Press Conference   

We’re not done hearing about Megadeth

The last few years, we never really stopped talking about Megadeth, and for good reasons: first Dave Ellefson’s comme back, then the Big Four concerts, the Rust In Peace anniversary tour, and finally the new album, TH1RT3EN. Megadeth is still very busy: even if the new record has been out for a year, there was still plently of topics left to talk about at the band’s last press conference at the Hellfest 2012.

The first one was the great probability to see something special to celebrate the 20 years of one of the band’s greatest success, Countdown To Extinction. Megadeth played Rust In Peace in its entirety, so why not Countdown To Extinction? Dave Mustaine, without giving any details, talked about some kind of celebration: “It is the 20th anniversary of Coutdown and we are preparing something for this. We’re starting out, we’re gonna do an anniversary trip around the world with festivals and so on.” And there’s more; Megadeth is working on what’s coming next: “We’re getting ready to do an other record and we’ll be back in the studio writing and recording stuff soon.”

On a more tangible note, the guitar player/singer gives us an insight on the band’s everyday life explaining how a Megadeth setlist is made up: “I go on and look at the setlist from the night before, and we say ‘maybe we should add this song.’ Sometimes the set has to be a bit longer, sometimes we’re on a festival and it will have to be 60 minutes, but here we’re playing 90 minutes so we have to add more songs. Sometimes when we play we are a song too short, so we look at the songs on the setlist, and you just have a feeling… sometimes, a song kinda tells you that it wanna be played. Every band has a color, a typical feeling people would say, for instance some bands are dark by nature, and if somehow it is all black metal here tonight, we probably shouldn’t play something slow [laughs]. We kind of figured it out for tonight.”.

On a less joyous topic, Dave Mustaine gave some insight on what happened lately in Croatia. As a reminider, the band had to leave the stage because people were throwing various items at them: “They weren’t angry at us. I have nothing against the Croatian fans, I’m not mad about what happened. What happened was something between the production from WASP and our production. There was a disagreement and eventually WASP decided not to play. It wasn’t our fault. I like WASP, Blackie [Lawless, singer-guitar player] and I are friends, I don’t know why they didn’t play. We talked to him and even him didn’t know what happened.” Surprisingly, Mustaine answered benevolently to the anger of the public towards the band: “I understand that if you go to see a concert to see a band and they’re not there, if you don’t understand what happened and think that that top guy kicked them of, that’s fucked up. I myself am not so much of a pussy than I’d throw rocks, I would have handled it differently. I love the Croatian fans, I have complete forgiveness for what happened.”

Mustaine was very calm, very different from the hot tempered guy he has been known to be. Stuck in the traffic and thus 45 minutes late, he lightened the atmosphere as soon as he came in: “First, I would say thank you for everybody being here, we’re really happy to be in France. The soccer game is postponed, I don’t know if you guys watch football or anything but good luck for tonight. We’re glad to be here and to play here.” A few humorous questions about the band’s polished image, elegant members and nice hair bursted out, questions the band answered casually and lightheartedly. To the necessary “What kind of shampoo do you use?”, Dave Ellefson answered : “It’s the French rain! [laughs]”. Even if they admit festivals have their own specific charm eventual rain and mud included, we can tell they prefer indoors facilities: “It doesn’t rain [laughs].”

It’s in this relaxed way that he displays enthusiastically his friendship with his long-term bandmate Dave Ellefson, going as far as giving the bass player a few affectionate hugs to entertain the journalists. Mustaine spoke very enthusiastically about Megadeth’s current line-up: “When David Ellson came back to Megadeth, Chris Broderick was already playing guitar with me and Shawn Drover was playing drums, and I told him ‘you’re probably not gonna believe that, but they’re two of the best musicians I’ve played with.’ Because Chris can play Marty perfectly. He didn’t play the same solos every night, because he would bring his own stuff. He has the artistic liberty to go in and out of what was the solo. I do that too myself. Chris does the same solo every night. He was learning ‘High Speed Dirt’ for the Countdown tour and I said ‘how are you doing with the solo?’ because we had just started yesterday, and he was like ‘I’ve got the most of it, I can play it tonight.’ I asked him to play it for me and he just played the whole thing. I just looked at him. That’s part of the reason I worked him there, because when you have somebody that’s a partner with you, that’s that talented, that doesn’t know it… I believe that he knows he’s very talented but he’s very humble, it’s like Shawn. Shawn is so shy. I told him ‘you have to stand up between songs!’ but you see him, he’s playing with his heart on.”

