During an appearance on the latest episode of Doc Coyle's (GOD FORBID, BAD WOLVES) "The Ex Man" podcast, MEGADETH drummer Dirk Verbeuren spoke about how he came to join the band four years ago. Prior to Dirk's addition to the group, then-LAMB OF GOD drummer Chris Adler had performed all the drums on MEGADETH's latest album, "Dystopia", and had toured with MEGADETH when not otherwise busy with his full-time band.
Asked if it's true that Adler had recommended Verbeuren for the MEGADETH gig, Dirk said (hear audio below): "It's a complicated story. [Chris] reached out to me the first about it — he texted me about it without being specific — but the official story that it was all Chris Adler who recommended me to the band, eh, that's not really the real deal. I'm not gonna get into detail about it, 'cause I don't really wanna throw anybody under the bus or anything like that. But anyways, the connection was made. Because when somebody like Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH leader] is looking for, whether it's somebody for his crew or a new musician or whatever, he puts out a bunch of feelers with a bunch of different people. And I guess I was on many people's lists somehow, and it kind of converged then to that I got the call. And initially I was only supposed to be filling in for Chris, who was still in the band at the time, but that quickly turned into a full-time gig offer, because there were some issues happening. Obviously, Chris being in LAMB OF GOD and MEGADETH at the same time was an issue, which is very easy to understand. Because having two bands like that, even if they are on the same management, it's gonna be really hard to make that happen. And then, of course, somebody like Dave, and even [MEGADETH bassist] David Ellefson, guys who have been around since the early '80s, I don't know that their thing is really to have a guy who's gonna be available part time. I think they kind of feel like, 'Yeah, we have the right to have our full-time drummer.' [Laughs] It kind of makes sense. So that's kind of how it came about. A bunch of people made lists of people that they thought could fit the gig, and it turned out that… I knew some people, like Tony Laureano [MEGADETH's] drum tech, is a longtime friend of mine, 'cause SCARVE [Dirk's former band] toured with NILE many years before, and we stayed in touch. I had met [current MEGADETH guitarist] Kiko [Loureiro] before, and he had recommended me many times, because he was a big SOILWORK fan, he's a big SOILWORK fan, and he always liked what I did. And there were a few other people as well. So it kind of just converged to, all of a sudden, I'm on tour with SOILWORK, and I get a call that Dave Mustaine wants to talk to me, which was, like, 'Excuse me?' [Laughs]"
Asked if he had to audition for the MEGADETH gig, Dirk said: "I guess the audition was when I talked to Dave on the phone [laughs], which was, like, probably about a five-minute call — he asked me a few questions. And I think, pretty much, they just looked at videos online. I know they looked at this video I posted from the studio with Devin [Townsend], and a few other things, and I think they were just, like, 'Yeah, based on this, it shouldn't be an issue, drumming-wise.'"
The 45-year-old Belgian-born-and-now-Los-Angeles-based drummer continued: "I know the DREAM THEATER [drummer] audition was the famous thing with the videos and all that, and that was a cool concept 'cause it gave fans a cool thing to watch and all these amazing drummers, but I think a lot of times, these bands that are established, such as MEGADETH and stuff, they don't really have the time or the energy to really go audition people. They just kind of work their contacts and whatever comes up, they'll give it a shot.
"Being prepared was, of course, paramount when you get a call like MEGADETH, which is an established band, a big band," he added. "It's something where, even if you're gonna do one show with them, you want that show to be absolutely amazing — you want them to all be happy with you, and not fail that at all. So I had about 10 days after coming home from the SOILWORK tour, so, of course, during those 10 days, I ate, breathed and slept with MEGADETH, and all I did was listen to those songs. And I made my charts, which is a really important part of my life as a session drummer — being able to chart out songs. First of all, song structures; also then beats and fills and stuff in an efficient way where I can just put a sheet in front of me, or next to me, or whatever, and have that as a cheat sheet in case I have a blackout, which can happen when you're learning 18 songs in 10 days — you can have a moment when you're first playing with the guys and you're, like, 'Oh my God! Dave Mustaine is right in front of me. What part is next?' So then you just glance over at your sheet. So being prepared was really — everything I did all those years up till then really paid off when I did my one and only rehearsal before my first show with MEGADETH. I came with all my sheets of the songs, and David Ellefson saw me and he's, like, 'Oh, good work. You came prepared.' So that already gave me a little bit of confidence — he noticed that I did my homework. And then the rehearsal well, because we didn't even play the whole set. After eight songs or something, Dave was, like, 'Okay, it's fine. You're good. We'll do the show tomorrow.' [Laughs] I was, like, 'Okay.' [Laughs]"
Verbeuren had been playing with SOILWORK for more than a decade before joining MEGADETH as the replacement for Adler, who called Dirk "probably [one of the] top three drummers in the world."
In interview with the KATT Rock 100.5 FM radio station, Mustaine described Dirk as "one of the most pleasant, easy-to-get-along-with guys I've ever met in my life. I'll walk up to him and he'll smile and lean forward and pat me on the back. He goes [adopts thin accent], 'How's it going, buddy?' I could say, 'Oh, man…'… anything. 'Oh, okay, buddy.' [He] smiles and pats me, 'cause he's just a happy guy. I've never, ever, ever seen him not smile."