DAVE MUSTAINE: 'Anyone Who Says That MEGADETH Isn't Me Is A Fool'

Chris Gill of Guitar One magazine (web site) recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Guitar One: When "The System Has Failed" came out, you said it would be the last MEGADETH album. What inspired you to change your mind?

Mustaine: "The System Has Failed" was initially supposed to be a solo album. I had left MEGADETH behind in 2002 and was going forward with my solo career. While I was in the studio, I got a call from my publishing company, and they told me that I owed my label another MEGADETH record. Until I gave them that they would own me as a solo artist. I didn't like the idea of someone owning my rights forever, so my solo career had to wait.

That album was going to be the last MEGADETH record, but when we went on tour the crowd response was really surprising. It just continued to grow. The timing seemed right for it. All these young guitarists were citing MEGADETH and my last band as their influences, and these guys were really talented. To have them paying homage to me was really flattering. As a result of that, a lot of people were coming out to see us. Gigantour infused a lot of interest in MEGADETH.

Guitar One: Did that praise affect your guitar playing?

Mustaine: I missed being that guitar player that everybody looked up to — not necessarily liked, but looked up to. That's a degree of how good you are. You're going to have people who love you and those who despise you. To the people who love me, I'm honored. To the people who despise me, I'm happy.

The last five years have been the best years of my career because I'm really cognizant and in the moment watching what is taking place. It's been a period of soul searching and introspection. I've gone back to that boy inside of me that loves to play things that make people go, "I hate you, Dave." Glen [Drover, MEGADETH guitarist] said that last night when he was trying to play a riff I wrote. I wonder if I'm just supposed to be a writer and not a player because I always write stuff that's beyond what I can play. Usually when it's beyond what I can play I have my other gunslinger do it. Fortunately I've had some of the greatest talent in the music business on my side.

Guitar One: How did Glen become a member of the band?

Mustaine: I met Glen about three years ago after I saw a little snippet of him on the Internet. My spirit knew that Glen was the right guy. I could tell by the way he moved and how he has this interesting look that's almost Native American or Asian. He has the rock star vibe, too. As soon as I heard him playing, I said, "That's my guy!" I started talking with him and I noticed that he seems very shy until you put a guitar in his hand — then he's like Bruce Lee.

Guitar One: Glen fits in exceptionally well with the band. How does he compare to other guitarists you've worked with?

Mustaine: I didn't know that I could ever replace Marty Friedman. When Al Pitrelli came along, he was a good substitute, but he certainly wasn't a replacement. That period was so inane. Two people in the band didn't want to continue on and another guy thought it was his band and not mine. As far as I remember it, when the bus left METALLICA at New York and went to California, we didn't stop in Minnesota. MEGADETH is my band and always has been. Anyone who says that MEGADETH isn't me is a fool. It's as asinine as saying Ozzy Osbourne isn't Ozzy Osbourne. I'm a solo artist who has fantastic musicians and a band around me that plays under the moniker of MEGADETH. If the voice changed it wouldn't be the same. I can't tell you how I felt the first time I heard VAN HALEN with Sammy Hagar going, [sings the scat part of "Why Can't This Be Love?"] "do-doot, do-doot, do, do do do do-doot, do-doot, do-doot, do, do do do do-doot." This was the iceman? Sammy, what happened to "This Planet's On Fire"? You can't change the voice.

I know our fans are very forgiving, and I know that the public is very curious about what is going on with MEGADETH right now. There was a period a few years ago when I compromised my direction. Around 2002 I looked at what I was doing and said, "I don't want to do this anymore." That's why I broke up MEGADETH then. But now I refuse to compromise. I'm only concerned about my own music. I'm really excited about what's going on with this record.

Guitar One's entire interview with Dave Mustaine can be found in the May 2007 issue of the magazine. More information can be found at www.guitaronemag.com.

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