Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and Deve Ellefson Set Their Clocks for Judgment Day
Countdown took four months to record, beginning to end. On the subject of songwriting, I ask whether a consistent line-up lends itself to the democratic process. Mustaine answers.
"The first line-up we had would probably still be here if we hadn't got into extra-curricular activities of sniffing powders. With this record we have all done some writing, but it wasn't a spot in our careers where we could jeopardise letting everybody write everything."
Guitarist Marty Friedman has borne the brunt of 'widdling' crticisms in the past. Mustaine, however, is quick to his defence.
"Actually, on the album, the solos that Marty did were brilliant. He was willing to take direction and because of my understanding of what soul is and my incapability to actually do what I think, I can tell him and he can translate it into guitar."
The actual tunes recorded confirm all suspicions that Megadeth have much more to offer than a holocaust of speed. Mustaine's voice in particular has excelled. Foreclosure Of A Dream is one for which Ellefson wrote the lyrics and is inspired by a personal family upheaval. It struck me as having an anti-Reganonmics era theme. Ellefson answers in the affirmative.
"I already had an idea based on something that happened to my family's lifestyle in middle America. That's where I got the inspiration. Basically their dreams were foreclosed upon because of money. Musically, it totally sent a chill up my spine 'cos it was something pretty different for us to do."
With an opening line of "Hello me... Meet the real me," the latest single Sweating Bullets is cited as Mustaine coming to grips with his self diagnosed schizophrenia.
"We all have that side," reasons Mustaine. "A lot of musicians sing about the happier side of life and the reality is that we have to live life on life's terms, and it's not always that keen. We all live in here," he says, pointing to his head. "This goes with you everywhere and a lot of the time you end up talking or thinking to yourself."
The title track, a mid-paced epic, features the trademark Mustaine snarl. "We wrote it about endangered species, which is so touchy. We could have come across like Sting or some other jerk off that's trying to be a 'Save The Whale' kind of guy. It had to be done very carefully."
During the album's recording, Mustaine bacame a father. I inquire whether fatherhood has had a calming effect on him. Luckily, having no offspring myself, I don't offer jim any advice.
"I've had so many different points of view about raising children. So many of my friends are baby doctors now. Last time I checked none of 'em have kids! They just have big fuckin' mouths. Someone from my record company in America, fat bitch from hell, told me that she would never have a kid because she's married to a musician and she doesn't want her kid to have a musician father. I felt that she was taking a personal stab at my integrity as a father. She can work at that record company the rest of her life but she won't have the integrity or money that I do in being able to provide support for my son."
Countdown To Extinction is their finest hour. Dave Mustaine is deserving of an audience.
"We want to spend more time with our following. I am still coming to terms with the fact that I can't drink or 'use' again. Whether you hate us or not, you have to understand that we came back from the third time out and not many bands do that. If you don't like what we've got to say or what we've got to playm that's OK. The one thing that's commendable in my eyes is that people have stuck with us, and we're not about to let those people down."
On a final note Mustaine describes the addiction that's recently returned to haunt him.
"You could have been the greatest guy in the world and not have heroin and I would have hated you, and you could have been a real motherfucker, who'd just killed his family, but if you had heroin on you I would have found a way to make that cool."
Dave Mustaine, still battling with those inner demons...