Dave Mustaine Says New Megadeth Album Is ‘One of Many to Come’
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program, discussing the thrash legends' new album, The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!' which is out now. It's "one of many to come," according to the frontman, who seems to be rejuvenated after a lengthy delay in putting out the successor to 2016's Dystopia.
The band overcame several hurdles when writing the 16th Megadeth studio album, from Mustaine's cancer diagnosis to the pandemic to another lineup change, this time at the bass position. Just getting everyone together in the same room "in itself is a miracle," per the guitarist/vocalist.
He credits his rock solid relationship with his band and family for fueling his recovery after undergoing treatments for throat cancer, without which he feels it would've been a longer road back to full health.
Read the full interview below.
If you were reactionary as a younger man, you now seem more mindful of yourself and others. How has that awareness actually made you more dangerous?
I think it's the contrary — it's actually made me a little bit more aware of the repercussions and the negative effects of the things that we say. When I was down in Singapore, we were onstage goofing around — stupid, fat, drunken bonehead jokes — and I said something that really negatively affected me for quite some time. We're living in a time right now where people are just very, very sensitive and argumentative — very litigious — and we just want to play Megadeth music and be happy. We've got our own stuff that we need to take care of with our work, with our family and with ourselves. My health was a big thing and it's hard enough as it is to write a good record like this one.
The four of us coming together in this big old world, that in itself is a miracle. I've been doing this for so long I've been trying to get that ultimate lineup again and I really think that we're there.
Music can be a full circle, that, if you're lucky, brings you back to the unencumbered joy of first learning to play. What aspects of making the new album rekindled that innocence and that sense of exuberance?
Playing with people like Kiko [Loureiro], Steve [DiGiorgio], and Dirk [Verbeuren] was very challenging for me because of the caliber and musicianship that everybody has and to keep things fresh.
We try not to talk much about the transition had to be made, you know, we try not to talk much about it. There's no real perspective that we can take that is going to be considerate to everybody. We basically don't speak about that too much and just talk about the stuff that happened on the record and not to stuff that didn't.
Somebody asked me this morning why did I took all of the old bass parts off and I thought it's obvious — most of it was me demoing the bass and some of it was David [Ellefson's] stuff When Steve [DiGiorgio] started playing, it was so clear that we needed to go forward with that and had I thought about James [Lomenzo], prior to the tour starting up probably would have had James come into the studio and record too.
I liked the way it turned out because it raised the bar for the bass playing for us and it's not another record with bass playing that's kind of holding the fort down. It's really going out on a limb.
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The conditions and circumstances of recording some Megadeth albums are quite notorious. What tumultuous aspects of your personality are still intrinsic to your creativity?
It depends on what's going on day to do. We went through a lot on this record — the pandemic, me getting sick with cancer and overcoming that and the tremendous support that I got from the band and from my family.
I truly think that my recovery would have been a little bit longer and probably a lot more difficult if I didn't have the relationship I do with my band and with my family. I believe that the system works if you listen and you do what you're told. The best thing to do is preventative medication, not to wait till you get sick and then try and clean things up. A big thing for us know when we were doing the record was staying healthy because being on a farm in the middle of nowhere and just working nonstop, it was brutal. We put hours in that I haven't put in in years.
"Best" is subjective and therefore, a flawed categorization. Rather than describing the new album as your best, how would you like it to be recognized?
I would say it's one of many to come — this is the appetizer and we're going to have a few more records that are more stomping Megadeth music. When the record was finished and turned in the last mix... the mixing process is kind of like when you're having a kid and you start to see the baby's head coming in and you're saying, 'Come on, come on,' and the record comes out and you spend the next however long the period is (for us, it was six years of touring and supporting the last record). We'd never done that before and it was fantastic for the record. I believe that we're going to have a really great tour for this record.
After doing such great work on Dystopia and setting up the groundwork for this, we've gone from being a band that played in clubs and theaters when I first got together with my management (5B). Over the seven years or so since we've been with them, we've gone from being a club and a theater act to being an arena/amphitheater act and being a legit one.
That's been really great — all the groundwork that we've laid down and how much we're learning about each other as musicians, commanding the stage, using the right setlists for each show, knowing the audience so that if you're in one particular place where certain songs are more popular than other songs, you know that and you deliver those songs live when you play there. You're not giving the same setlist that you would for an audience that's more of a metal kind of a city like San Francisco or Los Angeles or something. Knowing your audience is super important.
In an industry as unpredictable as the music business, there's no guarantee about the shelf life of a band. What made you sure that Megadeth could and would have longevity?
Nothing! I had no idea this was going to happen. Tenacity is something that I believe is important. If you want to make it in the music business, it's so much more than just having good songs. That's an important thing, but you have to have an understanding and a grasp of common things — language, arithmetic, percentages... and common decency goes a long way too.
There's so many self-entitled spoiled brats that have infiltrated the music business, have used applications that you could put a dozen chimpanzees in a room full of dozen laptops with Pro Tools on it and eventually one of them is going to come up with "Stairway to Heaven"... I shouldn't say any particular song but, it's pretty obvious that people are going to come up with stuff after time.
Thanks to Dave Mustaine for the interview. Get your copy of Megadeth's new album 'The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!' here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify. Catch Megadeth on tour at these dates and head to this location for tickets. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.