The World According To Dave Mustaine

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David Scott Mustaine celebrates his landmark 50th birthday on September 13. A legend of thrash metal, Dave Mustaine has survived every challenge his colorful life has thrown at him: substance abuse, black magic, an arm injury that threatened his career, rooming with Lars Ulrich… and much more.

The first lead guitarist in a young Metallica, Mustaine formed Megadeth in 1983 after being fired from Metallica for sobriety issues. But as frontman, main composer, lyricist and mouthpiece of Megadeth, Mustaine hit gold. He is currently preparing for the release of the band’s 13th album (to be called Th1rt3en).

An acclaimed rhythm and lead guitarist, Mustaine has long been sober but his views remain as uncompromising as his music. Not even all Megadeth fans agree with Mustaine 24/7, but when Dave Mustaine speaks, metalheads listen.

Here is The World According to Dave Mustaine…

On why he hired jazz-influenced drummer, the late Gar Samuelsson, for the first incarnation of Megadeth…

“I like jazz a lot,” he told “But I got Gar Samuelsson because he came to rehearsal and he fell asleep and his cigarette burned clean through his fingers. And I went, ‘F--k that’s metal!’ I thought, ‘This guy’s gonna be into cattle prods and stuff!’ So we hired him.”

On his flirtation with black magic and why he will never play “The Conjuring” (from Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?) again…

“I promised that I wouldn’t play it any more because there’s a lot of instructions for hexes in that song,” he told Total Guitar in 2010. “Although it seems kinda corny, anybody who’s a Wiccan or a warlock or anything like that will know that all of that stuff is instrumental.

“When I got into black magic I put a couple of spells on people when I was a teenager and it haunted me forever, and I’ve had so much torment… It wasn’t that I was a bad guy or that I had a big mouth, it was that I got into witchcraft and black magic and it ruined my life. Fortunately for me, with all the work and the love of my friends, and not giving up with my guitar playing, I got over it. So I look back now and I think, ‘Hmm, I don’t wanna play “The Conjuring.”’”

On how his Christianity later boosted his confidence…

“My faith has been restored in a creator who has given me a lot of good stuff,” Mustaine told Metal Hammer. “The gift I have in me is, like, I’m better at writing music for this particular genre than just about anybody. There’s only a couple other musicians that write music for this genre who are equivalent to me.”

On his abilities as a guitarist…

Mustaine told “I can share what I know… but I don’t know what it is I know… When a solo is too long, you should stop. As good as the ‘Freebird’ [Lynyrd Skynyrd] solo is, it’s too long.”

And classic Mustaine: “Some players like to make their guitar sing. I like to punch it in the stomach.”

Answering fan questions at Guitar Center (in 2007) about Megadeth’s ever-changing line-up…

“I don’t like band changes. It’s really uncomfortable, and you have to remember somebody else’s name.” Mustaine also added, “When I heard they fired that guy from Bon Jovi, I thought, ‘Why didn’t you fire ’em all?’”

On his battles with injuries...

“I have stenosis in my back. Stenosis is where the vertebra has an opening on the side, and the nerve comes out. The vertebra is closing in on the nerve. So that’s what’s going on with my neck and the weight of the guitar. With my arm, that was called Saturday Night Palsy, and I’d had my arm over the back of a chair, and I’d fallen asleep, and it had cut off the circulation to the nerve on the inside of my arm there, and the muscles inside of my brain stopped talking to the brain. It’s two different injuries.”

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On his 100% recovery from his arm injury and re-learning the guitar…

“It took a while to play again,” Mustaine told “I actually had to get lessons to learn how to play again. It was very humbling, I had created a guitar style, I had invented a particular chord-threading pattern, I was responsible for being the founding member of two of the greatest heavy metal bands in North America, and now I am asking someone to show me an E chord.”

On trying to get the perfect sound…

“Amplifiers are as different as women… their tubes warm up at different rates.”

On his alleged ill-temper…

“More often than not I am feeling pretty good and I enjoy my life. But if I had to put my frustrating moments onto one record it would be a triple live CD.”

On his now-infamous appearance in Metallica’s “rockumentary” Some Kind of Monster…

“The movie was a very negative, ugly look into the private side of some people who were heroes to a lot of people,” Mustaine told “That’s always why they say, don’t meet your heroes, you might be disappointed. When that part was filmed, it was September 13, two days after our country had just been attacked. September 13 of that year, I turned 40. Do you think that for my 40th birthday – a day when I was supposed to fly from Canada to my house to have dinner with my family, make love to my wife get a new Mercedes for my birthday – that I wanted to spend it with Lars? What kind of a cruel joke is that?” [Editor’s note: as you likely know, Mustaine and Metallica have now healed any conflicts.]

On Megadeth’s most-recent track, “Sudden Death,” that was the finale to 2010’s Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock game.

“I’m sure some fans will think it’s the greatest thing we’ve ever done. But other people will say it sucks,” Mustaine told Rolling Stone. “That’s just the way of the world.”

Mustaine ended up overdubbing more solos at game-makers Activision’s request. “Just the sheer repetitiveness of it can blow people’s minds. And my guitar style is way different than [fellow Megadeth guitarist] Chris Broderick. Chris plays with a lot of love and I play with a lot of hate. My guitar playing is explosions, and his is more like fireworks. When you are trying to emulate the two kinds of guitar styles, it’s tricky. I don’t care what anyone says, you’ve gotta be good.”

On whether he finds any limitations in heavy metal…

“My age [he was 48 at the time]. I’m totally serious. We just got done playing in Quito in Ecuador, and it’s 8,500 feet above sea level, and it’s hard singing that high above the ground! You think Denver’s hard, it’s like – ‘P-----s! Go to Quito!’”

On the imminent release of Megadeth’s Th1rte3n.

“I started playing guitar at 13 and this is our 13th record and I was born on the 13th,” Mustaine told Rock Radio (U.K.) in August. “As soon as I said I was going to call it 13, I started noticing 13 everywhere. They never used to have 13th floors in hotels but now they have them again.

“If I was going to say it sounds like a particular band, I would say it sounds like really old classic [Black] Sabbath and with a little bit of a modern edge of Queens of the Stone Age kind of thing. But then again, with the twists and turns of music that Megadeth has been famous for over the years, you never know how it’ll turn out.”

And Dave Mustaine’s best advice to an aspiring rock band?

To a Guitar Center audience, Mustaine said: “Be careful what you say in interviews.”

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