out on Gigantour [with them], because of some staff people that told those people I said something which I never said. And, unfortunately, it kind of put a damper on things.
But as far as the band guys are concerned, I like those guys. And I’m looking forward to checking out Disturbed. I dig a lot of their stuff. And we played with Godsmack years ago in England, and I remember telling them, “You’re gonna be really big.” And now they are. They’re huge.
How did you wind up getting involved on Dan Spitz’s upcoming solo album?
Dan and I were friends, and then he left Anthrax and we remained friends. One day he played me this new record he had, and I went, “Oh my God, is this you?” And he went, “Yeah, why?” And I went, “Well, it’s great, but if it was me I would probably do this and that.” And he said, “Well, go ahead.” And I went, “What are you talking about?” And he said, “Well, you’re my best friend and I want us to do this together. Let’s make this our band together.” And I said, “Well Danny, I can’t be in this band right now. I’m in a band. And I can’t be touring right now. But I’ll be happy to help you out.”
So I spent three weeks on it with him, and if this thing comes out and does what I think it’s gonna do — because it’s that rad — I may have to figure out something different at that point, because it’s really good. It’s like a cross between real heavy, great Anthrax riffs with the darkness of Ministry and vocals that sound like a cross between me, Chris Cornell and Zack De La Roch from Rage Against the Machine. So, like I said, that’s another thing to look forward to. It’s going to be a really exciting year for me.
Watch Megadeth Perform ‘Symphony of Destruction’