The iconic thrash metal band comes to Reno.
Dave Mustaine has led the iconic thrash metal band Megadeth since 1983. The group recently completed a world tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1992 double-platinum album Countdown to Extinction. Megadeth comes to the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno on Dec. 19.
Countdown to Extinction was the very first album I ever bought with my own money. The last couple of years you've been celebrating that album's 20 year anniversary. You did a tour playing that album in its entirety, which was recently documented on a new live album. Can you tell me about revisiting the material from that album?
It's very interesting when you approach doing an entire record because you have to learn all the songs and sometimes there are songs on there that are very personal, so to relearn them, as crazy as this sounds, is like a bad tooth back into your head, to revisit some of that pain. It's great to play the songs once you've learned them, but when you reintroduce yourself to all that, it's like slipping back into a crashed car.
So you consider some of the songs on that album to be bad teeth?
No, no, no. It's the emotion that was around some of that stuff. Those songs from Countdown were some very, very emotional songs, a lot of the subject matter, what was going on. For me it was really kind of a coming to age as adult, my son being born, having my priorities all change. When you're young, and you're single, you don't have any real commitment to anybody. You don't really care about accountability because these are my rights, and I want them. But as you start to have more responsibility in your life¡ªwhen I got married, and my son was born, things had a little bit of a paradigm shift. I still consider myself as capable of having fun onstage and playing those old thrashers.
The tour that's coming through here in Reno is in support of the new album, Super Collider. Tell me about the tour and the new album.
This is going to be our last time playing in Reno until 2015. We're going to be taking a break. We've got some dates lined up next year internationally. When those are done in August we're going to start working on our next record. But we want to have enough time between records to write some personal and important. The music is pretty fun and pretty easy. The lyrics are hard. I don't want to just write some stupid crap. A lot of times you hear a really great song and then you read the lyrics, and you're like, what are you trying to say here, bro?
Where do you turn for lyrical inspiration?
It's partly just living life. Sting said something really smart one time: “You've got to live life between records so you have something to say.” I'm definitely paraphrasing it, but I think you get the gist.
Definitely. With Super Collider, I read some reviews of it before I listened to it, and the album is a lot better than the reviews had prepared me for it to be. Why do you think it got negative reviews?
Well, it didn't get negative reviews from the fans. It got negative reviews from the critics. ¡K That's not a resounding endorsement [laughs]. You've got to factor in the fact that there’s still a lot of people out there that don't like Megadeth. There's been so many different regime changes over the years. And every time there's a new tour manager or a new production manager or a new business manager or a new personal manager or a new label or anew this or a new that, there's always new people coming in, And they bring their friends and their enemies, and we've accumulated a lot on our own [laughs]. I didn't have a hard time doing that by myself. But there's also been a lot of stuff that's happened with all those changes. But we've been really solid for quite some time. People don't know this, but [drummer] Shawn Drover has been in Megadeth longer than [former drummer] Nick Menza was.
You guys have played Reno a bunch of times over the years …
Shawn Drover's first show was in Reno, almost 10 years ago. We played a casino out there.
So that was probably a memorable show?
For him it was. He went to the hospital that night. He had never used those in-ear monitors before, and they were so loud that they pounded his brains out, and he got vertigo. He came back and I said, “Why'd you have to go to the hospital?” And he said, “I got vertigo.” And I said, “You pussy.” And he said, “It's only my third show ever.” And I was like, “What did you just say?” I've I'd known he'd only done two shows before that I probably wouldn't have hired him. But he was so good you would never think that. But fortunately for him, his brother left out that slightly important detail.
That is so funny.
Tell me about it. And the butthole tour manager we had at the time didn't get a barricade, so I'm up there stiff arming people like a football player all night, trying to play guitar with one hand, and push people off the stage with the other, and as soon as we get off the stage, my drummer is gone.
I'm sure you get asked about this a lot, but the portrayal of you in Some Kind of Monster from a few years ago makes you seem like you're still really bitter about being removed from Metallica¡ª
[Woman's voice: Hello? Hey, can we just keep to the record and tour, please?]
OK. It's a music related question. I was just going to ask what kind of terms he's on with James and Lars [of Metallica] now, but if that's a no-go area …
It's not a no-go area. It's just really tired. There's so many great things I'd like to share. How are things with me and James? They're fine. He wished me happy birthday. I wished him happy birthday. We're fine.
I can understand getting frustrated by getting asked about the same kind of things, but for me as an interviewer it's frustrating because I have things I'd like to talk you about and now I'm like, am I going to get interrupted again? For you, is that frustrating? To have your interviews policed like that?
Well, let me back up a little bit here. When we agree to do these interviews with people, basically what we do is we talk to them about the tour and the record and stuff like that. We try to stay away from politics, because no matter how I'm portrayed it just sucks. And we try to stay away from the Metallica questions because no matter how I'm portrayed it sucks. And if you want to take a chance at hurting me and putting a question about Metallica or politics, if that's your bag, go ahead. But I thought we were going along in a great direction.
I can understand that. I'm not out to vilify you.
I can tell by the sound of your voice that you're a nice cat. And it's not that you're being handcuffed. There's just so many great things to talk about, and there's just so many people out there, and it's like, not another fucking Metallica question. We're all good.