Dave Mustaine calls out today’s trendy jackasses on Megadeth’s Cryptic Writings

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ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, FEB. 26, 1998

By Steve Newton

When the conference-call operator connects me with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, I’m expecting to be hooked up with the guy in America’s centre of loud music, Los Angeles. But it turns out the snarling metal man has settled down with his family—which includes a three-week-old daughter named Elektra—in Scottsdale, Arizona, of all places. Of the quartet, only drummer Nick Menza still resides in the City of Angels, or Sodom and Gomorrah, as Mustaine calls it.

“Three of us got out alive,” says Mustaine, whose band plays the Rage on Thursday (March 5) with guests Coal Chamber. “You know, we’d been livin’ that rock-star lifestyle for so long in L.A. that we just had to say ‘Enough’ and go to where we wanted to. And there’s no real important reason for us to live there, anyway.”

Arizona isn’t totally without its hard-rock aura, of course, as for many years it’s been the home of the King of Nasty Rock himself, Alice Cooper. The Coop happens to be Mustaine’s godfather, and the two are golfing buddies—Mustaine won the longest-drive contest in Cooper’s golf  tournament last year. The Cooper-Mustaine connection also bore fruit back in ’89, when Megadeth recorded Cooper’s ’73 classic “No More Mr. Nice Guy” for the Shocker soundtrack.

Back then, the group had famed hard-rock producer Max Norman at the controls, but for its current CD, the Nashville-recorded Cryptic Writings, Megadeth went with session guitarist Dan Huff. “We wanted someone who was gonna bring something different,” says Mustaine, “and Dan had a way of bringin’ stuff out of us that we never thought was possible. He got us to dig deeper and to try things that were a little bit more melodic than anything we’ve tried before.”

Although Megadeth is best-known for its Norman-produced 1992 hit “Symphony of Destruction”, Mustaine feels his band made significant strides toward matching that tune’s popularity with “Trust”, the feverish ode to betrayal that kicks off Cryptic Writing. “ ‘Trust’ was one of the biggest songs in America for weeks on end,” he boasts, “and we were absolutely ecstatic about that. We didn’t compromise our integrity in any way, shape, or form, because we were doing what we thought was right, and the radio play has just been unbelievable.”

There aren’t many metal bands from the ’80s still making noticeable waves in the late ’90s; Mustaine’s current band and his old one, Metallica, are among the precious few. So what is the 36-year-old headbanger’s opinion of the state of raunchy rock today?

“There’s a lotta stuff that’s going on right now that’s really cool,” he figures, “but I also think there’s a lot of people out there that have compromised their integrity to play stuff that’s really trendy, for example dance-oriented music. And I for one don’t really blame any of these people for following the carrot on the stick—but what usually follows carrots on sticks? Jackasses and horses.

“So… I’ve probably disappointed a lot of people right now because we’re not using synthesizers and samplers and drum machines and all that stuff, but I know that I would be disappointing myself more than anybody else if I did do that.”

To hear my full 1998 interview with Dave Mustaine–and my 1991 interview with Megadeth’s Marty Friedman as well–subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also eavesdrop on my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover of Deep Purple, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1996
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Leo Kottke, 2002
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Buddy Miles, 2001
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1985
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

 

 

 

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