ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, NOV. 25, 2004
By Steve Newton
Megadeth fans who favour the band’s early work were no doubt pleased to see that original member Chris Poland rejoined fellow guitarist (and bandleader) Dave Mustaine for the group’s latest CD, The System Has Failed. But anyone expecting to see Poland in the lineup when Megadeth plays the Commodore on Friday (November 26) can forget about it. On the line from Toronto, Mustaine sounds perturbed by the assumption that Poland might be along for the ride.
“I would never have Chris back in Megadeth,” he stresses. “He came in to play on the record because it added a certain appeal to things, but he’s not the kinda guy that I would have as a band member because… He’s just not the kind of guy you’d have as a band member! You know, if you’ve got a huge catalogue of stuff, the last thing you want to do is be pleading with somebody to play solos the way that the other player played ’em. I mean, when Ozzy [Osbourne] had the tragedy of Randy [Rhoads] dying, and they got in Brad Gillis or whatever his name is to take over for Randy, that dude butchered the solos. It’s like, ‘Dude, how fuckin’ amateurish are you? I mean, you’re a guitar guy, a good guitar guy, and Randy’s solos aren’t that difficult. What’s wrong with you?’ ”
Poland might not have been thrilled by the prospect of imitating the solos of latter-day Megadeth picker Marty Friedman, a 10-year member who contributed heavily to the group’s best-selling CD, 1992’s Countdown to Extinction. Still, he definitely made a name for himself in metal circles with his exhilarating lead work on the ’85 Megadeth debut, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, and its ’86 follow-up, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? Mustaine sees the new System as similar to those early albums in that he is once again calling the shots, writing all the music and lyrics himself.
“When everyone else started to become a songwriter too, that’s when Megadeth started losing its way,” he claims. “You gotta be a good bandleader, and sometimes you gotta listen to other people’s ideas, and you gotta allow them to fail. Then, if they’re smart enough, and their ideas have failed, they’ll go back to the sure thing–which wasn’t them.”
If Mustaine sounds like a dick when referring to his former bandmates, you gotta keep in mind that he’s been burned himself–big time. In the recent documentary, Some Kind of Monster, he seemed close to tears when recalling, in the presence of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, how that hugely successful group tossed him out on his ass in April of ’83.
“You probably don’t know this,” he explains, “but that was filmed September 13, 2001. Now, two days earlier, the United States had been attacked by terrorists. So not only is everybody freaking out because one side of the country is smouldering like some incense, but on the other side of the country, people are walking around spreading powder everywhere, and nobody knows what the heck’s happening: is it anthrax or is it dandruff?
“On top of that,” he adds, “it’s my 40th birthday, and my wife has got me a Mercedes CL55 AMG for my birthday, and I can’t get this now because the stock market plunges. So not only do I lose my car, but I can’t fly home because all the airports are shut down! I’m supposed to be with all my loved ones, and you know who I spent my 40th birthday with? Lars. Happy gayday. I don’t know about you, but if you spent your 40th birthday with your archrival, your nemesis, you’d probably be a little bit perturbed, too, right?”
Currently touring with Megadeth is Exodus, the Bay Area metal act from which Mustaine’s replacement in Metallica, Kirk Hammett, was scooped. But Dave-O’s not crying about that; he’s just happy to be performing again, after suffering a nerve injury to his arm two years ago. For a while there he was concerned that he might never play guitar again.
“I was worried for a little bit,” he says. “And then I thought to myself, ‘Wait a minute, Dave, you’ve never been afraid of anything, so why are you afraid of this? Sure, you got hurt, but you know what? You’ve had worse things happen to you than this, so don’t be a pussy.’ ”