Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Talks Reaction to ‘Super Collider,’ Love of KISS + More
At the recent Aftershock Festival in Sacramento, Calif., Megadeth brought their thunder the day after slaying a San Bernardino crowd on a bill with Iron Maiden and Anthrax. Backstage at Aftershock, Loudwire had the pleasure of sitting down with Megadeth's main man Dave Mustaine for an intriguing conversation.
The fall is shaping up to be a busy one for Megadeth, with the band just announcing new U.S. tour dates and releasing a new live CD/DVD (available here). Here, Mustaine talks about the reaction to the band's most recent album 'Super Collider' and how his mother-in-law's battle with Alzheimer's disease has affected his family. He also discusses his love of KISS, how faith helps guide him and more. Check out our Q&A with Dave Mustaine below:
Dave, what do you think of the reaction to the latest Megadeth album, ‘Super Collider’?
A lot of people liked it and a lot of people didn't like it. That's the beauty of art, it's in the eye of the beholder. If you keep making the same record over and over again you are not really sharing your life with anybody, you're just repeating the same chapter. On the last record, there was some stuff that was really difficult for me. We had just found out my mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease and that really affected lot of record; watching her progressive decline.
Is that your first firsthand experience with the disease?
It is. Until it happens to you, you really have no idea. And I think that when I saw how upset our family became and yet how we are able to provide the resources for her, it made me think about all the families going through this that don't have the resources to take care of a loved one. It also made me really appreciate our fans because without them I would not be able to take care of things the way I am. Really brings it all home. And then beyond that, like I said, I just did what any good artist does. I put my emotions into my music. That's the pain you hear in the music. It’s real. People can say, “We don’t want to hear this kind of s--t,” but to me, this s--t is important.
You’ve never seemed to have any real issue with addressing serious topics.
Right. On ‘Youthanasia’ we talked about incest. We’ve talked about all kinds of stuff over the years that people are afraid to talk about and so I think people appreciate the openness. ‘Family Tree’ was a very controversial song at the time but I think if you do things in good taste then you can really help the situation. Even when people misinterpret your songs it’s okay. ‘Train of Consequences’ has nothing to do with trains per se, yet a man hit by a train that lost his legs told me that the song was cathartic for him. And a classical violinist in Chicago, too -- she was hit by a train and the song spoke to her. I hear from people like that and start to realize how affective music can be in dealing with things, no matter what you intended with a song. As long as what you write is real.
That’s the most important thing to you?
Sure. If you're just playing up the outrage for the sake of outrage, then you're being predictably unpredictable - which is not unpredictable at all. You see people sometimes where their whole shtick is about outrage and having to cut themselves and do whatever they can to appear as shocking as possible. It’s a shame that sometimes music becomes about the guy with three tits or whatever. Thanks to the shock and outrage, there are many great musicians that will never see the light of day. We are living in a period of the have and have-nots. It's about how connected you -- not how good you are
You seem to follow the news closely. Any opinion regarding the recent headlines in the Mideast?
I’ll say this. If you treat people the way you want to be treated, I think things will sort themselves out. It all goes back to how communities get along. Within our community, the metal community, it’s a good situation. It’s admirable. We, for the most part, get along. But when somebody shoots their mouth off, present company included, you don’t see hatred. People tend to forgive pretty quickly. Metal is just like a soundtrack to an ideology. All music is like that. And I think metal sets some pretty good examples. When it comes to things going on in the world, I also sit back as a 52-year-old man and just think, what's next? I read something a little while ago that said pretty soon we’re going to find out that all the people we think are really bad are really good and all the people we think are really good are really bad. This idea that nothing is as it appears to be.
You’re wearing a KISS t-shirt today (see pic below). Were you a fan growing up?
KISS was one of the bands from the very beginning that affected me. And this record on the shirt, ‘Hotter than Hell,’ on the back cover had a girl with a boob sticking out. I thought that was pretty cool as a kid (laughs). I saw KISS at the Long Beach arena back then, I saw Rush, they were a couple of the bands that affected me growing up once I saw them play live. But I also saw bands at little clubs like the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach where I grew up. It was never about how big the show was, it was how good the music was. I've got a saying: it doesn’t matter how big your pencil is – it’s what you write with it.
Does your faith continue to play a big part in what you create?
Yeah, but it's a personal thing and a lot of people think I try to push my views on people but I'm not doing that. I died once, so when I came back I had to believe there was more to life. It’s why I started to seek things out. I tried a lot of things. Black magic, Satanism, Witchcraft, putting spells and hexes on people. I was pretty confused spiritually, and then I adopted what every foxhole atheist says: ‘God, got get me out of this problem and I’ll never do any of this stuff again.” And then my life turned around and things got better. There are bad days still. But it’s only a moment that’s bad. As a human being now, I decide how long to let that moment last.
I guess with age comes a certain philosophical approach, huh?
I'm not concerned about what anyone thinks about me, but instead the power that I know believes in me, and so my life is now a lot easier. I don’t get caught up in posturing. I can just be myself. You can say, "I like Dave" or "I don’t like Dave." One thing for sure with me is I don’t pretend – I don’t play around. I don’t bulls--t people. I try and be as straightforward so you don’t say, this guy is an enigma – which Dave did you get today? If you don’t like me it’s okay. Doesn’t mean I don’t like you. Something I learned a long time ago, I think it was from the 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' movie. When the guy says, “Anger turned inward is an unconquerable foe.” I’m sure that’s a Confucian saying turned into a movie, but it's really true. There are terrible motivators in life - anger is one of them because once you get out of that place where you’re pissed, you’re like, what have I done? You’re usually sitting in handcuffs. And I’m done with all that now.