Dave Mustaine: Countdown to Extinction
GW You seem pretty content with your current bandmates. How did new guitarist Chris Broderick come into the picture?
MUSTAINE Glen Drover recommended him. When Glen first said he was leaving the band, I thought, let’s call up [Nevermore guitarist] Jeff Loomis or [Annihilator’s] Jeff Waters. Now, I certainly wouldn’t pick Waters anymore, but I did get in touch with Loomis, and he couldn’t commit because he was in the middle of doing a solo record. And I understood that, so I moved on. That’s when I decided to take a look at Chris. I watched some of his stuff online, and I thought, He’s good. He’s really good. So we met, and I found him to be exactly what I needed. He’s really focused on his guitar playing…and his bodybuilding. So I told him, “The only thing you need to understand is that Megadeth fans are pretty particular about who we are. I mean, you’ve got a great physique, and it’s totally cool to be healthy, but let’s be real about it: you’re a guitar player. Instead of squeezing in Megadeth in between workouts, you need to understand you’re squeezing workouts in between being in Megadeth. Weightlifting won’t make you famous!”
GW Physique aside, you’ve stated that Chris is the best guitarist you’ve had in Megadeth. Taking into account the caliber of the guys who have come before him, that’s no small compliment.
MUSTAINE There’s a difference between being a great guitar player and having that little extra something, that flair. And Chris has it. I’ve been saying that he reminds me of Randy [Rhoads], because finding Chris makes me feel like I know what Ozzy must have felt when he discovered Randy. So we get along great. You know, people have heard me say that I “sang” solos to [former guitarist] Marty [Friedman] in the studio, and I did. I did it to [former guitarists] Jeff [Young], Chris [Poland] and Al [Pitrelli], too. But Chris Broderick? I only did it two times, and there are literally hundreds of thousands of notes on Endgame. Now that is a testimony to a guy who has studied his partner.
GW You’ve always been somewhat humble about your own guitar skills.
MUSTAINE One thing I will say is that, recently, I’ve noticed myself being voted into so many of these “best-of” guitar columns, and that’s really awkward for me, because I’ve grown accustomed to never being recognized for my playing. I’ve always wanted to be great, but I think I became so used to being number two that I forgot there even was a number one. And the self-deprecating thing became a way for me to not get too caught up in it. I could say I’m not that good before someone else did.
GW A trademark of your guitar sound is the fact that you almost always play in standard tuning. You don’t drop-tune, which is de rigueur for metal acts these days.
MUSTAINE I feel that the guitar needs to be tuned to A440 so you can get the correct response out of it. And I believe that if you play some of those low-tuned songs on a guitar in standard tuning, you’ll hear that a lot of them don’t have good melodies. It becomes almost atonal and percussive. But now everybody does it, and because everybody’s in a band and has a song, you hear it more and more. A study was done recently that said there’s something like seven or eight million bands on MySpace. Now, how many of those bands do you think suck?
GW I don’t know. Seven or eight million?
MUSTAINE A lot of ’em, yeah! I’m a professional, and a lot of people I know who are professionals suck. There was a period when I kinda sucked.
GW You think so?
MUSTAINE I think that the [1999 Megadeth] record Risk would have sold if it had been called the Dave Mustaine Project. I think people would have loved that. But they expected to hear Megadeth, and they heard the record and were like, You know what, Dave? We know you’re having problems with Marty, but you’re the leader, so tell him to shape up or ship out. Well, I kinda did, and that’s why he shipped out. After Risk I told him, “Man, we need to go back to our roots.” And he had a nervous breakdown. I mean, God bless the little fighter, but I didn’t want the guy to have to have a day nurse with him. You know that footage of Michael Jackson walking to court in his pajamas? That’s kinda how Marty was showing up at the end. He would walk in and it was like, Oh my God. And I thought, You know what? This is because we worked him too hard.
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