Phil Freeman of MSN‘s metal music section Headbang recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine about the just-released expanded, commemorative 25th-anniversary reissue edition of “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?”A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Headbang: What’s your most vivid memory of the “Peace Sells” sessions?
Mustaine: Well, there’s a lot of stuff that was very vivid. I mean we’re talking about us starting to make money and having four functioning heroin addicts in the band. We would roll up to the studio and one of the band members would be slouched in the doorway waiting for us to take him to the methadone clinic — or downtown, as the case may be. Listening to the songs it’s amazing, cause I listen to Chris Poland‘s guitar playing and his rhythm playing and it’s so staccato, so perfectly picked and stuff like that — it almost borders on not cool, but mixed along with the sloppiness of my guitar playing, it really has a dangerous element to it. And then listening to a lot of the guitar solos, man, we were really a dangerous band back then.
Headbang: Nowadays thrash is a codified style of playing guitar, but when you were doing it in the ’80s, you were inventing it as you went along. Were you a conventional hard rock/metal guitar player when you started out, and how did you begin to put together your speed metal style?
Mustaine: Well, the stuff that I liked growing up was AC/DC, LED ZEPPELIN, but I also liked THE BEATLES and guys like CAT STEVENS and ELTON JOHN. The music I liked was very eclectic. A lot of it was from the British Invasion. The guitar influence that affected my songwriting came from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. So I would have to say my whole style is supported around the whole blues thing, and going into making a thrash style…I guess because I had such a horrible life growing up, going from place to place not knowing what I was gonna do and ending up being homeless, there was a lot of pain and a lot of anger that was coming out through my guitar playing. I listen to other people play guitar, and when they play it, they can make it sound beautiful and write real pretty songs and stuff like that. I’m just incapable of doing that. I have this built-in governor that when the song gets a little too happy, something in the back of my head just goes, “Crap,” and just stops it. I can’t proceed with it. I don’t know why.
Headbang: The song “Peace Sells” is the only really politically or socially conscious song on the record — how did it wind up becoming the title track?
Mustaine: I don’t really know — probably because it was the strongest title. The title actually came from me; I was homeless at the time, living in a warehouse that we were doing our rehearsals in, and there was a girl who took pity on me and every once in a while would call up and ask me to come over, and we would spend the night together and she’d feed me and I’d get cleaned up and stuff like that. And I woke up one morning and I saw a magazine on her nightstand and it said, “Peace sells, but nobody’s buying it.” And I went, “Oh my God, I gotta write a song about that.” So I changed the words around a little bit and I started writing the song, but of course I was living at the rehearsal building like I said, so I had no paper, and I took a pen and wrote the lyrics on the wall there. To this day, I still wonder if the lady who had that rehearsal building was smart enough to cut that wall out and immortalize it.
Read the entire interview from Headbang.