Gnarly Charlie Speaks With Megadeth Frontman/Gigantourprenuer, Dave Mustaine

By Charlie Steffens aka Gnarly Charlie, Writer/Photographer
Friday, September 1, 2006 @ 10:07 AM

"It’s not about going out ther

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“Mega” Dave Mustaine spent a few moments to update KNAC.COM on Gigantour, the upcoming Megadeth album, United Abominations, and how his son will carry the Mustaine torch of guitar-shredalocity.

KNAC.COM: Good morning, Dave. How are things?

MUSTAINE: Pretty damn good.

KNAC.COM: The Gigantour lineup this year seems to be less eclectic than last year.

MUSTAINE: Eclectic?

KNAC.COM: Wouldn’t you say it was rather eclectic last year?

MUSTAINE: Tell me how your using eclectic and I’ll tell you if it was.

KNAC.COM: Well, you had Life of Agony on one stage and Nevermore on the main stage. It was a mixed bag of different bands, from speed to death to progressive metal on up to Life of Agony...

MUSTAINE: Yeah, it was supposed to be that way, brother. Here’s why: I’ve done a bunch of festivals over my career, especially over in Europe. And, the European festivals—if you haven’t gone there, Charlie—they’re different, you know? They’ll have a lot of different bands on them. I played a festival one time and REM was headlining, then Oasis, then it was Soundgarden, and then it was Sheryl Crow, then Megadeth, and then Bo Diddley...and Faith No More was there, too. And I’m thinking ‘That is the weirdest lineup’, but you know what? It works. If you go to a concert and you see kind of the same bands, what have you done? You’ve just played the same record, ten times in a row. So, why not have a festival that has a bunch of different types of metal bands; hardcore, punk, speed, thrash, black, death, power…you can’t do it all every year. This year’s a little different from last year. But see, Gigantour is about a spirit. It’s about the spirit of the guitar and about the spirit of heavy metal. It’s not about going out there and making money and charging 100 dollars a ticket. The tickets are really low-priced, because it’s about a legacy, you know what I mean? It’s about giving something back, because my career’s kind of winding down as far as what I want to do that’s left. Basically I’ve done everything I wanted to do with my career. I would like to get the seemingly, uh … (laughs) I don’t have the right word to say this, but the unobtainable Grammy, because I’ve been nominated 7 times for that. That’s like one of the only things left that I need to get to complete my collection –that and a Diamond Award, but hell, that’s the kind of stuff Carlos Santana gets.

KNAC.COM: How did you come up with the title for the forthcoming album United Abominations?

MUSTAINE: Traveling as much as you do as an American, people are prejudiced to Americans who travel because a lot of Americans that travel are really rude travelers. That doesn’t mean that all Americans are, but sometimes we’ll be someplace and people will take their stuff out on us because the ass-wipe with the nosecoat and the inflatable horsey ramp down by the pool is bellyaching because they’re not getting served within the first 5 seconds of sitting down. That’s just not the way they do things outside of this country and you tend to take a look at different people’s political viewpoints and one thing that is a common thread with everything—with the United Nations being the appointed entity to promote peace and keep us from going to war…they’ve failed. They’ve failed miserably. And I thought ‘The United Nations is more like the United Abominations’ and I went ‘Holy shit, that’s a great title.’ Then I wrote a song about it and went ‘You know what? That’s the title track.’

KNAC.COM: Did your new bass player, James LoMenzo, have much input in the writing process?

MUSTAINE: Well, he was very involved in his own parts. The song “Washington’s Next”, has a bass part that is reminiscent of John Entwistle. I don’t know if you were a big fan of The Who but…

KNAC.COM: I’m a big fan of The Who.

MUSTAINE: When you hear the bass line in the song, you’re going to think “That sounds like the bass line from “Can You See the Real Me?” It’s just hauling ass, Entwistle-wise.

KNAC.COM: When does the new record street?

MUSTAINE: Next year. We’re still working on the record. I’m on my way to the studio right now. We thought that we would have it done before Gigantour and we just didn’t have enough time. It’s good, I think, for us to have that separation, to be able to walk away from the project and get a little bit of distance so that we can have some perspective or…in the words from my friends from Spinal Tap (as Dave takes on his best British accent) “A bit too much perspective.”


I then ask Dave a question that he’d rather not answer, and then thinking that our interview was going to shit I go on to tell him that I didn’t want to piss him off. He responds.

MUSTAINE: You know what? This reputation I have about my temper, that’s such a misnomer.

KNAC.COM: Whether I’ve heard that you’re mercurial or not, it’s all really hearsay. I don’t really want to talk about [unmentionable] anyway. Honestly, I’d rather talk about the music and how good you and Marty [Friedman] were together.

MUSTAINE: He was good, wasn’t he?

