Dave Mustaine has been at the helm of Megadeth for over 30 years. One of American speed metal's most riveting bands, Megadeth is considered one of The Big 4, alongside Slayer, Anthrax and his former band Metallica. Mustaine's elaborate, dazzling guitar work with Megadeth has created some of thrash metal's classic albums, including Peace Sells But Who' Buying?(1986) and Rust In Peace(1990). But, even albums in their later catalogue such as United Abominations(2007) Endgame(2009) or the band's latest Super Collider(2013) showcase true apocalyptic, socio-political, anti-war thrash metal. Megadeth has even earned several Grammy nominations over the years, and toured the world over, playing to millions of fans.
Dave Mustaine recently took time to briefly speak with the Weekly about the band's upcoming tour with old pals Fear Factory,(stopping Dec. 17th, at the Grove of Anaheim), his pet peeves about constantly being on the road, his biggest joys with Megadeth.
OC Weekly (Alex Distefano): Megadeth's latest tour (which began Nov. 23rd in St. Paul, Minn.) sees an opening band you have toured with in the past, Fear Factory. Are you a fan of theirs?
Dave Mustaine: Very much so. I think when you look at some of the right hand techniques Dino has, he is just a great player. The thing I love is when someone returns to a band there's a chance it will be better or worse, and for Fear Factory it was better. Some people may not like that industrial metal sound, but I do and I think they are bad ass.
With such an immense catalog of songs to choose from, how do you go about preparing your set lists for when you tour?
Well, sometimes we'll do it where we'll play a set list based on who we're playing with, other times base it on where we're playing. You never know which way it's going to be it can be one way or another. Then there have been times when we thought a set list was going to be good for a tour but we changed it. Sometimes we'll go to certain cities in one city we get an hour, another we'll have 70 minutes, and you're always changing it up. You gotta just be flexible, especially when you have over 200 songs. We're loving life as a band right now, touring a lot. We're going to try our best to entertain everyone when we come to your town.
Do you normally prefer to be on the road with Megadeth during the holidays, or at home with family celebrating?
Both, actually. There are holidays I like to be home, and holidays I like to tour. Some people celebrate certain holy holidays, while other faiths don't. We keep these things in perspective and are professionally flexible. But, usually we play New Years, but not Thanksgiving.
What are some of the challenges of touring?
I think dealing with a lot of people in the service industry, hotels, airplanes, and stuff like that. Sometimes you'll be someplace and tired, and then instances where people can be jerks to you. It's never the same as being home and being able to open your refrigerator. You have to get used to paying 8 bucks for a good bottle of water.
What are your feelings about the 20th anniversary of the album, Youthanisa, and the upcoming 30 year anniversary in 2015 of the debut album Killing is My Business…. Would you consider also performing these entire albums live, as you did with Countdown to Extinction and Rust In Peace?
Yeah, we have talked about doing that. I think probably you're beginning to see a pattern of a real willingness to play special stuff like that, playing is the most important part. I do like to play special stuff like that, for instance, later this month I will be playing at a tribute to the legendary country singer George Jones, who passed away earlier this month. They asked me to do it and I am going to graciously bring some metal to the country world. I think it's really good to expand and play different genres as well.
What have been some of your biggest joys in your career with Megadeth over
Playing with the band, it's so hard to say there have been so many. The first Gold Record, when one went double Platinum. Playing all these successful tours all these years over the world. It's been beyond remarkable. Playing With Dio, Mercyuful Fate, and Alice Cooper way back in the day, and even today many great band; the Big 4, Motorhead, Sabbath, Maiden, all of it just never ends. Being a New York Times best-selling author when I flunked high school English. I mean it just shows you the irony of the world, you really can do anything if you put your mind to it!
Without getting too political, how do current events influence your lyrics and music with Megadeth?
Well given the mercurial headlines that are showing up now every single day , whether it's our government or our interactions with other governments, there's a lot of crazy stuff going on right now all over the world. If I chose to go down that path, I have a lot I could say. But at the end of the day, I am very optimistic. I can turn the worst situation into something good. I think a lot of people misinterpret why I even say anything when it comes to this. I's not about what's wrong with stuff, I want stuff to be right, and I'm willing to help make things right. That's why I did the DNC for MTV. But you have these fools saying I'm Republican, which is wrong. I'm an Independent person, I voted for both Democrats and Republican in the past. The point is, I vote.
Megadeth plays the City National Grove of Anaheim, December 17. For info and tickets, click here.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.