Bob Nalbandian of the "Shockwaves"/"HardRadio" podcast recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A few excerpts from the chat follow below (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the title track of MEGADETH's new album, "Super Collider":
Mustaine: "I was up in Santa Barbara, and USA Today, as a newspaper, I started reading a long time ago because it had Sudoku in it. I'm not really down with a lot of the viewpoints of the newspaper, but I kind of got used to reading it because of the puzzles in it — 'cause I love word puzzles; I like to enrich my word power. And there was a story in there about how they finally had identified the mass that goes around the molecules and stuff; it's called the Higgs Boson and we had done that with the Super Collider. And I thought, 'Wow, that's a really cool story.' Actually, the stuff's called the 'God particle.' And I thought, knowing how closed-minded people are with my faith and thinking that that's gonna change who I am as a person — which it did — and that that would also correlate into changing my guitar playing, which it didn't, I didn't wanna have a song called 'God Particle', because every village has its idiots, and unfortunately for me, a bunch of them follow me on the Internet. So we opted to call it 'Super Collider'. And this first song is kind of, like, a song about no matter how bad things get, come with me, we'll take the high road and we'll hang out and have a great time and we'll stick together until the end of the world, so to speak, when the world explodes like a Super Collider. Because the whole theory of the super collider is atoms swirling into one another at millions of miles an hour, I guess. I love the concept, I love the artwork that we have for this record — it's the Hadron Collider, and that is a remarkable machine. And if you look at the Super Collider, the thing itself — whether it does a damn bit of good or not, nobody really knows; I don't know how it's gonna correlate to lowering gas prices or anything like that, or getting people to stop trying to run everybody's lives right now and the dumbing down of America… But it's really cool if you look at how big it is. A lot of pictures on the 'Net will show this enormous machinery and guys the size of ants next to it. And the one picture that we used for our cover was, like I said, the Hadron Collider and it's just beautiful stuff, man. Science is really interesting. I mean, I don't believe in evolution, I believe in creation, so science only goes so far with me, but I really dig looking at that whole way that's set up with the tubing and the piping and the reactors and all the stuff that goes along with it. You have to see it for yourself."
On how the switch in record labels before the recording of "Super Collider" affected the album's musical direction:
Mustaine: "The way that we tracked [the songs for the new album], when we were in the studio. We first went in there and we talked to [producer] Johnny [K] a little bit about what to do. I honestly did not have any songs written for this records; I had parts, but there were no songs. And knowing that we were getting signed to [new label] Universal and how big this deal was, going to CAA as our agent and being a Career Artists Management artist with [Irving] Azoff and his organization, being part of that whole Live Nation family and everything, man, it doesn't get any better than this. So the pressure was really on. No offense to [MEGADETH's former record label] Roadrunner; they served a purpose for us and there were a couple of people there that really were great people, and we look back with fondess on our time there, although we really feel respected now and where we belong now. Leading into this, prior to the label coming down and listening to the songs, there was a lot of anxiety and a lot of anticipation: 'Are we writing the right songs?' 'We're going back to a major label. Are they gonna want radio songs?' 'Are they gonna want MTV-type songs? VH1, Fuse, those kind of video songs and stuff?' 'Are they gonna understand little old MEGADETH?' And they came down last week and they heard [several of the] songs and really reacted strongly to them."
On the new MEGADETH song "Forget To Remember":
Mustaine: "My son Justis, who is in management up at Azoff's too, he said, 'You know, dad, somebody has a song called 'Forget To Remember'.' And I said, ' I don't care. It doesn't matter. [BLACK] SABBATH just named their record '13', for God's sake.' So that didn't make me wanna change the title of it. The song is actually about my mother in law, who has actually contracted Alzheimer's disease; I don't know if she contracted it or was diagnosed with it. The sad thing about Alzheimer's disease is it's like watching an ice sculpture of somebody you love melt in front of your eyes; it's really, really painful. So the song has a double entendre where there's a guy and he talks to a girl in the song and it's kind of like the movie 'The Notebook' where the character in the movie, the female, comes in and out of Alzheimer's and she is present and she is back in La La Land again. So you don't really know in this song if it's a girl that is intentionally trying to forget a relationship with a guy or if it's somebody who has Alzheimer's disease, which, really, is what it's about. I worded it so that it could be either way."
On working with producer Johnny K again:
Mustaine: "Johnny has definitely been a breath of fresh air. I did a lot of the tracking on this record. He had to go home to go and do another project, and I strongly supported him in doing that, because you've gotta treat people right in this business. People that know me that the reputation that I have is bullshit and that I'm a totally different person from what people say I am. And when he said that he needed to go and do this other project, I was right there with him. I said, 'You've gotta take care of these guys. You've gotta keep your word. You've gotta do the right thing.' And so he went. And I hooked up with a guy named Cameron Webb, who is producing the new MOTÖRHEAD record right now. [He was] a great engineer for this project; he's a great producer in his own right. And we hit it off and we worked for three weeks straight cutting all the basic tracks for this record."
