Megadeth has essentially done it all ever since singer/guitarist Dave Mustaine started the group following his unceremonious dismissal from Metallica. Since he formed Megadeth in 1983, Dave has become recognized throughout the world as one of the greatest musicians in all of heavy metal. A huge influence on the thrash metal genre, Megadeth has released 12 full-length albums, been nominated for nine Grammy awards and sold more than 30 million records.
But it hasn’t been an easy road for the band. Substance abuse problems plagued the group and in 2002, and after suffering a serious arm injury, Dave announced that the band would be no more. “Every time we were poised for just crossing that imaginary line that was keeping us from becoming everything that we wanted to be, something would happen,” Mustaine said. “Somebody would get in trouble, somebody would get fired, somebody would get hurt, somebody would OD, etc.”
Two years passed and after recovering from the injury that caused severe nerve damage to his left arm, Mustaine decided to reform the band, only with a few lineup changes. Words were exchanged back and forth in the media between Mustaine and founding bassist Dave Ellefson, resulting in Ellefson turning down an offer to rejoin the group. It wasn’t until last year that Ellefson decided to get back together with Mustaine and play again with Megadeth.
I asked Mustaine if he ever thought that those two would get back together again, to which he was responded with a terse, “No, probably not.”
“You see, the thing is Dave [Ellefson] and I were always close and we had this terrible incident occur between us,” Mustaine said. “And throughout the whole thing, I kept the same position in that I didn’t want him to get hurt and I didn’t want his family to get hurt.”
In July of 2004, a few months after their fallout, Ellefson sued Dave for $18.5 million, claiming that the vocalist shortchanged him from profits, including publishing and merchandise sales, in addition to making libelous statements about him. Eventually, the lawsuit was thrown out.
“Thank God the judge dismissed his lawsuit,” Mustaine quipped. “I don’t think he did anything wrong, I think he just listened to the wrong person. When I met with him after this whole thing went down and I told him that I forgave him, he probably wasn’t expecting that. But if anybody deserves a second chance, as many as I’ve had, I shouldn’t be [stopping] from giving someone else a second chance.”
Eventually, a second chance with Megadeth was granted. Shawn Drover, drummer for Megadeth since their reshuffling in 2004, routinely asked Mustaine to let Ellefson back in the band. After some time, Mustaine asked Ellefson to come down, visit with them and play.
“It was actually even better than before because he’s gotten so much better playing his instrument,” Mustaine emphasized. “I remember him to be a really good bass player but he became great.”
Now with Drover and the two Dave’s, Megadeth is joined by one of the finest guitarists you will ever come across in Chris Broderick. The former Nevermore and Jag Panzer standout replaced Shawn’s brother Glen Drover in 2008.
“Right now, we’re totally blessed, we’re totally covered and we’ve got great players with us,” Mustaine stated. “Chris is amazing too. And I got to tell you that Shawn, if I would have met him in the beginning, he probably would’ve been my only drummer because we’re just cut from the same cloth. And I really wish things hadn’t changed with David and I for that, you know, eight-year timeout that he was in, but we’re closer now, I think, than we’ve ever been.”
Currently touring the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the gang seems pretty excited to be on the road. The tour, which started in California on July 9, will be making two stops in New Jersey. The first will be at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on Wednesday, July 27. Their next appearance will be at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden on Sunday, July 31. A few shows in already, I asked Dave for his thoughts so far during the festival.
“The Mayhem tour has been really good,” Mustaine said. “We had a couple of small, little glitches that were happening from some people in the production areas and from some of the other projects that are involved out here. There was just some unfortunate, timely mishaps, you know, and we got it all fixed. The people who are actually running the tour here are amazing and have worked very hard to make us feel comfortable and I’m honored to be a part of this.”
As one of the headliners of the Rockstar tour, Megadeth will be playing a few songs from their new album, Th1rt3en, as well as hits from their long list of previous albums. Th1rt3en, which is slated for a November release, is something that Mustaine says is completely different than anything he’s ever done. A few tracks from their new album have been released already such as “Sudden Death,” which was featured in the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock, as well as “Public Enemy No. 1,” which was in NeverDead, a third-person action/fantasy game. Produced by the famed Johnny K, the disc is the first one featuring Ellefson bass since his departure.
Also appearing on the Mayhem Fest will be headliners Disturbed and Godsmack. “You know, I was never really a big fan of Godsmack or Disturbed [but] having been out on this tour, we got a chance to hear some of their songs, and it’s cool stuff, man,” Mustaine said. “I’m probably a little more partial to the energy of Disturbed than Godsmack because it kind of reminds me a little bit of Alice In Chains. But Disturbed, to me, doesn’t sounds like anybody I’ve ever heard before.”
Megadeth will be playing the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on Wednesday, July 27. The tour will also hit Camden on Sunday, July 31 at the Susquehanna Bank Center. For more info, log on to rockstarmayhemfest.com.