By John Benson
Exactly three decades have passed since Dave Mustaine was unceremoniously dismissed from Metallica, the thrash metal band he helped found.
Whereas many fired musicians become a footnote to history, Mustaine wasn’t about to let that happen. In the same year, he founded thrash metal act Megadeth, which by the end of the ’80s and into the ’90s enjoyed a string of five consecutive platinum and multiplatinum albums with “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying,” “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due,” “Symphony of Destruction” and “Sweating Bullets.”
Overall, the outfit scored five Top 10 albums, two Top 5 releases, 11 Grammy Award-nominations and sales of more than 38 million albums worldwide. Today, Megadeth is still going strong supporting its 14th studio effort “Super Collider” with a summer jaunt on the band’s own Gigantour, which includes Black Label Society, Device and more. The head-banging show comes to Covelli Centre on Wednesday.
The Vindicator talked to Mustaine about his foray into comedy, last year’s controversial President Obama comments and what it’s like being a 51-year-old thrash metal guitarist.
Q. Just finished watching your Funny or Die comedy bit “Megadeth Warehouse,” which spoofs your Facebook post lambasting Men’s Wearhouse for bad customer service. How much fun was that to do?
A. The funny thing is when we were filming that day, [Men’s Wearhouse founder] George Zimmer was dismissed. I was like, “That sucks. I didn’t want anything to happen to him,” but talk about uncanny timing.
Q. What’s hilarious is smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G is giving you the business.
A. We’re friends. We have the same manager.
Q. How do you think Kenny G would be received at Gigantour?
A. Not well [laughs]. He’s a shredding player, don’t get me wrong. I watched him live with an orchestra and I was blown away.
Q. Speaking of Gigantour, why is the package tour still popular nearly a decade after its inception?
A. I think it’s probably the quality of the bands being fresh. If you go to a concert and you’re not getting overwhelmed with 30 bands playing for 10 minutes each. That’s kind of cool. Also, we try to keep ticket prices and merchandise affordable for fans. We’ll go into certain market places that other big festivals won’t.
Q. Congrats on Megadeth’s latest album “Super Collider.” What was the band hoping to accomplish with the album?
A. We wanted to really have fun doing this record. As you get along farther in your career, most people don’t have the luxury of making 14 records. And if they do, they’re not all really significant records. Some of them are just fulfilling a record contract. So we wanted to because we’ve had so much success and we’ve accomplished so many things. This time it really was about going back to our roots playing music that had heaviness to it and melody.
Q. Last year, you were in the news for controversial comments about President Obama in relation to the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings. Despite being the lead story for a brief news cycle, what people seemed to forget is that you’ve been outspoken against the government for decades.
A. I think what people forget about speed metal and thrash metal is it’s basically punk rock with long hair, and any good punk rock band is going to have something to say about authority. Granted, a lot of things I say, people take exception with. With this new record, I kind of turned the news off because it was really souring my attitude. I’ve never really been that kind of guy who was the conspiracy nut or anything like that. The song “Hanger 18,” Nick Menza wrote about aliens. I don’t believe in Martians. People think there are things that I say, but a lot of it I don’t.
Q. Finally, what’s it like being a 50-something speed metal guitar player?
A. Playing speed metal is like any other sport. It’s just playing guitar and having fun. You don’t really realize what you’re doing. They show those kids from Kenya who just run and run and run, and it’s all they know. It’s like that. You just love it. To them, it’s enjoyable. For me, it’s marathon guitar playing.