A mega interview with metal mavens Megadeth

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By: Elias Takacs

When Dave Mustaine left Metallica 16 years ago, his intense anger towards his former bandmates pushed him to create his own band. Megadeth’s first album, Killing is my business…and business good, came out in 1985 and the band was immediately viewed by many as the most ferocious band ever to play on the face of the earth.

Today the only original members left are Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson. Drummer Nick Menza joined the band in 1989 and lead guitarist Marty Friedman joined in 1990, just in time for the famous RustInPeace, which fans still view as their best offering ever. Either way, the album signifies a milestone since it was Megadeth’s first record to reach platinum status (one million sold in the U.S).

Having released Cryptic Writings last June, Megadeth is as strong as ever and still playing the intellectually rebellious music that brought them to the world’s heavy metal stage. Some of yesterday’s heavy metal heroes have disappeared and some changed their style to suit the mainstream, but only Megadeth has maintained its integrity and won’t ever hesitate to kick your ass when your ass needs to be licked. Last week Nick Menza sat down for an interview before Megadeth blew fans away at their concert at The Warehouse.

Eye: How’s the tour coming along?

Nick Menza: Good. We’ve been out there actually since last June touring for this record. We’ve been to South America, Japan. It’s good to be in Canada again; we haven’t been to Canada in two or three years. It’s a little cold here but it’s gonna get warmer once we start playing tonight.

Eye: What has been the craziest place that you guys played in since you started touring ?

NM: My house (laughs). No, we didn’t play at my house…I play at my house. I don’t know, probably South America. South American crowds are definitely by far the rowdiest bunch of kids I’ve ever seen. They get crazy down there.

Eye: Do you think metal is making a comeback?

NM: I don’t think that it ever went anywhere, it’s always been here. There are a lot of bands that are afraid to say they’re metal. I don’t say we’re metal or we’re not metal, I just say that we’re Megadeth, we make the music that we wanna make and that’s pretty much the way we’ve always been.

Eye: Does it bother you sometimes that there are so many people out there who misunderstand what Megadeth is all about?

NM: Those are people who judge books by their covers. People that closed minded we don’t care about anyways. If anyone has a brain in their head, they’ll pick up our CD and they’ll look at the lyrics and they’ll look at the content. Anybody who likes good music regardless of what style it is can listen to Megadeth and appreciate the musicianship, the ability of each guy in the band talent-wise, and the songs, because the songs are good, and if you come see us in concert, we’ll fucking tear your face off. You’ll think to yourself after a Megadeth concert, ‘shit, is that what a a heavy metal concert is?’ Yeah, that’s what it’s about. It’s about high energy. We’re into playing our music and playing our instruments and impressing people (with) how good it is.

It’s not like we’re flashing off bombs, putting up a huge light rig and smoke all over the stage or making devil signs. I told a guy on a plane who was a minister, ‘we don’t promote drugs, and we don’t promote Satan, we don’t promote drugs, and we don’t promote sex in our music’ and he looked at me and said, ‘how can you be a heavy metal band?” You can’t stereotype someone because of the type of music they play. It’s not like when I listen to Slayer. I’m gonna go out and kill someone or myself or cut off a goat’s head and drink blood out of it. A lot of times when these kids do shit after they listen to certain lyrics and certain records, (it’s because) they come from a bad family upbringing.

Eye: What kind of musical influences does Megadeth have?

NM: All kinds. I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Rush, Priest, Scorpions, Van Halen, all the traditional heavy bands that write good songs. To me Led Zeppelin is still the all-time band. The other guys listen to everything from Kiss to Sabbath. Save’s also got a lot of old influences, like Diamond Head, and even The Beatles. We listen to everything, you’ll look at my CD collection and you’ll think, you listen to this?

Eye: I see that you guys tour almost all year. Is that hard on your personal and family life?

NM: Sure, it’s tough man. It’s tough being away from home, period. You just disconnect from,that for so long. Megadeth is like my second family. All these guys are like my brothers, we spend so much time together. I spend more time with them then I do with my own family. So, it’s like a second family basically. You better fucking like each other (laughs) if you don’t, you’ll be killing each other after a very short time.

Eye: Where do you guys have the best fans?

NM: All our fans are awesome. We’ve got a really strong following I can’t say that one place is better than the other. They’re all different.

Eye: The reason I asked is because Cryptic Writings debuted at #1 on the billboards in Japan, but only at #10 in the US.

NM: Sure, we’re Americans in Japan. In America, Americans see us as just another band. Even in Europe, and European country that we go to, we’re much bigger than we are in the United States because we are Americans. It just works that way. In Canada not so much, but when we get to Montreal, and Quebec , we’re a little bit more like foreigners to the French Canadians in Quebec. I don’t know, it varies from place to place

Eye: Any clues as to what your next album is gonna be like?

NM: Couldn’t tell ya. We change things up until the last second. One thing I can tell you is that it’s gonna be heavy, and it’s gonna be Megadeth and when you put it on you’ll know it’s us.

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