Interview: Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Talks Gigantour, Laments The Stupidity Of Some In Metal Community

by (@BHSmithNYC)

[Photo: Getty Images]

[Photo: Getty Images]

Dave Mustaine’s reputation precedes him. He is perhaps the greatest guitarist of his generation; if not, certainly of the musical movement he helped inspire. The man whose outsize talent fueled two of thrash metal’s greatest groups and whose confrontational attitude got him booted from the biggest metal band of all time. His ensuing rise from the ashes with Megadeth and their artistic and commercial triumphs testify to his immense musical gifts and his steely determination to succeed. He is imposing in person but his answers are thoughtful and deliberate. We caught up with Mustaine when he was in the middle of the latest installment of his Gigantour Tour, which he has been personally putting together since 2005 to showcase a diverse away of heavy metal bands with an emphasis on musicianship in general and great guitar playing in particular. Megadeth have a busy touring schedule this year and will soon be on the road with Iron Maiden in support of their latest album Super Collider, their first album for Universal Music Group.


Tuner: Megadeth have been around for almost 30 years. Your material goes from the thrash metal of the early days through more straight forward material like the Countdown to Extinction album. Your latest single “Super Collider” sounds to me like great, traditional American hard rock. How do you put together a set for a tour that touches on all the different stylistic changes in Megadeth’s career?

Dave Mustaine: Choosing songs for the set kind of depends on who we’re playing with. We know what songs are necessary to play that are crowd favorites and then we have a handful of songs that are interchangeable depending on the show. We were joking around the other day that with the variation in tempos and the colors of the song, some are kind of dark in nature, some are more uplifting, that we can play with just about anybody. For example we’re going out with Iron Maiden this year and at the end of the year with Black Sabbath. We can totally dirge it out and make the songs heavy to go out to play to the Sabbath crowd or ramp it up and make it fast and riffy for Iron Maiden which is really cool.

You’ve said Gigantour is about exposing bands with great guitar players. You’re one of the foremost guitarists of your generation. Who was the first guitarist who made you want to be a great guitarist?

That would be Jimmy Page. I think he really explored the boundaries of guitar playing. That really influenced my songwriting but not so much my guitar playing. Once I started to really realize heavy metal was calling me, and I was brought up on Motown and The Beatles too, so that’s where a lot of the beat and the melody comes from in Megadeth songs. We’re one of the few heavy metal bands that really have melody in their songs. Looking at some of the other guitar players that really crafted my playing and the aggressiveness I play with would have been getting into AC/DC at a very, very early age and watching Angus turn the guitar playing world on its ear. And bands like Diamond Head, Judas Priest, old U.F.O., stuff that was really pushing the boundaries of guitar playing.

Those bands though are very straight forward as compared to Megadeth, especially the early stuff, which is so rhythmically complex. Where did that musical impulse come from?

I think a lot of that comes from really loving punk rock and jazz music and being able to listen to those things and come up with some kind of a hybrid. I also like classical music a lot too. And then going back to what I was saying with The Beatles and Motown. Motown has this amazing beat and rhythm to it and the bass does a lot of counterpoint stuff that we try to do. You know, the funny things is, name five famous bass players. Most people can’t do it. We didn’t want to lose that position so we really focused on it and take the approach that the bass is a lead bass and the drums are lead drums. The drums are an atonal kind of an instrument, they’re more percussive, but if you play it like you would a guitar riff, following up and down, you can really play a lot of the rhythms. I think when you look at the songs as a whole and they have a lot of great pieces, that’s when you have those types of songs. But then we also have very simple songs that are more straight forward like “Symphony of Destruction,” “A Tout le Monde” or “Super Collider.”