MEGADETH drummer Dirk Verbeuren spoke to MetalSucks's "The Quarantinecast" about the progress of the recording sessions for the band's follow-up to 2016's "Dystopia" album. He said (see video below): "What happened is, basically, last year, I would go back [to Nashville] a little bit for [the songwriting sessions]. We got together for about three months in the summer to work on a bunch of demos we had and put down some new ideas. So we were for three months together in Nashville [working on] music before we had to cancel our shows the rest of that year so [MEGADETH mainamn Dave Mustaine] could just really focus on getting better [after being diagnosed with throat cancer], doing the treatment, healing [and] resting — that needed to be done. And then the plan was, obviously, to finish that up earlier this year and get the album out and tour. But then the pandemic happened, so what we decided to do is just focus on the record. So, as soon as it was possible to kind of safely travel at this time — I'm talking a few months back — and if he didn't have a lot of cases where Dave Mustaine lives… So even though I was a little bit reluctant to travel, I decided to just make it a road trip. So since I didn't wanna fly, I just got a rental car and drove from L.A. to Nashville, spent about 10 days there recording the drum tracks for the record. David [Ellefson, bass] at the same time was there doing the bass, so we got that done. And now Dave Mustaine is working on the guitars. And Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] is in Europe currently, 'cause he went to see his wife's family in Europe after our last tour in February and kind of got stuck there. So as soon as he can come back to the States, as traveling is opening up hopefully soon — we'll see — he's gonna come and record his guitar parts. So that's where we're at."
Verbeuren confirmed that extra precautions were taken to protect Mustaine from contracting the novel coronavirus. The MEGADETH guitarist/vocalist reportedly underwent 51 radiation treatments and nine chemotherapy treatments before being declared "100 percent" cancer-free last October.
"We did get together in the studio, at Blackbird studios in Nashville, to do the drum and bass tracking, and Dave was also there, but we were all very cautious the whole time, and we made sure that if anybody felt anything whatsoever, they wouldn't show up," Dirk explained. "It was pretty much a closed session. So it was all set up to be especially cautious around him, but just in general. I'm sure you, like me, have been observing the strictest rules you possibly can. I don't go out without a mask. I mean, it's a time wjere you just have to do what's right."
Asked if there was any talk of MEGADETH possibly recording the new album remotely, Dirk said: "We definitely discussed the option of doing it remotely, but Dave is not a fan of that; he's never really worked that way. He's co-producing the album with Chris Rakestraw, who also worked on 'Dystopia'.
"Dave is a little bit of the conductor of the orchestra in the room, so he's not this annoying presence at all," the drummer said. "He's more just very involved with everything that's happening at the right time. So as an example, when we were doing the drum tracking, it's not like he was sitting there watching me play every beat, because sometimes he'd have other things that he'd have to go do. But as soon as I laid something down, [we'd tell him], 'Hey, Dave, the song is ready. Come check it out. What do you think?' And he'd come in and he'd give great feedback. Sometimes he'd be, like, 'This is awesome — keeper.' Other times, he'd be, like, 'Hey, how about you try this here?' He has a great vision, obviously, of MEGADETH, as we can all imagine. It's really something that's so close to his heart that he's so intimately familiar with every little detail of what everybody's played on each album throughout the years. So he knows exactly what works and what doesn't. And in that sense, as much as I was, like, 'Oh, for safety reasons, it might be better if I record here and we discussed it,' at the same time, it makes more sense, just the way this band has been its entire existence, to do it together. So we made it work."
MEGADETH's new album is tentatively due in early 2021.
Mustaine recently told SiriusXM's Jose Mangin that the upcoming MEGADETH album will be "up there with 'Countdown [To Extinction]', 'Rust In Peace' and probably 'Peace Sells' and 'Dystopia'."
The effort will be MEGADETH's first to feature Verbeuren (ex-SOILWORK), who joined the band four years ago.
As previously reported, MEGADETH's North American tour with LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM and IN FLAMES has been rescheduled for 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.