Alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, Megadeth is one of the “Big Four” of thrash metal. Front man Dave Mustaine has had his much-publicized ups and downs, and he’s had more than his share of detractors over the years. We found him to be charming, honest, witty and eloquent in conversation, willing to share some fun stories. Plus, the man loves Detroit and he’s here to play the Fillmore on Wednesday night, with Fear Factory also on the bill
What has Megadeth been up to since the release of new album Super-Collider?
Touring, working, playing and having a good time. We just crossed the seven million members mark on our Facebook page. We’ve been taking it to the people, making music and making friends as we go.
Is popularity on social media a mark of success for bands now, more so than chart placing?
I think it’s pretty relevant because it shows you that some bands have a couple of hundred following, some have a couple of thousand, some have 100,000. Then there are the players who really have a large following. So as much as I hate to say it, Facebook and the social media sites are really a living organism.
Do you have any particularly fun memories of playing Detroit?
Tons of great memories. Memories of drinking, partying and sex, hiring people and firing people, and all kinds of stuff like that. Detroit is just one of those great cities. It’s sad to see the decline that it’s in right now because I’ve been coming to Detroit for almost 30 years. We’re coming up on our 30th anniversary. I remember back when the Red Wings sucked. I remember when we used to play Blondies. Sitting in the parking lot before we went on stage was this young drummer, a very talented guy named Chuck Behler who ended up being our drum tech and actually later being our drummer for a while. He doesn’t play with us now but we’re still friends. We’ve transitioned from going to Blondies to places like Pine Knob and Joe Louis Arena.
Fans love the new album but critics have been harsh. Why do you think that is?
Critics have to listen to a whole bunch of records and don’t really have time to live with them like they used to when we were younger. They’ll listen to a record once. If it grabs them, they’ll say something about it. If it doesn’t, they’ll say something else about it. If somebody has said something good about it before, journalists nowadays can be impressed by a mob mentality. They’ll jump on the bandwagon instead of being an individual and having their own opinions. There’s also that psychosis where, if a guy doesn’t like a person and he listens to the record, then it can be a masterpiece and they’ll say it sucks. I know there have been a lot of misconceptions about me over the years and my autobiography cleared a lot of that up, but not everybody’s read it.
What’s next? You’ve hinted at retirement a few times
That was when I was unhappy with the people I was playing with. Right now, we have a band consisting of four players where the sum is greater than the parts. The band might have been my initial idea, but I can’t get my head around Megadeth being me alone because I love playing with the people in my band.