“I think about the transition we’ve been making recently with our songs and our album. You know, Killing Is My Business… same singer, same approach, but a little bit different protection of my voice now.”
Dave Mustaine, the lead vocalist and primary songwriter for the band Megadeth, reflects on nearing the end of the current leg of the band’s “Crush The World” Tour. Having fronted the band since their formation in 1983, Mustaine has continued to run a near nonstop workload which has included releasing 16 studio albums and a seemingly constant tour schedule.
And while the band marches into what is the 40th year since their formation, Mustaine waxes on about that longevity. Comparing their 2022 album The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! with their first release Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! Mustaine talks about the recent work he has put in to tweak his work for the better.
“I used to have a couple notes I couldn’t hit on our records or on our set lists that we play live, and it would be something where we’d get to that part and I’d hit it really hard to get it to work. But my singing voice is something I started working on with the last record which has led to finding myself really being able to open up our catalog for songs we can play live.”
At 62 years old, Mustaine is a cancer survivor (“29 doses of radiation and 9 doses of chemo. There may have been more, that’s just what I remember,” he says). He has outlived not only many of the bands that Megadeth came up with in the thrash metal scene, but entire eras of music such as CDs and MTV! Throughout it, Mustaine has been the only consistent member of the band.
“If you’re going to be in business for a long period of time, it only stands to reason there’s going to be some conflict,” he says. However, the band’s most recent member change has been Finnish guitar player Teemu Mäntysaari covering on tour for Kiko Loureiro who stepped away to prioritize his family.
“Kiko said, ‘Look, I need to be home with the family more than I need to be somewhere onstage,’ and I heard him loud and clear. He has my total support,” Mustaine describes, himself married and with children.
As Megadeth nears the end of six months on the road with a Thursday night show at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino’s Grand Theater in Reno, followed by an appearance at Sacramento’s Aftershock Music Festival, Mustaine says the small breaks in the tour schedule allow he and the members to gain some needed perspective and refuel before dedicating themselves to music again.
“Sting said that: you need to live life in between records.”
Though one would be hard pressed to accuse Mustaine and Megadeth of softening over the years. The musician has made an effort to cut out harmful substances that affected him in the past. And while The Sick, The Dying… and the Dead! is loaded with the band’s thrash metal guitars, Mustaine does admit his soft spot for reworking some of the group’s more melodic songs back into their set list.
“Everything can’t be breakneck, balls to the wall speed metal. Sometimes you need songs like “Diadems” which is a very dynamic, flowing song. It makes me happy to hear those melodic tracks.”
While having gone through lineup changes, and publicized addiction issues, and being open about the evolution of his personal beliefs over that time, Mustaine has gone through what was needed to keep Megadeth releasing new music and bringing that music to stages throughout the world. It may not have been the least bumpy road, but the fact that they are still putting out music with the tenacity and cerebral aggression of their early work is testament to Mustaine’s efforts.
“When I was first starting to write songs, I wrote everything that I had in my mind and in my heart on paper.” Mustaine pauses for a moment laughing at what a different era it feels remembering scribbling down song ideas in physical form.
“Our band was primarly a live band with studio albums in the beginning. That’s how we wanted to go down,” he describes. And over the decades, through the ins and outs, seemingly eras later, Megadeth being a powerful live band remains the same. “We loved playing. And it’s at the point where we’re right back there. We love to play!”
Megadeth with openers Biohazard play at the Grand Sierra Casino and Resort on Thursday, October 5th.
Tickets available here.