“Symphony of Destruction” might not be a symphony as Mozart would have known it, but it was a song that propelled Megadeth’s 1992 album, Countdown to Extinction, to double platinum status. Now Megadeth, led as always by singer, songwriter, and guitarist Dave Mustaine, has released its 14th album, Super Collider.
Some of the songs have typical Mustaine lyrics, looking at politicians with a jaundiced eye and chafing at authority. But other songs delve into more personal issues, such as “Forget to Remember,” which deals with Mustaine’s mother-in-law’s Alzheimer's diagnosis. Mustaine joins us in the studio to discuss some of those personal themes -- and some surprising influences.
Dave Mustaine, on having to undergo neck surgery due to the physicality of his performances:
If you look at the Big 4 members, three of us have had neck surgery. The only other person is [Joey] Belladonnna from Anthrax, and he’s been in and out of the band a lot, so he doesn’t really have the same wear and tear on him that the three of us did …. It’s a lot more involved than people think. They think it’s all getting up there and you sing a couple songs and there’s chicks and champagne and stuff like that. It’s hard work.
On the difficulties of being placed on pain medication having overcome addictions:
I had to go through the whole pain pill process while the surgery was getting set up. It was pretty scary. And then stopping, knowing that you have kind of a taste for it. It’s like having sex with a gorilla: you’re not done ‘til the gorilla’s done. Not that I’ve ever done it — that I remember.
On his reservations about performing country music, despite Southern influences on “The Blackest Crow”:
[Ron Keel] was in a band called Steeler, with Yngwie [Malmsteen] a long time ago, and he went from having Blackie Lawless hair to putting on a Stetson. You can’t go from being a cucumber to a pickle and go back to being a cucumber at any time. You know what I mean? Once you go from metal and you become a country guy, trying to go back to metal again is pretty impossible.
On playing with Paraguay's “Recycled Orchestra” -- a group comprised of children who perform with instruments made from materials found in landfills:
These kids are playing violins made out of paint treys, where you use a roller. They’ve got cellos and stand-up basses made out of barrels from oil and kerosene barrels. The necks of the guitars are made out of boards, and the tuners are made out of combs, and the bridge where the string’s hooked to is a bent fork…. This by far was the coolest assembly of musicians in an orchestra kind of environment. They’re success stories.