Marko Syrjala of Metal-Rules.com recently conducted an interview with drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (ALICE COOPER, F5, MEGADETH, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, Y&T). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metal-Rules.com: Your first album with MEGADETH was "Risk". In a way, it's a strange album that some fans hated but some others loved. How do you like that album by yourself?
Jimmy: Yeah, it's weird record. It's a good record, but it was a different record. Yeah, you pretty much nailed it. You know, some fans hated it, some fans liked it. The people who liked it in America, I found, were people who didn't like MEGADETH before since that was almost a pop-rock record. Some of the songs... they liked this whole sort of a melodic thing. They were people who would have never heard MEGADETH before or people who would have never bought any earlier MEGADETH albums would have bought this record. They bought the "Risk" record. But then again, some of the old fans who wanted to hear "Holy Wars" on every record, they didn't like it. So, you know, you can't please everybody. But it was something different. When I joined the band, they wanted to try something completely different. That was their idea, but I personally wanted to do a heavy record. That was kind of reason why I wanted to join the band, but I wasn't the one who's going to tell those three guys... You know, it was really their band at that point. They wanted to try out different record and who am I to say anything different, you know what I mean?
Metal-Rules.com: What do you think about some old-school fans who still keep on saying that it was partly your "fault" that band decided to change its direction so radically at that point?
Jimmy: No. Believe me, really, it wasn't me, it definitely was not me. It was couple of guys in the band. It wasn't one person, it was management, it was everybody, but not me. I wanted to do, like, a full-on metal/thrash record and everybody knew it. I would say that still there are a couple of heavy songs on the record but they are just kind of slower. It's also a dark record, it's just not like all that fast, speed-metal kind of stuff but if you listen to it, some songs are actually quite heavy.
Metal-Rules.com: Marty Friedman decided to leave after that album. In your opinion, how important member Marty was for megadeth at that point?
Jimmy: Well, you know, Marty's lead sound was real signature to the band, without a doubt. Marty is incredible guitar player and I would have rather he had not left. I didn't want him to leave and I told him I didn't want him to leave. But he came to a point where he needed to change what he was doing and I have nothing but respect for him for that. A band is like a marriage, you know? Sometimes it just doesn't stay together forever and some people have to be changed or they just leave or, issues within the band, something like that. It's just the way it is. Marty is great and I did a tour with him couple of years ago. As a matter of fact, I traded some e-mails with him because we are trying to get together and record some stuff together. He wanted to meet me in L.A. in the end of last October we were going to record in L.A but then he couldn't get over from Japan and I had to leave again to come over to Europe so at some point, maybe in during next couple of months, we are going to do something. I don't know exactly when but I'm looking forward to seeing him. I've always liked him. He is a really good guy.
Metal-Rules.com: When Marty was gone Al Pitrelli (SAVATAGE, ALICE COOPER) stepped in. That actually happened in the middle of "Risk" tour. You then recorded next MEGADETH album "The World Needs A Hero". That album was a kind of back to the roots album, do you agree with that?
Jimmy: When we did "Risk", we did our pop record so OK, "Let's go back and do a harder record." We just literally went to the studio and wrote that record in couple of weeks and here again when Al comes in the band and he did a great job. He was really helpful and he had lot of guitar parts and stuff and he's was influential. Al, again, is a great guitar player. He is just a different player than Marty. He comes from more bluesy background than Marty. Marty can play almost everything but he has got a different approach. It's really hard to explain where he comes from because I'm not sure myself. Definitely, Al is a different player but he did a great job. He came in literally in like three, four days and learned the entire live show and came in and started touring. We really threw lot at him fast. He was a great addition and I think he was probably the only guy who could have pulled that off in that amount of time because we were in the middle of the tour. We didn't even take a break. He just came out and learned all these songs. I remember he was up all night in the bus, in the back, and just practiced. He didn't sleep for few days because he was just practicing all the time. [laughs]
Read the entire interview from Metal-Rules.com.