Interview: Dave Mustaine of Megadeth

Will Megadeth’s upcoming album be lucky 13? It sure could be, given the crest of good fortune the band has experienced since the release of their last universally acclaimed 2009 album, Endgame.

Frontman Dave Mustaine reunited with original bassist David Ellefson, mended fences with longtime rivals in Slayer and Metallica and played a batch of Big 4 shows (with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax), first in Europe, then in Indio, California, on April 23. The second U.S. Big 4 show will take place Sept. 14 at New York’s Yankee Stadium.

Hoping the good times keep rolling, Megadeth are working on their still-untitled 13th album at Mustaine’s Vic’s Garage studio in San Marcos, California, with producer Johnny K (Disturbed, Machine Head). They hope to be done recording in time to play this year’s Rockstar Mayhem Festival, which launches July 9 in San Bernardino, California.

GUITAR WORLD: How do you see the new album as a development from Endgame? Will it be heavier, more technical, more melodic?

It’s gonna be heavy and not slow heavy like Black Sabbath or Trouble. It’s very, very fast heavy.

How many songs did you write for the new one?

We have 12 songs that we’re contracted for this record, and that’s all we’re doing.

You’ve been pretty busy touring. When did you have time to write?

Some of the songs are old, some are new. Some were written this morning. Some back in the early stages of my career -- songs that weren’t previously recorded. It’s just a variety of stuff.

This will be your second record with Chris Broderick. You’ve said in the past his playing reminds you of [ex-Megadeth guitarist] Marty Friedman, with whom you recorded some of your best albums.

Chris and Marty both have their strengths and weaknesses. We’ve had great guitar players over the years with Megadeth, and that’s been one constant with us. The guitar-playing ability has been consistently good to excellent. We’ve had some drummers who are average, and the bass playing has always been good. But Chris and Marty are on a level all their own.

As a guitarist, how do you work with or feed off Chris’ playing?

I think the smart-ass answer would be, he does all the work and I have all the fun. But that’s kind of backwards because I’m the one carrying the brunt of the rhythm responsibilities. Chris has a lot of really great abilities as a lead guitarist. I’m more of a utility player, where I play underneath. These days, when it’s time for a solo, I hold the bottom down while Chris plays lead, especially when there’s a difficult guitar rhythm on top, because that’s my strength.

Is it satisfying to be working with bassist David Ellefson again?

Are you kidding? The guy’s great. He doesn’t make any mistakes. He’s just a well-rounded, mature individual. There were several times during the tour where I looked at him and said, “Who are you?” And I know he thought that was kind of funny, but truth was I really didn’t know who he was because he has turned into this amazing person and a smoking bass player. It’s the greatest thing ever and now we’re all getting along really well.

You already played on Big 4 show in the U.S. Are you looking forward to the Yankee Stadium gig?

Yes I am. The first show didn’t really go as well as it could have for me because of technical difficulties, where my amps stopped working. And I really want this one to go over well. It’s like put up or shut up. Plus, it’s kind of a dream of mine to have everyone at Yankee Stadium singing me “Happy Birthday” because my birthday falls right around there. But that’s David Ellefson’s call. He said, “That’d be a hell of a birthday present, wouldn’t?” And yeah, I think so.

For more of our interview with Dave Mustaine -- plus a preview of the upcoming Megadeth album -- check out the August issue of Guitar World magazine, which goes on sale June 28.

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Jon Wiederhorn

Jon is an author, journalist, and podcaster who recently wrote and hosted the first 12-episode season of the acclaimed Backstaged: The Devil in Metal, an exclusive from Diversion Podcasts/iHeart. He is also the primary author of the popular Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal and the sole author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legends. In addition, he co-wrote I'm the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax (with Scott Ian), Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen (with Al Jourgensen), and My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory (with Roger Miret). Wiederhorn has worked on staff as an associate editor for Rolling Stone, Executive Editor of Guitar Magazine, and senior writer for MTV News. His work has also appeared in Spin, Entertainment Weekly,, Revolver, Inked, and other publications and websites.