Regarding its fan-base, the band sees it as a big family, an entity that the same love for music brought together: “There isn’t really any difference between any metal fans. We’re all fans of the same music. Just because we live in different places and we speak a different langage doesn’t mean anything.We still have the same kind of feeling that drives us to metal music. […] The fans all around the world are almost alike. Just languages and things but metal music is our thing and whatever religions, politics, local problems may be; people come out for the festivities. The music is bigger than the politics. It’s bigger than the religions. It’s bigger than the personal problems in any particular country. It’s international, that’s what we love about it. One of the things that Dave and I do enjoy in Megadeth for almost 30 years now is everywhere we go, wherever we show up our fans are there and they’re the same everywhere we go. […] We don’t act like rockstars. We are, by definition, but we’re pretty normal. I got sneakers and I wear blue jeans. I think that’s the thing: wherever we go, we fit in. We’re mainly different because of our borders and boundaries but the music is the same, the reaction is always the same. You can cheer differently and you hear the accent, you have some weird sounds, but different audiences react differently. We’re really grateful for the things that have happened to us in different countries.”

Nonetheless, Dave Mustaine didn’t lose his infamous frankness, for instance talking about younger bands: “The problem with new bands is that they all scream, and I’m a singer, and I come from a generation where you play songs and you hear the melody and then you can play a rhythm with your right hand. If you have to, it doesn’t have to be detuned so that there is no sound coming from the guitar. So many bands detune so low right now, there’s no tonality. And frankly you know, I’ve already got these voices screaming in my head and at the end of the day I think that I don’t wanna hear about new ones!”. He also confesses not having that much time to listen to music anyway: “[I’ve got an iPad,] I just brought it and I was looking for some exercise videos in there because I had surgery on my neck, I just finished the healing process and started working out again. That’s the reason I got one. I’m not really listening to music during the day because I’m really busy, being in Megadeth is a full-time job. Trust me, we’re here laughing, but you have no ideas how many interviews we do. I can’t believe how many people have heard me talk!”

On a more positive note, the band speaks to the new generation of musicians: “Trying to explain to somebody this lifestyle isn’t easy and I know I didn’t make great choices in my own life. I’m kinda getting at it right now, and I don’t feel like I should tell people how to live their lives. As far as guitar playing is concerned, I would say don’t play the guitar like it’s something soft, but beat the shit out of it!”

At the end of the conference, after sating the audience’s curiosity speaking about various non-music related topics such as their love for live sports casts, their sadness regarding the political events in Syria, or Dave Ellefson distance-learning classes at Concordia Seminary (St. Louis), Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine ended on a long-term vision :

“Megadeth will be a part of me until the end. I’m not that proud that I won’t know when to stop. I see certain people in other bands from the 60s’ or the 70s’ that are still up touring. Some do really well, nobody ever says anything about Bruce Springsteen, and Bruce is really old. Nobody says it because it’s cool and he looks cool when he plays. Everybody says things about Mick Jager like he’s dead. That’s really terrible stuff to have said about people. I don’t wanna have this said about me! If we can stay cool like the Boss is, we’ll keep playing. But if not, we’ll know when to stop.”

Interview conducted on the 15th of June 2012, during Megadeth’s press conference at the Hellfest festival.
Transcription : Chloé
Photo : http://planetmosh.com

Megadeth’s website : www.megadeth.com

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