On whether the other members of MEGADETH have gotten more involved in the songwriting process for the new album:
Mustaine: "Chris [Broderick, guitar] has gotten more involved in the songwriting, Shawn's [Drover, drums] still kind of at the same degree, although we haven't finished all the lyrics [at the time of the interview]. But Shawn, he's just happy to be here. David Ellefson [bass] has submitted a bunch of music, and at this point, right now, I think that with his… One of his strong suits is lyrics, so we've got a few more [sets of] lyrics we need to work on. And I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with the band guys in that area, 'cause I've already sang nine of the 14 songs."
On Mustaine's new label, Tradecraft, which is distributed by Universal Music Enterprises (UMe):
Mustaine: "When we got offered to go to Universal… Andy Gould is a famous rock manager; he used to manage PANTERA and he manages ROB ZOMBIE right now. And Andy had gone over to Universal and said, 'Roadrunner is the only game in town for metal. What would you think if I brought ROB ZOMBIE here and if I told you I think I can do MEGADETH stuff from over here?' And we said, 'We're in.' So he's got his own label — it's called T-Boy, 'cause he used to be the guy that would make tea for THE BEATLES; that's why he's the 't-boy.' And a couple of times I had heard that people said that I was signed to Rob's label. And it's, like, 'No, I'm not.' I'm signed to Universal. And when the contract came down, they were so happy with us and with everything, the way that it was going, they said, 'Hey, you want your own imprint? We could do that.' And I thought this would be great, because it would be a great way for MEGADETH to put down some foundation for this label to make some relationships and stuff if the time comes where we go into a bit of a hiatus. I don't know that that's gonna happen right now, because everything's going so great for us."
On the new MEGADETH song "Dance In The Rain":
Mustaine: "When I first started MEGADETH, I'd come back from New York [after getting fired from METALLICA], and I was pretty pissed and I didn't know if I wanted to keep playing music, I didn't know if I could, I didn't know if I should, but something inside of me was driving me. Later I identified it as revenge, but at the time, I thought it was just anger. And there was a guy that met when I first put together the band. Whether it was called MEGADETH in the beginning or not has no relevance; the band, I started it when I first came back. That was the beginning of MEGADETH. I met this guy, this nutty guy named Robbie… I don't know what his last name was. So anyway… He was playing these really weird chords that I used in the song 'Looking Down The Cross'. And I was always really interested in those chords. And I was kind of goofing around a little bit and came up with the progression that ended up being the embodiment of the verses for 'Dance In The Rain'. And the funny thing about this song was I had asked David Draiman from DISTURBED.. We did some tour dates together and an opportunity came up for us to kind of collaborate on some stuff. And he came out and we kind of goofed around a little bit. We didn't really end up doing a lot of stuff together, but there's a couple of little tidbits of ideas that he gave me that we're using on this record. We'd gone out to Pei Wei to go have lunch. We were done with our stuff and he [went] back to the airport. I've got a really bad sweet tooth, so I grabbed a fistful of fortune cookies. I grabbed a fortune cookie and I threw the fortune down, I grabbed another one, and I threw the fortune down. And I picked them up in the reverse order that I opened them [in]. This was really important, 'cause the one I picked up first was actually the second one I opened, and that one said, 'Learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the sun.' Something like that. And the first one said, 'An unexpected random gift is coming to you immediately.' So if I would have opened it right, it would have said, 'An unexpected gift is coming to you. Learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the sun.' And I was, like, 'Oh my God! That is so cool.' I don't believe in luck and all that stuff — I believe things happen for a reason — but I've gotta tell you, man [laughs] — I sure believe in that fortune cookie."
On the new MEGADETH song "The Blackest Crow":
Mustaine: "The slide guitar is something that I played a long time ago when I was in PANIC and I never got a chance to use it in METALLICA, 'cause we just weren't doing that, but I did have Southern influences, and that's 100 percent apparent when you look at what I wrote with [the METALLICA demo song] 'Mechanix', and then when we changed that and it became 'The Four Horsemen', the part that I showed James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] was 'Sweet Home Alabama'. 'Cause I was a [LYNYRD] SKYNYRD fan. I mean, I wasn't a dyed-in-the-wool, bell-bottom-wearing Southern guy, but I liked their music and I really dug the brawniness of their music. So, yeah, I do like Southern rock. One of my favorite guitar players, when he first came out, was when Zakk Wylde first came on the scene. I thought he was just like the perfect, all-around rock guitar player — the way his image was, the way he dressed, the way he played, the way he looked, the way he acted. And I guess we all kind of change and grow up and grow old and grow apart and grow tired, or this or that, and there's always gonna be a new young gunslinger on the scene that's gonna come in and that's gonna make you forget your heroes. But that's one of the things I liked about Zakk and he made such a great impression on me when he came on the scene. There's not a lot of guitar players like him."
