Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine’s Gigantour has been dormant for four years, mothballed after three worldwide runs during the mid-2000s.
But this year Mustaine figured it was time to reawaken the heavy metal monster back.
“Gigantour is something that requires a lot of time and effort that I just didn’t have for awhile,” explains Mustaine, 50, who named the tour after the 1960s Japanese anime hero Gigantor. “Now, because Motorhead, one of the bands I wanted to go out and play with for awhile, has become available, and because that other two that I like (Lacuna Coil and Volebeat) are available, it just seemed like the right time to do it again.”
It’s also a better time, Mustaine notes — for Megadeth and for himself, personally.
“One of the things I’ve been working on a lot was getting some equilibrium back in my family, with my wife and my kids,” says the singer and guitarist, who has struggled with drug addictions and also overcame a debilitating injury to his left arm in 2002 that sent him into temporary “retirement.” He became a born-again Christian as well and documented his exploits and adventures in an autobiography.
“I opted to forget about (Gigantour) for awhile and focus on me,” he explains.
There were also developments within Megadeth that required Mustaine’s attention. After remixing Megadeth’s catalog in 2004 and subsequently resurrecting the band that year, the lineup changed a few times, with Chris Broderick of the band Jag Panzer joining on guitar in 2008 and original bassist David Ellefson rejoining in 2010 and playing on Metallica’s latest album, 2011’s “Th1rt3en” after eight sometimes acrimonious years apart.
“I’m the last person on Earth who would’ve thought he’d be back in Megadeth, and I think Dave was the second to last person,” Mustaine says. “We had our differences and all that stuff, and went our separate ways. When we got back together again, he was a much better bass player and a better man, too. He had done a lot of growth. When the opportunity came to play again, it was not as far-fetched as one would think.
“And then when Dave came back, the focus was on Chris. Chris is like having a wild stallion; the more you put into the guy as a player, the more he’s going to give you as a player. So we’ve been working on ourselves to get our show up to top-notch, and Gigantour just didn’t matter for awhile.”
Mustaine’s other key development in recent years was coming to terms, and peace, with another part of his past. The California-born Mustaine, who now resides in Arizona, was a founding member of Metallica in 1981, ultimately dismissed two years later — famously handed a bus ticket and sent home from an East Coast tour — when his bandmates felt his drinking and drug use had grown beyond control. Though he ushered Megadeth to worldwide sales of 30 million albums and 10 Grammy Award nominations, Metallica remained an unresolved issue for Mustaine, which wasn’t helped by what turned into an ambush encounter during the filming of the Metallica documentary “Some Kind of Monster” and an exclusion from the group’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2009.
The frost thawed in 2010, however, when Mustaine and Megadeth joined Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax in a series of Big Four concerts in Europe and the U.S., with the bands jamming together on stage at the end of the night and socializing again off stage.
“It’s been wonderful,” says Mustaine, who ranked No. 1 in the 2009 book “The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists” and was also on Hit Parader magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of all time. “It certainly makes me take a hard sideways look at what I missed out on because of the differences that we had in the past. When we were kids we were like brothers together. We would share food. So I’m stoked we’re all getting along again, and I think it’s really good for the fans, too. It’s a great time now, and I hope it keeps going.”
Mustaine was so moved, in fact, that he proposed forming a “supergroup” with Ellefson and Metallica’s James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich — though it has not yet transpired.
Meanwhile, Mustaine and company were busy making “Th1rt3en,” which the group recorded last spring in California with co-producer Johnny K at its own Vic’s Garage studio and released in November. It debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart while the track “Sudden Death” was featured in “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock” and while “NeverEnd” was used for the video game of the same name.
“We had such a limited time to do this record,” Mustaine recalls. “When we came home from touring, we had two months of off time and I was talking to my manager, and he...basically laid it out that it was in my best interests to consider doing a record in that two-month period, even though it was almost impossible.
“But what made it a little bit easier was the record company (Roadrunner) was working with us on this. With “Sudden Death” and “NeverEnd,” we went from needing 13 to having to come up with 11 new songs, which took some pressure off even though we still had to do it in about seven weeks. So it worked out.”
Stylistically, Mustaine acknowledges, “Th1rt3en” “is all over the place.” But 28 years on he says he feels decidedly lucky that the band made it this far.
“Obviously it’s the 13th record,” he notes. “Then, a little less obvious, I was born on the 13th (of September). I started playing when I was 13. Jesus and his disciples are 13. When I look at a dollar, there’s 13 stars and 13 arrows and 13 leaves...Even going down to the insanity of a supercommittee, which has six members on each side and then the president.
“So there’s a lot that ties it all together. I’m just happy we’re still doing this and making music this long, ‘cause you never know what’ll happen.”
Gigantour, featuring Megadeth, Motorhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil, takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $39.50, $29.50 and $13. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to