Megadeth To Take No Prisoners At No Sleep Till Festival
I t appears I can hear Dave Mustaine calling the last guy who interviewed him a ‘fuckwit’ and hanging up. He turns to me with a disdainful face that’s in the process of reshaping itself from raging to welcoming. I wonder aloud if maybe we shouldn’t even bother broaching the topic of The Big 4 tour. Or Metallica. Or Slayer. Or anything.
“Ah yeah, well. It’s not that I’m tired of it, because it would be totally unfair to treat you with the disdain that I have for having to do the same interview over and over again when it’s your first time. Even though it is kinda monotonous, out of respect to you I would trudge through it. I suppose it can be fun for me to talk about. Sometimes I’ll remember something that I don’t remember from before, but… generally not.”
So I ask Dave a question about something else entirely. I think it has to do with dogs. He doesn’t really listen, and what follows instead is ten minutes of breathless, uninterrupted monologue from the house that Mustaine built.
“My job as an entertainer is to help work with you, to help people get to know who I am. I can honestly tell ya, I’m nothing special,” he shrugs. “I’m just a guy who’s been coming down to Australia for a while, and have just managed to fall in love with the country and found some people down there that kinda like me too.
“I don’t even know if I’d be doing this if I wasn’t influenced by your patriarchs, you know, Acca Dacca,” he adds. “I was so brought-up on those guys.
“At La Mesa where I grew up and surfed a lot, I was the only guy that listened to AC/DC. It wasn’t like nobody liked ‘em, it was just like, I was the first guy. It was the coolest thing, you know, to be able to stand up on stage one day when we were touring with them and to know that it had come full-circle for me: listening to them play, me picking up a guitar, and then finally standing on stage with them one day. Because I hear people say that to me all the time, too: ‘Man, one day I’m gonna be standing up there with you!’ And I’m thinking, ‘You know what, you might buddy, and I’m not gonna laugh at you because I did it, too.’ Especially when it’s the little guys. It’s good.
“You’ve got an opportunity to be an absolute dickhead every day of your life out here,” he continues, unabated, “like some of these guys are, or you can be really cool and really help some people. We did this thing the other day in Chicago for this thing called the ‘Make a Wish Foundation,’ I don’t know if you know what that is. So the kid that showed up there – we actually have a picture of him on our fan club website – and he showed up, he’s with his folks and everything. I’m looking at this kid, and he looks unbelievably healthy for having cancer.
‘He looks really healthy, and he’s got a tan, and shit, he’s pretty good at guitar, too!’ You know, ‘cos he was playing guitar, and he was really actually pretty good. I showed him the chorus to Symphony, ‘cos he had a little wiggle with the fretting-hand off. So I’m there thinking that he’s dying and everything, and ‘God, what a shame’. Now, I hate to be insensitive about this, but I look at his folks, and they go, ‘Oh no, he’s in remission,’ and I’m like, ‘What!’ ‘No, he was just miraculously healed,’ and I thought, ‘Praise God, but why didn’t you tell me, you little fucker?’” he laughs. “Yeah, they told me after the concert,” he chuckles. “I didn’t feel too exploited, though – I was hoping they were lying to me and not him.
“Because,” Dave recalls, “I remembered that this had happened in Kentucky a few months earlier. I had become a notary Colonel in Kentucky, by the governor of the state of Kentucky. I’ve got a lot of things from our country that are meaningless to some people, but really mean a lot to me – like stuff like that. Anyway, this one kid that I met there, he had contracted throat cancer really bad and I was so sad.
“I’m not a pussy by any means,” he asserts, “but my eyes started to water and I was so sad for him; he said he was gonna die really soon. And of course he did, but over the course of time I got to know him. This next time that we came back, his wife said, ‘Will you please talk to him on the phone?’ and I’m like, ‘Why? He’s supposed to come to the show.’ ‘No, he’s too sick, he can’t come, and we told him that you’re not playing tonight because if he knows you’re here, he’s gonna wanna come.’
“And I said, ‘That’s bullshit, I’m not gonna lie to him. I’ll talk to him, but you know what, if he gets on the phone and he says ‘Where are you playing?’ I’m not gonna lie to him.’
“Right so, I’m on the phone and (Megadeth bassist) David Ellefson walks in, right,” Dave relates, “and he goes real loud, ‘Yeah man, so we’re getting ready to go onstage tonight, dude!’. Oh good, well at least I didn’t have to say anything,” Dave sighs. “The bummer is, though, this young fella? He died right after our visit. The thing was, we were able to help this guy during those last moments of his life. I don’t know if I was the last guy, but he kept saying, ‘Man, you made my dream come true.’
“I’m not anyone’s dream,” Dave adds, “I don’t like to be fucked with, but I like people. Part of the reason people think that I’m difficult is, if I say no to somebody and they don’t like it, what are they going to do? They’re going to do the same thing you would do: you go up to a girl at a dance and she says no, you’re going to say, ‘Fuck you, you don’t know what you’re missing!’ I know people talk poorly about me, and I know some of that I deserve – but the sad thing is if they don’t know me and they’re saying stuff, it’s kind of a bummer because we may never get to meet each other, and-”
The conferencing service cuts him short. Subsequently Dave Mustaine becomes the first person I’ve ever interviewed who has managed to run over time whilst interviewing themselves.
MEGADETH play their classic record Rust In Peace as headliners of NO SLEEP TIL FESTIVAL alongside NOFX, Descendents, Dropkick Murphys, Gwar, A Day To Remember, Frenzal Rhomb, Parkway Drive, Alkaline Trio, Katatonia, Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, Suicide Silence, 3 Inches Of Blood and a million other bands – at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday December 17. Tickets and info from nosleeptil.com.au. Their Rust In Peace Live CD/DVD/Blu-Ray is out now, and their last album Endgame is out now through Roadrunner.