It's been an eventful recent stretch for Megadeth.
During the interim between 2013's "Super Collider" and this year's "Dystopia," the thrash metal mainstay changed members three times and also went through an abortive attempted reunion of the 1990 lineup that made the classic "Rust In Peace" album. The good news is that Megadeth came out with its head (banging) held high; "Dystopia's" No. 3 debut on the Billboard 200 was the group's highest showing since 1992, and new guitarist Kilo Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler -- subsequently replaced by Dirk Verbeuren -- added fresh energy to the group's attack.
The mojo hasn't subsided during the eight and a half months since "Dystopia's" release, and co-founders Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson are still happily in the killing business. And, as the album title says, business is good...
Singer-guitarist Mustaine, 55, says the departure of guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover prior to "Dystopia" only strengthened his resolve to keep Megadeth afloat. "There's an old saying that when you find silver and heat it up all the bad stuff comes to the surface, and then it's the silversmith's gig to clear away that dross, the stuff that's on time," notes Mustaine, who co-produced "Dystopia" with assistance from Toby Wright. "Every time we've had one of these meltdowns, by the grace of God I've been able to figure out how to turn that conflict into something that makes us better every time, and I do think it's a tremendous motivator. Revenge, anger, complacency, stuff like that, those are things that really motivate me. When someone says something and challenges me, I get angry and I get motivated."
The attempt to put together the "Rust In Peace" lineup, with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza (who died in May) was serious but ultimately didn't hold. "I'm glad we tried it," bassist Ellefson, 51, says. "The fans were the ones asking for it, so we tried it for them. We truly exhausted that possibility in every way. I've never seen Dave be so open to the challenge as he was on that one. The fact is it didn't work for a number of reasons. And we didn't walk out enemies; We got to break bread and get in a room together and play music together and go, 'OK, good to see ya, I don't think it's gonna work. Let's just put this away.' And now with Nick having passed on, I'm glad we at least tried."
Ellefson has been pleased during the "Dystopia" tour to see that Megadeth continues to bring younger fans to the party without necessarily losing the older end of the following. It's just such a cool thing to see, like, a big family reunion play now," the bassist says. "I see more and more of our fan base getting younger and younger You see it down front -- and you see a lot of girls at the shows now. When the girls come, that means guys come, so it's nice to see it's not just SOD -- sea of dudes. And it's nice to see the younger generation that's into the new, young hipster bands are also coming to the Megadeth show. We're sort of the generation that in some ways taught the young bands how it's done."
Mustaine has long been politically outspoken; He ever covered the 1992 Democratic National Convention for MTV. But like many he finds himself disillusioned with this year's presidential campaign. "I've seen 10 presidents come and go during my lifetime, and I can't help but ask myself if this is the best we've got," he explains. "You think about some of the things people are capable of doing, the inventions they come up with and the things you see them do, like some of these Nobel Prize winners...I'm talking about people who come up with cures for diseases and come up with incredible things that benefit mankind. Where are the people like THAT? When people get a taste of greed and stuff, they lose sight of what's right. The dollar signs get in the way and they lost perspective. I think as long as the corruption is as rampant as it is right now and you have all the different factions, it's not gonna get any better."
On a lighter note, Mustaine and his family moved to Nashville recently to help his daughter Electra with her burgeoning career as a country singer. She even recorded a version of Megadeth's 1994 track "I Thought I Knew It All," which came as a complete surprise to dad: "I was sitting on the couch and getting over being spaced out from jet lag, and she goes, 'So dad, listen to this,' and she starts playing the acoustic (guitar) and she starts singing the first line," Mustaine recalls." She's doing a totally different arrangement, totally different songs but my lyrics, and I hear the first line and I'm like, that kind of thing where you're like, 'Wait a minute; I recognize that!' and she sings the next line and I said, 'Honey, that reminds me of something, are you sure that's...' and I went, 'Wait a minute!' 'cause I realized it was my song, but it was great because she did her interpretation of it."
Megadeth. Amon Amarth, Suicidal Tendencies, Metal Church and Butcher Babies
6 p.m Sunday, Oct. 9.
Joe Louis Arena, 19 Yzerman Drive, Detroit.
Tickets are $28-$58. Call 313-471-6606 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.
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