On September 20, Honduras rock journalist Alvaro Villatoro (a.k.a. Lemmy Simmons) of Hard Heavy conducted an interview with former MEGADETH drummer Nick Menza. You can now listen to the chat using the SoundCloud widget below.
Asked about his 2002 solo album "Life Afer Death", Menza said: "Putting songs out with MEGADETH, it was really difficult; it was like pulling teeth to write songs in that band, because Dave [Mustaine], he's so driven as far as having songs — he's got many songs, so it's hard to write a whole song by yourself. I kept bringing songs in and bringing songs in, and he was, like, 'Nah, you just stick to playing drums and let me worry about the songwriting.' And I was, like, 'I'm just gonna make a solo record. So I had all these songs left over. So after I got fired, I said, 'You know what? I'm just gonna put these out.'
"It was more of a personal thing and a project for me to do; I play everything on it. It was kind of, like, to kill some time and put out a record. Now they're asking me to put it out again, and I'm, like, 'Man, I already made that record.'
"I've got another record in the can right now that I'm ready to put out — THE ATOMIC DISINTEGRATOR, it's called; that's the name of my new project. And it's very heavy. I'm very pumped. And I'm kind of looking to see to get some other players in there — whether they're known guys or unknown guys. 'Cause right now it's just me doing everything and I can't very well tour on that by myself. But I can definitely release a couple of tracks and see where it goes from there. I'm trying to do a cartoon with it for TV and a comic book. And it's really cool. The whole concept is THE ATOMIC DISINTEGRATOR… It's got some governmental, conspiracy, alien stuff in it. It's mostly about current stuff that's going on in the world. And the music is very metal, but more contemporary style — like MESHUGGAH-type, OPETH, GOJIRA. It's heavy."
Menza has been writing, recording and producing constantly but only releasing sporadic singles for years. That will all change when he opens the floodgates with the upcoming release of his memoir, "Nick Menza: Megalife", by acclaimed writer J. Marshall Craig.
"MEGADETH was a big part of my story," Menza says, "but it was just one part. Jeff [Craig] has got me to talk about it all!"
Menza is currently negotiating a publishing deal for the book, which was written over the past 18 months. It features rare and never-before-seen photos of Menza with every band he's ever been in, including, of course, MEGADETH.
"It's a memoir of music," writer Craig says. "But a lot more. It's a book about chasing the ultimate gig, the ultimate drum setup, the ultimate sound and, it will come as no surprise to Nick's fans, the ultimate aliens, government conspiracies and anything else his muse sees fit to lay across his path."
Menza's first performance was at the age of two on stage at the Montreux Jazz Festival when legendary jazz percussionist Jack DeJohnette (Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson) placed Nick on his kit. Thirty years later, he was stepping out on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans every night.
Menza, son of legendary jazz saxophonist Don Menza, was at the top of his game when MEGADETH started a world tour in support of its album, "Cryptic Writings", but began to suffer knee problems and escalating pain. Doctors diagnosed him with a tumor. Surgery waylaid the drummer briefly, but he was relieved to learn the tumor was benign and was eager to rejoin his bandmates, who had continued their tour with a replacement drummer. But deteriorating relations within the band exploded and Menza was replaced permanently.
What does Nick have to say about it all now?
"Buy the book. It's all in there!"
"Nick Menza: Megalife", by J. Marshall Craig, is due in stores, in Kindle and eBook versions, in late 2013.
J. Marshall Craig is best known for his critically acclaimed work as writer for Eric Burdon's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", THE ROLLING STONES keyboardist Chuck Leavell's "Between Rock And A Home Place", West Coast hip-hop history "Guilty By Association" (Damizza and J. Marshall Craig). Author of more than a dozen books, his work has been translated and published all over the world.
Following the reissue of the entire MEGADETH catalog, Menza was invited to reunite with the band in 2004. Days after a reunion was announced, Menza was fired after rehearsals and replaced with Shawn Drover. Mustaine said that this was because Nick "just wasn't prepared."