When MEGADETH was honored with its first-ever Grammy last Sunday night (February 12), the band's walk up to the stage was inexplicably accompanied by the sound of the house ensemble playing the song "Master Of Puppets" from MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine's former band METALLICA.
Mustaine was fired from METALLICA in 1983 — some three years before "Master Of Puppets" was released — over substance abuse and anger issues. Although he later conceded that he was "bitter" for a period of time after being dismissed, he insisted that any perceived feud with his former bandmates was an illusion.
Asked by Radio.com what he thought when the house band started playing METALLICA, Mustaine said: "You know what? I didn't even notice it. It just sounded like some music in the background. The funny thing is that when I went back and listened to my acceptance speech, and I heard the song, I was, like, 'Wow!' Everyone was asking me, 'What about the METALLICA thing?' And I said, 'I didn't hear it, I just saw it.' 'How could you not have heard it?' I didn't know what they were talking about. I thought that they were talking about METALLICA's performance. Because we split [after the pre-televised awards]. By the time they did their thing with Lady Gaga, we were across the street eating dinner. So I went back and listened to my acceptance speech and I went, 'Wow!'"
He continued: "I didn't mind them playing it at all, it's a house band, and they're doing cover songs. They were probably saying, 'We don't know any MEGADETH songs. How about if we do a METALLICA song?' But when I went back and listened to it, I was, like, 'Oh my God! That's the worst version of 'Master Of Puppets' I've ever heard in my life!'"
When the interviewer pointed out to Mustaine that the house "house band seemed to be playing pretty random songs," Mustaine agreed: "They could've done a Cyndi Lauper song! [Laughs] I was just happy to be up there. It's about being recognized."
He added: "We all want so badly, when we pick our careers as kids, to be the best at what we do, and when you choose to be a musician, the stakes are much different. The way they 'grade' us, the way they hold us in esteem, how you tell who is better than who."
Mustaine also once again reiterated his desire to see MEGADETH one day be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but he stressed that it's not "a be-all, end-all thing." He explained: "You work hard, there are certain awards that are achievable, why not strive to achieve them? It's not like if I don't win, my life is incomplete. With METALLICA being in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame already, in a way, I'm in [the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame]. But I would like to get my band in there so that it's all of us, and I can stand there with my bandmates and we can high-five and hug and all that kind of stuff. Last weekend at the Grammys, it was fun to say, 'We did it!'"
He added: "We just recently got this CLIO Award for creative marketing [for the 'Dystopia' Virtual Reality Experience], and there's another award called the Genesis Awards from the Humane Society Of The United States and they presented us with the Doris Day Award [for producing work which raises public awareness of animal issues]. We've got some awards that other bands will never get!"
The members of METALLICA have been mostly respectful while discussing their onetime member, with guitarist Kirk Hammett saying on a podcast last fall: "I've always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry, really frustrated about his situation with METALLICA, and he never could let that go. And, you know, I've always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off. It's the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you."
MEGADETH recently completed a month-long U.S. tour with AMON AMARTH, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, METAL CHURCH and BUTCHER BABIES.