KNAC.COM: Putting a big event like Gigantour together makes me think that you’re like the Bob Geldof of heavy metal.

MUSTAINE: Oh my God! Do I look that bad?

KNAC.COM: No (laughs). Father Time has been good to you, considering the battles you’ve had with alcohol and chemical dependency. How are things now? It seems like that is in remission…

MUSTAINE: No. No. Let me reassure you on something. For me, there was something that happened in the ‘90’s, where the “sobriety police” went through the music business and anybody that did anything to excess was immediately branded a drug addict. And, to me I believe that there is use, abuse, and addiction. Am I in a 12-Step program, no? I made a personal decision a few years ago to change my life and it’s affected all areas of my life. I enjoy who I am right now—I’m no teetotaler. I have a much better life right now than I used to have. About the temper—when you get angry you get just as angry…for me, it was such an uphill battle in the music business for so long, because my previous band had a great opportunity and not everybody else had the same opportunity. In order to get to the top of the heap that’s that high there’s a lot of kicking and scratching going on, and unfortunately you pick up a bad reputation along the way. This is my way of making good for it.

KNAC.COM: How is your arm feeling these days?

In January 2002, Mustaine suffered from radial neuropathy, a compressed radial nerve in his left hand and arm, making it impossible for him to play guitar. In April of that year, Megadeth was disbanded.

MUSTAINE: It’s good—I’m completely healed with my arm and I’ve gone back to full on physical training, all around taking care of my body and my health. I was really active in physical training when I lived out here before because the person I would train with was legendary and when I moved to Arizona an 8-hour flight, round trip, when you leave the front door to when you return, if you’re going to go there for an hour to train, gets to be kind of a bit laborious.

KNAC.COM: Where are you living now?

MUSTAINE: I live in Fallbrook [California] now. So now I drive three hours each way to come up and train.

KNAC.COM: The injury had you immobilized—you were not playing guitar at all, right? The pain was that bad?

MUSTAINE: It wasn’t pain, it’s just the hand refused to take signals to the brain. I mean, for that matter, there’s a lot of radial neuropathy going on in my life (laughs).

KNAC.COM: Likewise, man. So you’re totally recovered. When I saw you play last summer at Irvine, for the Gigantour show there, you seemed to be playing as good as ever.

MUSTAINE: Yeah, I am. In fact, during the process of rehabilitating my arm I did a lot of rehabilitation with my playing, too. I had to learn to play again, so I corrected some of mistakes I was making.

KNAC.COM: Which songs are your favorites to perform live?

MUSTAINE: My favorite songs to play live—it kind of goes back and forth. Sometimes if I’m in Spanish-speaking countries it’ll be “Trust”, because I sing “Trust” in Spanish, and a lot of times if I’m in foreign countries it’ll be “A Tout Le Monde” because they all sing it in French. If I’m in countries that speak English it kind of goes back and forth between songs like “Hangar 18” and “Holy Wars” and some of the new stuff, like “Kick the Chair”, where people don’t know what to expect—they haven’t heard any new stuff and they’re listening to the new stuff and they’re kinda going “Okay, this is what it’s about, this new record.” The last record, it was on a record label that was going through some considerable growing pains, which ultimately led to its demise, and that’s why we left—we left before the bloodletting started. I think we were one of the first bands that made the decision to leave them. After that it was pretty much mass exodus. We had a good time while we were there, for a little while, and then it just became obvious we had outgrown the label. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen with this new relationship with Roadrunner. I think it’s going to be fantastic. It’s been great, so far.

KNAC.COM: Aside from organizing Gigantour and working on the new album, what else have you been up to?

MUSTAINE: Well, my son started surfing. I used to surf when I was a kid, so I go out surfing with him.

KNAC.COM: Where do you guys surf?

MUSTAINE: We live in Oceanside. We’ve got a beach house in Oceanside and then our main house is in Fallbrook, so Justice goes surfing in Oceanside right now, but he goes all up and down the coast, too.

KNAC.COM: How old is Justice?

MUSTAINE: He’s fourteen. Little guitar player.

KNAC.COM: A chip off the old block, huh?

MUSTAINE: No, I think he’s going to be better than me. He’s already doing some pretty good guitar work. When I started I was thirteen and he’s considerably farther along than I was.

KNAC.COM: Do you still ride horses?

MUSTAINE: Yeah. My daughter was at a horse show this weekend and we were just on the phone talking to somebody about stallions this morning. You know, that’s a really, really cool thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched a stallion, but it’s very metal…very metal to see a stallion-- just that majestic power and all the hair…and just snorting. There’s a lot of coarse things that I could say about it, too, the whole sexual stuff, but I’ll excuse myself on that, because I don’t need to be crass like that (laughs). The cool thing is that looking at these horses just totally inspires me. Totally inspires me.

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