MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson recently spoke to Tigman of Poughkeepsie, New York's Z93 radio station about the story leading to the creation of "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", the opening track of the band's 1990 album "Rust In Peace". Asked if the 1988 incident in question was the scariest thing he has ever encountered on the road, Ellefson replied: "Well, I was really drunk when it happened, so I was probably a little numb to what was going on.
"You know, it's interesting — Kristian Nairn, who plays Hodor on [the HBO fantasy series] 'Game Of Thrones', spoke very openly about that incident in my new book, 'More Life With Deth'," he continued. "I had a lot of people tell their MEGADETH stories throughout their life in my book, and he, of all people, was at that show as a young MEGADETH fan, and he talks very openly and clearly as he saw it in the audience. But I do remember… it was very polarizing. I mean, basically, think U2 with 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' — they wrote that song about the warring factions of the Protestants and the Catholics, the Irish and the English, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland.
"We were based in Southern Ireland, which is Dublin — a more Catholic faction and very friendly and peaceful. But, man, when we went up north, there was a hard border line… I remember the guns, and coming out of the immigration, they check your passport, and you really felt like you were going into a warzone. [MEGADETH frontman] Dave [Mustaine], he's not one to mince words onstage. And we were very unclear of what was happening — the whole thing with the IRA [Irish Republican Army]. And it was just a moment that, quite honestly, we were not very well educated on, and a comment was made, and suddenly all hell broke loose. They quickly escorted us off stage in a bullet-proof bus, and they said, 'You guys need to get out of here.' And we rolled out. And, yeah, the place got trashed, and it was just one of those things. I'll tell you one thing — it teaches you, when you travel, you can be an observer, but you really need to kind of watch your Ps and Qs and show up, play your songs, 'Thank you very much,' and then be on your way."
Mustaine told the U.K. magazine Guitarist that he was inspired to write "Holy Wars" when he discovered bootlegged T-shirts of his band were on sale in Northern Ireland and was dissuaded from taking action to have them removed on the basis that they were part of fundraising activities for "The Cause". But little did he know "The Cause" was a euphemism for the IRA, which at that time conducted terrorist attacks both in Northern Ireland and mainland Britain as it sought unification with Ireland.
Mustaine explained to Rolling Stone: "I saw people selling T-shirts in front of a venue and asked what it was about, and he said The Cause. And when the guy told me what it meant, he just said, 'Oh, it's just prejudiced religion. One religion thinks it's better than another religion. The Protestants think they're better than the Catholics.' And I went, 'Well, shit, I don't know if I'm either one of them, but I'm certainly not any one of those two because I don't judge other religions.' So at the concert, I introduced a song by saying, 'This one's for The Cause' from the stage and [whistles] wrong thing to say. I learned my lesson quick so I don't talk about religion anymore. [Laughs]"