Richard Bienstock of the Denver Westword recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Denver Westword: Prior to [Gigantour], there was talk that you and Jason Newsted, two METALLICA vets, would pair up to jam on one of the tunes that you had a hand in writing during your time with the band. But it has yet to happen.
Mustaine: We talked about it numerous times. And I’ve talked to my band about it, and they’re all cool with it. I’ve told them all the songs I feel comfortable playing, and also said to Jason, “If you want to play bass, that’s fine. If you want to sing, that’s fine, too.” So it’s up to him. But also, he got sick. He has walking pneumonia right now, and his band is sitting out the Canadian dates. But if he comes back and wants to do it? Man, I’m game. I know those songs. [laughs]
Denver Westword: You and David [Draiman of DEVICE and DISTURBED] are two musicians who are fairly outspoken about your religious beliefs. That’s pretty rare in rock and roll, in particular heavy metal. What motivates you to share that part of your life?
Mustaine: I think it’s just a matter of courage. You have to look at the old adage, All men of faith have courage and all men of courage have faith. Every war, every big game, every fight, it’s those guys who always say a prayer before they go in to do battle. It’s like the whole Pascal’s Wager thing that I sang about in “Dread And The Fugitive Mind”: It’s better to live your life like there’s a God and to find out there isn’t, than to live like there’s no God and find out there is. But honestly, to boil it down, religion, it sucks. For me, it’s really all about having a personal relationship [with God], and people don’t want to do that because they don’t want to be held accountable. It’s kind of like when you’re in AA: You have a sponsor and the sponsor helps you get through the day without drinking. I needed that accountability to help me get off heroin. And my drug past is very well chronicled. But the funny thing is, so many of the guys I got loaded with, nobody knew they were doing it, too, until it came out later. And it’s like, you couldn’t tell? We were sitting next to each other, we both looked completely high, and you think I’m the only one? But after walking through all that stuff, you realize, you know what? There’s no shame in any of it.
Denver Westword: On the subject of addictions, this past May, SLAYER guitarist Jeff Hanneman died of alcohol-related liver cirrhosis. He had also been battling necrotizing fasciitis as the result of a spider bite on his right arm, which ultimately left him unable to play guitar. As someone who has dealt with substance-abuse issues and also once suffered an arm injury that threatened to end your career, did you ever have a chance to speak with him about anything he was going through?
Mustaine: No. Unfortunately, Jeff and I were never really close. We toured together a lot over the years, but our two camps were pretty separate. The bands were kind of acquaintances in the beginning, though that was more so me and Kerry [SLAYER guitarist Kerry King, who played in an early lineup of MEGADETH]. Jeff was always a little more aloof. It would just be kind of, “Hey man, what’s up?” when we saw each other. Also, for the greater period of the time I knew him, I was starting to go the route of getting away from my addictions, and I was unable to hang around with people who were partying. And people know about Jeff‘s drinking, and that’s unfortunately what led to his death. It was liver failure. And you know, getting bitten by a spider, that’s just random. But I think because Jeff was kind of unaware of what was going on and wore longsleeves all the time, no one else really saw his arm, and so no one said, “Dude, you’ve got a fucking problem going on here.” The sad thing is, we’ve lost a good guy and a mighty guitar player. But now what we need to ask is: What can be learned from this? How can we honor Jeff‘s life? And how can we use his unfortunate passing to help young people not go the same route? So the whole thing saddens me, but I also can’t act like we were best friends, because we weren’t. It was a similar thing with Dime [PANTERA guitarist Dimebag Darrell, who was murdered on stage in 2004], where it seemed like everybody jumped on his bandwagon after his death. I don’t want to do that.
Read the entire interview at Denver Westword.