MEGADETH recently ripped it up in Toronto, playing Rust In Peace in its entirety in the middle slot of the Canadian Carnage tour, which also featured openers TESTAMENT and SLAYER closing the show.
But Dave has been getting a little extra business in, doing signings for his new autobiography (simply called Mustaine, out now on Harper Collins) and not so simply blazing a drug-ravaged slash ‘n’ burn through the convoluted lineups Megadeth has harboured, some of the band’s soldiers paying the ultimate price through toe-tagged dishonourable discharge
Fortunately, the manic man at the front, Dave Mustaine, is around and more than sufficiently lucid to tell the harrowing tale, one which ends with the band being in better shape than ever, Shawn Drover providing stability on drums, Chris Broderick firing and inspiring Dave on a guitary plane, and most importantly, Dave “Dave Jr.” Ellefson helping underscore the history and legacy of the band – to be sure, there’s an extra layer of love out there in the crowd whenever Dave fires up some of those trademark bass intros.
But back to the book, even though Mustaine is entirely a first person account, Mustaine got guidance from one Joe Layden, who focused Dave enough to receive a co-author credit to this swiftly moving tale of too much too soon in a heroin balloon.
“Joe was a person who was introduced to me, and they told me his resume, and they said that he was a sportswriter, essentially. And I thought, you know, this is going to be good, because he’s not caught up in all the typical same ol’ same ol’ words that everybody uses in metal. It would be somebody who can write, who uses a bunch of different verbiage, as well as somebody who doesn’t really know me, and who will be a very unbiased party. Because I don’t want this to be presented like a Dave Mustaine sales pitch. I wanted it to be the truth, warts and all, and I think anybody who has read this will see that I’m not making it like some kind of way to vindicate myself. It’s just telling the story before I get too old and forget it.”
“I did have some very important criteria that I wanted to go over,” reflects Dave, asked whether he wrestled with the pros and cons of covering so much squalid terrain, with being so honest, graphic and frankly not very complimentary to “the real me.”
“This being my first book, I didn’t really know what I was doing. This was a whole new area for me, so I read a couple other people’s bios. Like I read Manson’s bio, I read several political figures that I respected, I read Slash’s book, AC/DC’s book. Other stuff that happened to me was better left out of the story. There was stuff that I did which was better left out, and there is stuff that needs to be told, but because of the way human nature is and how litigious everybody is now, it could never be told. But having said that, I wanted it to be as much as I could about who I am, and not about, ‘Buy Megadeth records’ for Pete’s sakes, because they already sell. So this is more about like, okay, so now that this whole Big Four thing has now proven to the world that there aren’t any feuds anymore, what’s next? More Big Four concerts, hopefully, and a new record for us. But in the meantime it was me being able to say, OK now, if you want to know who this guy is who has been the villain for so many years, well, here I am. This is who I am and this is what makes me how I am. It’s not so much, like I said, selling Megadeth - it’s about explaining Dave Mustaine.”
Asked whether becoming even more of an open book than he previously was would change his relationships with people, essentially cut through an extra layer of bull, Dave says, “I don’t know how it’s going to change people. And I didn’t really do this to have an effect on other people. It wasn’t like some self-righteous bloodletting or something, for me to come into it as an enlightened soul. It was really just me just telling the story. And you know, like I said, I didn’t want to hurt anybody in the process. But there was a lot of stuff that was really funny in the book, like the story about the scorpion and the girl we threw in the bushes, and it’s just funny stuff. I look at it, and I think, man, that’s rock ‘n’ roll. But then I also think about, well, why did Ozzy get happy faces tattooed on his knees? You know, there are questions like that I had about other people, and I’m just wondering, did I answer some of those questions in my book? Yeah, I did - there are places where I say why I did the things I do, and why am the way I am. Like for example, on the way over to do the morning television show here - what’s that called? Breakfast TV; it’s huge, right? - and on my way over there, our driver… we had this retard, and he takes us all around town to get there, and he takes me right past the Greyhound station, and I was like, ‘Aaaarggh!’ when I saw a Greyhound bus, because that’s how I went home, right?”
That’s a long time ago. And now we’re all growing old together… “Well it’s really funny that you say ‘we.’ Because for the longest time I never felt like I was part of the we. And a lot of that was sadly the feud, and everybody trying to be hip and think that it was cool to be a Dave hater. And it’s like, I said a lot of stuff, that I think anybody in their circumstances would say when they’re backed into a corner or hurt or whatever. You know, it’s funny because, I was talking with Kerry the other day, and he flat out said, ‘I don’t even remember what I was mad about. It was so long ago.’ And I was like yeah, I don’t even know what you’re mad about either. So we just laughed about it, because we were kids at the time. But you have a fan, and you have a fan that takes this popular figure, or a person they’re pining for, it takes on a life of its own. So I feel like part of ‘we’ right now - that itself is a rush. A lot of that started when I started to see my name showing up in articles about influencing other guitar players. Because I never saw it. And then you start seeing people say that no, they were influenced by Dave. And yes, you listen to them and you can hear it. But I wouldn’t take credit for it. A lot of kids playing out there right now are also brilliant. And there are some people out there right now that I think are a little bit too brilliant, and they need to remember what this is all about. It’s not about being out there and soloing, it’s about expressing yourself. You know, I love to express myself to the music, and that’s one of the things that I think caused one of the biggest problems, is expressing yourself. Some people don’t want to hear it.”
In closing, Dave responds to an enquiry into his inner dialogue, specifically with respect to weighing the good and the bad, somehow arriving out the other end with the rationalization everyone goes through, convincing themselves that on balance, it’s been a good life…
“Well, it’s not really like there’s bad and good. There’s life and then there’s, for me, what’s going to be the afterlife. And how I deal with things right now making a difference in the world, because I missed out on a lot of stuff. When Countdown was #2, did I care? No, I was furious about fucking where BILLY RAY CYRUS was. And I was upset because the Recording Industry Association of America would let a country artist in the pop charts. You know, put him in the country charts! Let me have my fucking #1! For once, OK? And you know, I didn’t even realize, if I never make it to #1, then I’ll be the #1 person at being #2. And it’s just some perspective - an aperture kind of clicks into focus. You know, I’ve got a great life. I stopped wanting everything, and I started looking at what I’ve got, and I realize I have more than most. And that this is part of being a little kid. You know, you want to get everything you can. You know, you go to the buffet and you pile up all the sprinkles and shit on your ice cream, and you know you’re not going to eat it, but boy, you want to make sure! I look at my life right now, and like I said before, not trying to be clever, I’ve been overpaid and underworked. I think about what George Harrison said about when you become popular - you exchange your nervous system for fame, and he’s absolutely right. I have a hard time when we travel in certain areas. If I want to be left alone, or if I’m going through something, and I’m having a bad day… you know, you’re always going to run into somebody who is going to see you, and you’ve got to be able to (snaps fingers), snap out of it, because as a public figure, you’re not really allowed to have bad days. And I think that’s another thing, that in the beginning of my career, I was open about those bad days. Fortunately for me, in the long run, it’s come around full circle. You know, I was a pioneer at being honest. I think a lot of musicians nowadays, they’re saying that being honest to your fan base is the key to success. It’s the key to longevity.”