On the new MEGADETH song "Burn":
Mustaine: "'Burn' is, obviously, about fire. The song is about somebody who's got a questionable past, and rather than doing the obvious, what most people do, lying about it, he just burns it up. There is no proof; there is just a bunch of ashes behind him. And if people try and figure out what this guy is about, they need to sift through the ashes to try and find any proof. I am not an arsonist — I don't condone lighting fires and stuff like that, so I don't want anybody to get the wrong message — but it's basically about somebody who's got a questionable past and is trying to make a new start, but he's doing it in a very questionable way. Now, the cool part about it is, Chris and I were gonna try to figure out who would do what solo. The solo in the middle of the song, I had basically set out for him, but something had happened and the part that he had done didn't really sound the way that I wanted it. So I just a guide thing I was gonna show him and I just did it and it's the one we ended up keeping. 'Cause I started playing. I said, 'Just start slow and just keep going faster and faster and faster and faster. At some point, you're gonna double up on the beat so that you're gonna be going against the beat and then you're gonna catch up to it again and then you're gonna pass it.' The solo literally burns during that part; it's just a super, super fast solo. Which is always fun — if you can pull it off and it's clean and it works, it's always great to do stuff like that."
On the new MEGADETH song "King Maker":
Mustaine: "[That song] is about the epidemic we're having in our nation right now with hillbilly heroin, with everybody taking pain pills. It's no secret that I had surgery on my neck. I think that when I showed up at the 'Big Four' show [at the Yankee stadium in September 2011] with a neck brace on, people kind of figured out that there was something wrong with me. It turns out that I had a broken bone in my neck and a shard of my vertebrae got into my spinal cord and was causing me tremendous pain for a very long time. I had started taking pain pills and became chemically dependent on it. With my substance abuse history, it was really hard for me to go from being an addict and an alcoholic and then getting set free from all that stuff. 'Cause I went to the whole twelve-step thing, which was really beneficial for me, but unfortunately, for me it wasn't an anonymous program; I would go in there and whatever I would say, people would talk about. So it really violated my anonymity. It's also a program that is based on God, but when I would talk about God in there, they would say, 'Ah, G.O.D. stands for Group Of Drunks.' And it's, like, 'No, it doesn't. Can't you spell, you retard? That's why you're in here.' But at the time, it was very influential in my life and very important and I respect it tremendously and I wish anybody who needs a twelve-step program will find one ... The song 'King Maker' is about how people are running from their problems… And there's a lot of that on this particular record — just looking at, like, 'Here's what I've got. What are you gonna do with it?' It's talking a lot about this generation, how people, their lives are falling apart and they just take pills. Instead of sucking up and doing what I did and going and getting the surgery and getting off the medication, they'll continue to just trudge it out until the end of their life where they just take pills until their body is eaten… And the other thing that's part of that song is talking about how when you take these things how they make you feel different. Some people, they get into that 'cause they like the way it makes you feel, 'cause it makes you kind of feel warm and fuzzy. In the song, it talks about wanting to fly and being ten feet tall. Booze does that to some people. And this is just something that, I think, if there is a way that I can help educate a lot of our fans, especially the younger ones that still have their whole life ahead of them, it's not as glamorous as you think it is to go down that path of just checking it out and drugging yourself up and not facing reality… Part of what 'King Maker' means to me is that I am able to look back now on this whole episode of my life, being a slave to Big Pharma. You have no idea what a pain in the ass it was. In order to travel to go overseas, and I needed the medication with me, to know that if my backpack would have been stolen and my medication would have been gone, that I would have gone into serious withdrawals and been hospitalized and the tour would have been over. That kind of stuff; it's horrifying. And my heart goes out to the people that are stuck in that vicious circle and slavery to narcotics. Granted, you need it if you're in pain, but… The problem, too, is because of the way that the social networking has gotten right now, celebrities who have a lot of leverage and a lot of ability to be able to share information with people because of their leverage, we can really do a lot of good by educating people. But after the last couple of episodes I've had with saying stuff and having people trying to attack me. I mean, I'm not afraid of anybody, but the point where you say stuff and it's totally misconstrued and then you start seeing young fans that really look up to you questioning what you said when it's, like, 'But that's not what I said. It's totally taken out of context.' So you end up not saying stuff."