Chris Broderick Discusses His Years with Megadeth, Act of Defiance's Debut Album
Being a hired gun has its advantages for a guitarist that just wants to play and doesn’t need the responsibility of writing songs, choosing what gets recorded and dealing with record label bean counters.
But for ex-Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick, rocking out to someone else’s tunes night after night wasn’t enough. So on November 25, six hours after drummer Shawn Drover left the band, Broderick told Dave Mustaine he, too, was quitting.
“The decision was a long time in the making,” Broderick says, sitting poolside at his Los Angeles home. “Being in Megadeth was great for my career, but I wanted to have some creative freedom and some freedom in how I presented myself.”
Broderick replaced Megadeth’s guitarist Glen Drover in 2008 and played on three of the band’s studio albums, three live releases and never missed a tour. For almost six years he dedicated most of his time to Megadeth and had no fallback plans.
Then, during a conversation with Drover, the two decided to use a batch of material they had written for Megadeth as the launching point for a new band, Act of Defiance. The two quickly wrote 10 songs that were considerably heavier and more musically intricate than anything they had played for years.
To complete the lineup, they hired Scar the Martyr vocalist Henry Derek Bonner and ex–Shadows Fall guitarist Matt Bachand on bass. Then with the help of Chris “Zeuss” Harris, Act of Defiance assembled Birth and the Burial, a crushing technical metal album that offers more musical diversity than Broderick revealed in Megadeth.
“Thy Lord Belial” is fast and unrelenting, pausing only for a call-and-response chorus, “Refrain and Refracture” starts with an acoustic arpeggio over a neo-classical lead and features a melodic rhythm redolent of Killswitch Engage and “Poison Dream" builds from classical piano and strings into an epic multi-faceted thrasher.
“The sound of Act of Defiance is kind of like if you invited every genre of metal together to go to a concert and mosh in a pit, whether it’s old-school thrash to death metal to Scandinavian black metal and everything in between. There are elements of all those types of metal. And I love that about it.”
In a candid, articulate interview, Broderick talks about his years with Megadeth, the rules of being in that band, how he and Drover assembled Act of Defiance, why he hired a guitarist to play bass and the unconventional recording process for Birth and the Burial.
Shawn Drover recommended you to Dave Mustaine in 2008 after his brother Glen left the band and Glen, who left Megadeth on good terms, endorsed you. How did you know the Drovers and did either of them call you to let you know you were being considered?
They knew me from Nevermore, but I didn’t hear anything from them until I was in the band. Management called totally out of the blue. I didn’t know what to make of it. I almost thought it was a prank at first. They wanted me to meet with Dave first and then audition.
Had you been a Megadeth fan?
I had no idea where they were at their career at that point, so I had no expectations. I just thought it was a great opportunity so I jumped at it.
Did you think you’d be able to provide creative input into the band?
I knew I wouldn’t be able to demand anything. I saw it as a great job and I allowed my employer to dictate the terms. It’s not like when you’re a teenager and you get together with your friends and you’re like, “Ahhh, partners for life!” I wish it was like that, but it definitely wasn’t. There is a hierarchy after a band is established and has a legacy.
Were you comfortable in that role?
I loved playing for the crowd. When you walk onstage and the crowd is having a good time, it’s great.
Did Mustaine tell you what to play and how to play it?
When we did songs from the back catalog I was playing another guitarist’s parts, whether it was Chris Poland, Marty Friedman or Jeff Young. So I played like they did and Dave did his part. That always worked out really well. As far as the albums I played on, Dave designated the solo spots and he had some input in what I could or could not do.