Thrash metal. It’s aggressive, fast, powerful and it down right shreds! The early 80’s were a time when New Wave and Hair Bands ruled the airwaves, a time when it was “cooler” for a guy to wear more make-up than his girlfriend and tease his hair into a giant lion’s mane. But an underground movement, predominantly in the San Francisco bay area, started to brew that was against anything commercial; a movement that fused the elements of heavy metal with the speed and aggression of hardcore punk. The thrash metal movement. Bands like Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer were at the forefront of this new genre, but one band in particular helped bring it to a new level: Megadeth.
The brainchild of lead guitarist and vocalist Dave Mustaine, Megadeth burst onto the scene in 1983 after Dave was asked to leave Metallica. Known for its technical guitar work, intense drumming, snarling vocals, and lyrics about politics, war, addiction, personal relationships and religion, Megadeth proved themselves as one of the pioneers of thrash metal.
On Tuesday, September 10, Megadeth are joining metal titans Iron Maiden on the Maiden England tour at Austin360 Amphitheatre. This past week we had the opportunity to ask Dave Mustaine a few questions about the tour, Megadeth’s music, and a bit about his life off the road.
Do512: Being that Iron Maiden is such an important metal band, what has it been like being on tour with them?
DM: We’re pretty good friends. We played with them first about 25 years ago. We were touring for So Far, So Good, So What and they were touring for Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son…we’re all friends and it’s great to see them. Plus they are such a great band. Megadeth and Iron Maiden is a no brainer.
Do512: We had also noticed that the dudes in Iron Maiden were cool enough to bring Megadeth champagne as a kind gesture welcoming you to the tour.
DM: It was a nice gesture and I looked at the sign and I was like ‘are you sure it’s me? Am I in the right dressing room?’ (laughs)
Do512: Have you visited Austin before? How do you like it?
DM: We’ve played there a lot and I’m looking to buy a home out there…I’m actually coming out a little early this week. My wife and I have narrowed it down to a couple places. We’re just about ready to pull the trigger and make Austin our home.
I like the barbecue, I like to eat, and I like the people. I think it’s just cool. I like the water. Just kinda hooking up with some friends and making plans about what we are going to be doing once we move out there. Am I gonna get a boat? Am I gonna get a canoe? Am I gonna get a rubber duck?! (laughs).
Do512: In June, Megadeth released their fourteenth album, Super Collider, after signing with Universal. What inspired the album?
DM: When we went in to do the record, everyone was super happy. It just clicked. It was another record with Johnny Kay, a great producer. And personally, the environment and things that go on around you affect records. Sometimes, records will sound a certain way and sometimes they’ll sound another way. I was talking to someone the other day about Risk and when that record came out, who was popular? Sponge? Bush? People don’t think about that. I was listening to a U2 song the other day, I think it was “Vertigo”, and I was thinking ‘wow, that’s such an unusual song for U2’, but it was the climate at the time.
Do512: With such a huge catalog of music, how does Megadeth form their set list from night to night?
DM: It always changes. Sometimes we’ll have a set that we use for the entire tour, sometimes there will be a song that we are working in or out of the set and it just doesn’t come together as a song to be performed live very well, or it will be in the wrong spot so we’ll move it around a little bit because the show is all about timing, too. When you go to the circus, they don’t bring the lions out first because everyone would split. The music business is so competitive now, you really want to make sure your show is a full on experience…our catalog is so vast, we could do a set with a band like Foreigner or Journey or we could go out and do this thing with Maiden which is the current set list we’re talking about. We added “Tornado Of Souls” back into it. And we can do the same thing when we do the set with Sabbath. We should make a set list for that that’s totally unique and killer just for that tour.
Do512: Outside of music, outside of your life in Megadeth, what do you like to do in your free time and with your family?
DM: I like to read, a lot. I’m very curious about history, world history, American history. I went to school to be a stockbroker; I’m a New York Times bestselling author. I have three black belts in various martial arts styles. I like to golf. I used to skydive and do stuff like bungee jumping but then I had a surgery on my neck which makes it a little difficult for me to do anything that’s going to be dangerous for my neck. Those are some of the things I like to do. I like to surf. I used to skateboard but again with the neck thing, hitting the ground hard or something like that can be very painful (laughs). We also have horses and I love exotic cars. I have an Aston Martin Vanquish S that I just got.
I am really grateful that our fans have supported us and given me the opportunity to have a neat car or have a car at all. That’s why when we get out onstage we work as hard as we do and we sign autographs. Man, I remember signing autographs in the snow with wet hair! It’s not comfortable, but it’s the right thing to do.
Do512: What do you see the future holding for Megadeth in the next 5 to 10 years?
DM: I think for the next five years we are going to try and maintain where we are at and just build on the legacy we have right now. We’re at that point now where we’ve gone from being just a historic heavy metal band to getting into those legacy periods where you either go out in a blaze of glory or you kind of fizzle out and people say ‘oh, them again?’ And I think right now we’re doing everything right.
Getting to speak to one of the most revered and important figures in heavy metal was an absolute pleasure. Not only was Dave excited to answer all of the questions, he was extremely insightful and friendly. We’re all looking forward to seeing Megadeth in all of their headbanging glory on Tuesday and you should too! Grab your tickets.
-Contributed by Matthew Lococo