Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 | 2 a.m.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center will be a snapshot of classic heavy metal’s heyday on Thursday when Iron Maiden and Megadeth take the stage. The show is part of Iron Maiden’s world tour and its first Las Vegas show in 13 years.
For Megadeth, it’s part of a very productive year that includes the release of the album “Super Collider” and planning an orchestral concert in San Diego.
I talked with Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine about the album, playing Las Vegas and the expectations of heavy metal fandom.
Now that it’s been out a couple of months, how are you feeling about the reception on “Super Collider”?
Well, a record is that — a record, a piece of time. I was going through a lot of really cool stuff with the band but a lot of really heavy, personal stuff with my mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s. So people like some songs, don’t like others, and that’s always been the way with Megadeth’s fans. They’re opinionated. I think when you have a band that doesn’t really follow a set formula, people are going to react to certain songs and not to other songs. I mean, the very first song we ever did, we started with piano. Who would’ve ever thought that?
And there’s already been buzz about starting work on the next album?
I do want to continue to write. I think it’s fun to write songs, and as a musician, sometimes you’ve got something stuck in your soul that you gotta get out. (“Forget to Remember” on “Super Collider”) is this whole process of watching this loved one in my family just melt in front of your eyes; it’s hard. It really, really challenged what I was made of; she’s still alive, but she’s not there anymore. And how do you put that in a song if it’s not going to be a sad song? It’d be pretty f*%% up to make a happy song about something tragic.
So, yeah, we always have a lot of stuff we want to write about. I think it comes in due time. We’re always picking up the guitar and making noises; sometimes it’s a cool riff, and you’re (saying), “Tape that real quick,” and other times it’s, “Stop” (laughs). And that’s the great thing when you’re close like we are. We’re four guys who are really, really close, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone into the jam room and told Chris (Broderick, Megadeth guitarist) to knock it off, and he’ll do the same solo for an hour and a half straight. It’s Chinese water torture (laughs).
Do you ever feel the new stuff has to compete with your past successes or even just with nostalgia?
I don’t feel like that, but some fans certainly act like that. We always hear, “Make ‘Rust in Peace’ again.” It’d be real easy to do it, but where’s the artistic integrity of doing that? And people say, “You should get Marty (Friedman, former Megadeth guitarist) back in the band.” Marty doesn’t want to be in Megadeth. He quit, he’s a quitter, so get over it. And Nick (Menza, former Megadeth drummer) isn’t very healthy. Look at any of the video clips of him lately. So it’s like either you’re stupid or you’re a dreamer.
And when you make a record, you don’t stake your whole life on the success or failure of any one song. Some people like it, some don’t. (“Super Collider”) entered the charts at No. 6. If that’s something to be critical of, then bring it. I’ll take that all day long.
With “Super Collider’s” release, Gigantour in the summer and touring with Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, do you have time to eat, sleep and breathe?
Of course. I think that people underestimate how much time you have on your hands when you are a musician. We’re also working on a symphony with the San Diego Symphony for next April. We’re talking about the release of the “Countdown to Extinction: Live” DVD later on this month; there’s a lot of stuff. And there’s also another U.S. tour at the end of the year.
Is the symphony concert locked in yet?
It’s happening — April 14 of next year. A couple of Vivaldi tracks, “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Hall of the Mountain King” or “Night on Bald Mountain.” We’re doing kinda dark, kinda scary classical songs to do a track with me doing the principal violin part on guitar.
Sounds like a very different kind of experience.
When you see the orchestra, it’s a great sonic experience, and that’s the main thing I’m concerned about, along with making sure the electric guitar isn’t too loud with all the other instruments. There are so many amazing sounds that come out of the orchestra. You know, if you're a metal fan and you’ve never seen an orchestra, then you won’t get where a lot of the dark, classical sounds in metal come from, but a lot of it comes from classical. Classical is, really, honestly, the first “heavy metal.”
Artists like Motley Crue and Guns ’N’ Roses have done acclaimed local residencies. If you ever found the right fit in Las Vegas, could you see Megadeth doing a bunch of shows like that? Or is the tour life too alluring?
I’ve never considered that, so I’ve gotta tell you, honestly, I don’t know. But I’m open to suggestions to a lot of things. I just don’t want anybody to think they can cage this animal (laughs). Megadeth, because it’s always morphing and always changing, you never know what you’re going to get. When we did the setlist the other night, people didn’t really expect it. They thought we would open with “Trust,” and we opened with “Hangar 18.” And I think this is cool, but with all this social media stuff, people will instantly react and let you know what they’re thinking.
Do you take a hands-on approach with social?
I do. I think it’d be weird to have someone trying to do my one-liners (laughs). Also, just because of who I am, I can’t really say anything without people misinterpreting it or turning it into some kind of hate speech. (Some people) have way too much time on their hands.
Is that something you deal with every day?
Well, yeah, there are certain people in music who just polarize people. And I’m one of them. People either love me or hate me. I don’t hate anybody. I’m not particularly fond of the devil, but I don’t hate anybody. And I think it’s a bummer because hate destroys the hater, and life is too short for that. We’ve got a great metal community; the people who listen to metal music have a lot of cool things in common that gives us this bond. That’s the kind of crap you see in hip hop, where people are hating on each other, or Tiger Beat people bellyaching about one boy band going on about another, you know?
Megadeth comes through Las Vegas fairly often compared to a lot of its contemporaries. Is there anything you enjoy — or don’t — about Las Vegas in particular?
The shrimp cocktails — just kidding (laughs). I didn’t notice that we go to Vegas; it’s not like we particularly single it out since it’s usually part of a tour. Maybe other people just don’t see the value of Las Vegas. Maybe they kind of see it as a glitzy showbiz town. If you live in Hawaii, it doesn’t mean you surf every day, and just because you live in Las Vegas, the showbiz capital of the world, it doesn’t mean you’re watching Siegfried & Roy every night (laughs). I look at it as another good old American city with great people who love to see good concerts.
Megadeth and Iron Maiden are at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Thursday night.
Jorge Labrador is the news assistant for Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of Las Vegas Sun.
Jorge Labrador is the news assistant for Las Vegas Magazine, a sister publication of the Las Vegas Sun.