Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Almost Ready to Record Vocals on New Album
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The vocalist / guitarist discussed his latest book, Rust in Peace — The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece. At the time it was released, the album broke new ground for advanced guitar playing in thrash and Mustaine lamented the state of musicians today, who are highly-skilled but are lacking in songwriting finesse.
Elsewhere, he offered an update on Megadeth's new album, noting that he still has to record vocals and lay down his solos and that there's very little work left before that happens.
Read the full interview below.
We're here to talk about your new book, Rust In Peace — The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece, which is out now. The new book delineates the making of a seminal album. What album, Dave, would you personally like to read about with the same insight?
I would love to look at stuff with AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. Those are my two favorite bands for listening, music-wise — not No. 1 and No. 2, but in like the top five. [Also] UFO because part of the reason why we hired Mike Clink to do Rust In Peace was because he had produced UFO. I thought Michael Schenker’s tone was really exceptional that Mike Clink had gotten for him and it was one of those sounds that you just you hear it and you know who it is.
Oral histories always tell a more thorough story. What will readers find out about Rust In Peace, maybe for the first time from the perspective of multiple participants?
It's just such a wide-open question. So many people have so many different depths that they've journeyed into the Megadeth family. They may have been with us from the very beginning and [others are] maybe not such an in-depth fan versus somebody who is new but completely saturated with Megadeth.
This book also cleared the air on a lot of stuff. I said something a while ago about how we had done the remasters for Rust In Peace, how we included the demos from Rust In Peace on here with Chris Poland's playing and his guitar solo work on it.
I had been with Chris in the studio doing what we always do. They get to do their solo, and if the solo isn't what I'm imagining, then we'll try something together. If it's not what I'm imagining, then I do it and I ask him, "Please do this."
Chris' stuff was fantastic and so much so that we ended up using it once Marty [Friedman] came into the band. That's why I wanted to put those demos on this record. When Chris' management had found out about that, they didn't see the wisdom in that and counter-intuitively directed Chris to sue me.
So, we took those demos from back then off of the release and nobody really got to see how great those performances were by Chris and how much Chris really influenced Marty.
My point is, Marty said at the beginning of the book, "Dave had written the stuff," and then if he gets to the end of the book, Marty says he wrote it and I went, "That's not how I remember it."
The book has a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humor with it. It shows how some of us who have our own truths with the way things happen. I learned some stuff too. There's some big things these guys have accomplished for themselves since they left Megadeth, but we all had a great time while it was working.
Your addiction and the start of your relationship with your wife are detailed in the new book. Why are those aspects of your life intrinsic to the end result of the Rust in Peace album?
I was very much like a ship without a rudder. I could go anywhere I wanted, I just didn't know how long it was going to take me to get there. A lot of my plans that I had made looked great on paper, but once you start trying to execute them, it wasn't quite so easy.
I needed to start getting some equilibrium in my life. Living in a van was not cool. Having some of the things that were going on with us in our lives, it just wasn't cool. It was time to grow up and start cleaning up my life and cleaning up the way that I took care of myself and others — be a better bandleader and so on and so forth.
In telling the story about how Pam came into my life shows you how madly I fell in love with her. We had our ups and downs and we were separated a few times — [but I was] just trying to live a really decent life and we've always been able to reconcile stuff. When I was separated, she knows that I was seeing somebody else so it's no secret that it's been hard.
Fortunately for me she's got terrible taste in men so I'm the only person she's ever been married to [laughs].
At the time Rust in Peace was considered a groundbreaking album. Now with the benefit of time, hindsight and the insight of the new book, how do you hope people might regard the album today?
There are so many talented guitar players that are out in the music business with us now, but unfortunately, a lot of these players are homogenized. They're just like prefab houses — they get a laptop, they get a little application, they learn a couple of licks and then they cut and paste together a song and they think they're a great songwriter.
You never know — you could be the person that has that gift and all you need to do is get that said laptop with the said application so you can start putting your ideas down, but it's rare when that happens.
