Born to Burn: Dave Mustaine

Born to Burn: Why I Play Guitar Originally printed in Guitar World, October 1992 Dave Mustaine “I first started playing as a pre-teen, and then I made the transition to electric guitar when I was around 15. My mom and dad got divorced when I was very young, and growing up in a family where the head of the household wasn’t a man made a big difference. I didn’t have a male role model or a father-figure in my life and it caused me to lash out a lot at things I couldn’t understand, mainly because I didn’t know how to deal with things appropriately. Playing guitar became a good outlet for me. What I couldn’t say verbally I was able to express physically through the guitar. “My guitar didn’t say ‘no,’ it never talked back and it was always there for me. My guitar was a loyal person to me. It was a part of my anatomy. It was a surrealistic instrument that took me away from the pain in my life. For me, playing is a manner of self-exposure and self-awareness—guitar helps me connect with people who are in the same predicament as me, to see if we could compare notes and try to find a quicker route between the problem and the solution. Playing live is basically just hyperactivity and a certain sense of enchantment that I deliver to the audience, to let them know what it would be like to be inside my head. “l didn’t start writing music until I was around 18. When I compose, I’m usually a little more tranquil, transcending from one emotion to the other. I’m not the kind of person who keeps plodding and plodding away. It’s like Michelangelo — they never asked him, ‘What are you gonna carve?’ His job was to get rid of the excess marble, because he knew what was inside the marble. I know what’s inside of the song—my job is to get rid of the excess around it. “l know that if I misuse my gift, I’ll blow it. You have all these little fretwankers out there who play guitar 100 hours a day, and who are mindless, clueless instrumentalists that have nothing to offer except their self-indulgent, rockstar, pig guitar playing. For me, to sit around and just play solos would be to miss the beauty of playing music. “Right now there are so many gunslingers out there who are caught up in what the next instrumentalist is doing, it makes me not even want to touch my guitar. I use my guitar as an outlet, and anything beyond that would be abuse. It’s like having a magic bottle: I have three wishes, and if I use them all up, I won’t get what I want. But if I use it only when necessary, everything will be first-rate all the time—if I use it constantly, it’ll be bulk-rate.’ “A lot of people say their guitar sings when they play it—mine throws up.”

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