MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine says that the band's new album, "Dystopia", "wouldn't have turned out as good" as it did had MEGADETH gone through with its attempted reunion of the group's classic "Rust In Peace" lineup.
Mustaine tried to re-team with drummer Nick Menza and guitarist Marty Friedman for the making of "Dystopia", but instead ended up recording the album with longtime bassist David Ellefson and MEGADETH's latest additions, Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro, best known for his work with ANGRA, and LAMB OF GOD drummer Chris Adler.
Speaking to the Syracuse, New York radio station 95X this past week about the writing and recording process for "Dystopia" following the 2014 departures of drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick, Mustaine said (hear audio at this location): "Well, we had a lot of fun making this record. It started… The embryonic stage of this record was with Chris and Shawn, but there was a lot of really sad stuff that had happened between those two guys and our management [at the time], and something that David Ellefson had said that caused them to leave."
He continued: "When we tried to go through with the 'Rust In Peace' lineup change, it just… it wasn't meant to be. So going through that whole upheaval; and two management changes over the course of a year, which is really difficult; my mother-in-law in the final stages of Alzheimer's [disease] and then her going missing for two months before we found her after she had died; that was a lot of crap to go through. So I'm in [my home state of] Tennessee trying to piece together the rest of the record, and I kind of went from this place where I was sad about all this stuff that was happening to where I got really motivated. For some stupid reason, I clicked on this motivational audio track that was online, and it just had all these really great quotes and stuff from fight flicks I'd watched as a kid and movies of battles and stuff. And I just thought, 'You know what? I'm not gonna let anybody tell me what I can and can't do. I'm gonna be the arbiter of the limitations in my life.' And that's when we set out to do this record."
Asked if would agree that there seems to be more excitement about "Dystopia" than there has been about a new MEGADETH record in a long time, Mustaine said: "I definitely agree with that. I think that it could be contributable to the lineup change; it could have been contributable to the decision to not go backwards in time; but I guarantee you that it wouldn't have turned out as good with Nick and Marty as it would have with Kiko and Chris. Because it's just… Going and seeing those guys [Nick and Marty], seeing where they were, seeing their condition and how they play now and what they play, it still would have been 'Dystopia', but it would have been a different record. And I think that the expectations of people would have been so high and so unrealistic."
He went on to say: "This is a fresh start for us. People were surprised. Everyone that heard that Chris was in the band was surprised. Everyone, when they found out about Kiko, they were, like, 'Who the hell is this guy?' And when they started looking him up, they were going, 'Mustaine did it again; he picked another winner.' And I'm just excited, because, you know, I don't think I'm special, I just know what I like, and I think that's why our fans have such a good relationship with me, because I'm just a normal dude that knows what he likes."
On the topic of whether there was an "adjustment period" following the addition of Kiko and Chris Adler to MEGADETH, Mustaine said: "It did change a lot of things. I think that, for whatever reason, when you have management… You know the NO DOUBT video, the 'don't speak one word,' [where] the dude kind of singles the chick out and the other three guys kind of get pushed off to the side of the road? That usually happens with just about every band that ever existed — where the manager will come in and they'll find the main songwriter and try and break 'em away from the band. And that happened with… Just about every manager we've ever had has tried to come in and separate me from the other guys in the group. That happened with the band when Nick and Marty were in the band, it happened when Chris and Shawn Drover were in the band. It's just one of those sad things that… The management comes in and they think that, 'We're really gonna focus on Dave,' and that's all cool, but, you know, we're a band. So when you start alienating other guys, it just causes unnecessary problems. Now, I look back at all of our alumni, and I have nothing but respect for all of 'em."
Menza claimed in a 2015 interview that the attempted reunion of MEGADETH's "Rust In Peace" lineup failed to materialize because Mustaine "didn't wanna show me any love at all."
The drummer said that he was approached by Mustaine and Ellefson to replace Drover at the end of 2014, and that he had started working out new tracks with the band. But the plan collapsed after he was offered a contract he described as "very unfair."
Speaking to Canadian journalist Mitch Lafon, Nick said: "I tried to make it happen by all my means and efforts, I tried to make it go down, but they just didn't wanna show me any love at all, is really what it boils down. You know, I don't need to do this. I wanted to."
He went on to say: "We should have done an album this time. I was ready. I was out there recording with Dave, new songs, and we played a bunch of old songs for a weekend in San Diego, and then no agreement was put on the table for me — nothing in writing. I'm, like, 'Dude, I'm not coming back until you give me a contract and some kind of agreement here.' And they wouldn't produce that. So… If you don't wanna split the profits with me on the tour, forget it. I've got other stuff I can do that's more exciting to me."
"Dystopia" will be released on January 22 via Universal Music Enterprises / Tradecraft / T-Boy Records. The follow-up to 2013's "Super Collider" was recorded last year in Nashville, Tennessee and was produced by Mustaine. The CD was mixed by Josh Wilbur, who has previously worked with LAMB OF GOD, ALL THAT REMAINS and GOJIRA.