Megadeth, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due"
What I wanted to get out of Rust In Peace when we went into the studio in the very beginning was... I still kind of have that, "I don't care what you think about the record" [attitude] because I respect you too much to try and control your imagination.
When I listened to bands that had great music, but awful lyrics, I had to force my mind to tune out the words and I've been able to do that really well. There's been other bands that had really great guitar playing and maybe the songs are just cruddy. But, the more you look into how you want to portray your music and what you get out of it, that's one kind of path. The other thing is what you want to leave your fans with. If you've done your job, right, and you are an artist, there's really only two ways that you can look at a piece of art.
Some people say that it's subjective and that you can see it in a whole bunch of different ways. Well, you can’t. You see it from in front of the canvas or you see it from behind the canvas.
For us as musicians, we're behind the canvas. We’re the ones that are up for subjection, for people to critique us, to pick us apart and ask, "Is the singing any good?" You put your heart soul into a performance and someone makes fun of you. What happens if a guy is a mind-blowing singer? What would happen if Freddie Mercury wouldn't have tried to carry on and if he would have quit after the first person made fun of him? How about [Judas Priest's Rob] Halford?
How about anybody for that matter that that has been made fun of or not supported that had they have stopped? We’d have one less great musician. What about Django Reinhardt, the violinist? I think he was a mandolin player too and a guitarist. He had only two fingers to play guitar with on his left hand [due to an injury sustained in a fire]. I think he had use of this thumb also, but you know he only had those two fingers and that third digit. So I'm probably wrong but that's the story I've heard. It's just[ the question of] how hard do you want to make people enjoy music?
This is your second book. What might you have in mind for a third?
I don't know yet. This is one of those periods in my life where there's so much going on right now.
We've got a little bit of work [left as] we're wrapping up with the record before I get ready to start singing and doing my guitar solos. Kiko [Loureiro] is back in Finland now and we've been communicating remotely about what we want to finish wrapping up with all of the guitar parts and some other little timpani stuff.
There are some parts where there are certain chords and there's just have a timpani drum moving really, really low in the background — it makes the chords have a super heavy sound. I know this is going to sound funny, but there are certain horns that you can use from the brass/wind section — the trombone is one. There are lower brass and wind instruments than that and those two make great sounds.
An example of us using brass that listeners will know easily because I've always been real subtle with that is the song "Into The Lungs of Hell." I used French horn at the beginning of that and I first discovered the French horn from being in school and also hearing it with The Beatles. I thought that their use of brass was amazing.
Megadeth, "Into the Lungs of Hell"
Is there any update you can give us on new music?
Yes. I just found out. Believe it or not, we got our delivery date when they want me to have the record turned in. I've had a pretty busy last two years. We were getting ready to start to record and then stuff started going wrong with my throat and we found out about cancer. The treatment for the cancer was completed in six months which was mind-blowing for me. But besides that, there were so many other things that had gone wrong.
We have the pandemic here. We have all these things that are going on and the work that I do that affects the people around me. It affects me because I care so much about our fans.
When we were doing the [2019 'Experience] Hendrix' tour last year, we came back to just get started on the record. I thought "Okay, we're gonna blast through this and then, boom, here comes a pandemic and everything drops down a couple of gears. But we're still working every day and the record’s getting done. It's funny because every person that I know that – well, not every person - but the people that I know that know I'm writing a new record, they all go, “So, are you going to write about to coronavirus?” And I’m thinking, “Well, now there’s a thought..."
[laughs] Always a pleasure to catch up. Can't wait to hear this new music.
Yes, yes. Thank you, Jackie.
And if I may, I'd like to send out my condolences to the Van Halen family and all their little ones and all the Van Halen fans. Eddie will be sorely missed. Thank you, Jackie. I love you. It’s so great to start my morning off talking to you — now, I'm going to beat the hell out of my guitar.
Thanks to Dave Mustaine for the interview. Get your copy of 'Rust In Peace — The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece' here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases). Follow Megadeth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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