Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine: ‘Super Collider’ Is ‘From My Heart and Not From My Head’
Dave Mustaine is beloved by metal fans for the classic albums and songs he has released as frontman of Megadeth over the years, as well as his incredible musicianship as a guitarist. However, the thrash titan has also experienced backlash for some controversial statements he’s made over the years.
When we had the opportunity to speak with Mustaine recently, we asked him about Megadeth’s new album ‘Super Collider,’ and it didn’t take long for the metal legend to acknowledge that his political views and social observations had not only stirred up debate among his fans, but also stirred up turmoil within his own mind. Instead of letting it eat away at him, he channeled that energy into the songs that appear on ‘Super Collider.’
In our interview, Dave Mustaine discusses the recording process of ‘Super Collider,’ the themes within the disc and working with Disturbed / Device singer David Draiman on a couple of songs on the album.
There was a relatively quick turnaround from the release of ‘TH1RT3EN’ to the release of ‘Super Collider.’ Was that just a case of a burst of creativity coming shortly after ‘TH1RT3EN’ dropped?
I think that when we went out to support ‘Countdown to Extinction’ for the 20th anniversary we were really having such a great time together that we just made music and not everybody can do that. I think that writing music is one thing and making it is another. If you make music you hope you don’t have to worry about writing it because writing sounds like a chore, doesn’t it? For us, we get together and do our thing and something fun always happens out of it; it’s not always usable – sometimes we file it away for later.
For example, the majority of the riffs in [the track] ‘Super Collider’ — it’s a very simple song, there’s not a lot of stuff there, it was a file I had saved from several years before. I restructured the song a little bit and added a part to it and that’s how the song ended up being. It was just one of those songs that had a vibe to it, it wasn’t even that it was simple, after we finished ‘Super Collider,’ people were saying, “Wow, it sounds like ‘Teenage Wasteland’ [The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley]; it sounds like [AC/DC’s] ‘Highway to Hell’; sounds like [Van Halen’s] ‘Running With the Devil’,” and I was like, “Well those songs don’t suck.”
I was actually going to say that the song ‘Super Collider’ is a bit of a departure from Megadeth in that it has a more mainstream rock quality to it …
Not to dispute your opinion because I totally agree with you that it is a departure, but we have had songs that were kind of like that. ‘Symphony [of Destruction]’ was kind of simple; ‘Foreclosure [of a Dream]’ was kind of simple; ‘A Tout Le Monde’ was kind of simple and for the average guitar player it’s a little bit harder because of the spread on the chords and stuff like that – they were probably a little more, dare I say, poppier that ‘Black Friday’ or something like that.
I think that as a whole, the vibe of ‘Super Collider,’ the record, all the songs on it, it’s pretty expansive. I really went as deep into the color wheel as I could with different types of songs and the different topics — we’re talking about Alzheimer’s, we’re talking about depression, we’re talking about betrayal, teenage pregnancy, all kinds of stuff. I didn’t intend any of these things to happen like that, I just got so sick of watching the news and the way that it was making me feel, the stuff that I was saying, the stuff that I was tweeting, the stuff that I was reading and writing – it was really having a negative affect on me.
I figured that I just need to write from my heart and not from my head anymore; my head gets in the game and I start thinking about, “I like this, I don’t like that and if you don’t like this then I need to tell you what’s going on. I know better because I watch the news on TV and you have no idea because you don’t sit in a hotel room for 24 hours a day watching friggen news.” I think just backing away from all that stuff and just getting back to what makes Megadeth “Megadeth” – it’s a metal band for the people, by the people, of the people where we sing about what we have in common not about what I watch on the news and how mad it makes me.
It’s not just politics. I watched something over here – they were dragging one of these country men in one of these African nations and I watched this one guy jump up in the air and kick this guy in the head and his head hit an abutment on the road and it bounced so he sat right back up and he fainted — and that stuff just pisses me off. I had to change the channel because I don’t know if it’s the dad in me or I got soft or you just get older and you have little lives depending on you. If the fans got to me and I started realizing, “Hey you know what, you do influence these guys with your behavior and what you say,” but I kind of lost sight of that and I’m glad that I was able to make a record that is more in line with who I am as a person.
You worked with David Draiman on a couple of songs — ‘Dance in the Rain’ and ‘Forget to Remember’ — how did that come about and what did Draiman bring to the table in terms of musicianship?
Well, David had come out to the studio and we looked at four different songs and his ideas were all great but some of them made Megadeth sound more like Disturbed or Device and it wasn’t really a suggestion I could pull off. It would sound like me trying to be like David but there were a couple moments where he did something and I would be like, “Ooh, I like that’ and one of them was the little whispering part in ‘Forget to Remember.’ Right before the choruses, there’s kind of a scat, adlib kind of thing and I never really did that kind of stuff.
Then the chorus for ‘Dance in the Rain,’ he and I came up with a melody for the chorus which I thought was a risk for me because I don’t sing and hold notes for very long – I’ll do a bunch of different notes because I don’t have a huge lung capacity from my years of smoking as much as I did. I’m not going to tell people not to smoke but man if I had to do it over again, I never would have done it because it affects my singing. We were just in Switzerland, and God, talk about needing an iron lung, but I digress.
Dave lives out in Austin and I hooked up with him out there because we had talked about him doing Gigantour with us and I love his new project. We had dinner, went over to his house and he wanted to show me some band he produced and I like Trivium so I listened to it and he plays his new Device stuff, and I’m like, “Do it Dave, do it, go and ask him, don’t be a chicken,” and so I’m like, “What do you think about singing on ‘Dancing in the Rain?’” and he goes [in his best Draiman voice] “I would be delighted, it would be an honor.”
I had told him that I was changing one word because one word has the power of changing the interpretation of something. People are so obsessed with everything I say right now, trying to dissect it and turn it into something awful and so I was just taking a look at how I’m wording stuff – the implication is still there but it can’t be misinterpreted. I told him about it and he re-sang it and I loved his part.
The ending of ‘Dance in the Rain,’ I wanted to give the impression that all hell has broken loose and we’re living in that Orwellian kind of future where we’re being told what to do with all intensive purpose with all the monitoring and everything that’s going on it’s looking like that’s happening. I had done the part that he sang and I liked it, it was good enough but when he did it, it just took on a whole new character and it was cool because I just pictured Dave in his normal vibe – if that song connects with the public and ends up being a video I can imagine his participation and I’m sure he’ll be just as great visually as he is vocally.
Our thanks to Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine for taking the time to chat with us. Stay tuned for more from the interview, including Mustaine’s thoughts on the enduring power of thrash metal and the upcoming Gigantour. ‘Super Collider’ is available to order at iTunes. Also be sure to enter our contest below for a chance to win an autographed Dave Mustaine Signature Dean VMNTX Guitar!