In a recent interview with The Metal Voice, producer Max Norman looked back on working on the 1992 MEGADETH album Countdown to Extinction, saying that Dave Mustaine wanted to “backstab” him and take some of his production credits.
Norman worked with MEGADETH on three albums — Countdown to Extinction (1992), Youthanasia (1994), Hidden Treasures (1995). Before the records produced by Norman, Mustaine was credited as the co-producer of all MEGADETH albums.
When asked if Dave was really a co-producer or was his name standing in the credits for sake of it, Norman responded: “Well, I remember Dave said to me on Countdown, when we started to do Countdown, he said, ‘I want you to teach me how to produce.’ And I said, ‘I really can’t teach you that, you just got to pay attention. I can’t teach you how to do it, you just got to pay attention and learn the best you can…’
“Right at the end of that album, after it was mixed and it was about two weeks before its release, I got a call from my attorney, Joe Serling in New York. I was in LA at the time, and he said, ‘OK, all the final contracts are done, and I made the change to the production credit.’ And I said, ‘What changed?’ And he said, ‘You know, ‘produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman.” And I said, ‘Whoa, whoa! No, no.’ And I called Dave and I said, ‘Hey, you just f*cked me by changing the credit right at the end, and they’ve already printed 400,000 copies of this! How about I junk the f*cking record right now?’
“And he started freaking out. He said, ‘Dude, dude, it’s a mistake!’ And I knew it wasn’t a mistake. It was a little bit of a backstab, and I got very, very upset about it. I said, ‘Listen, you wrote all the songs, you sing all the songs, you play on it, I gave you a co-production credit, and now you’re stealing my credit? That’s not right.’
“I said, ‘I’m the engineer producer, you’re the co-producer,” he continued. “You flip that back right now, or it’s going to be a real, real big problem. I’ll call the label right now, I’ll call Capitol right now and tell them that it’s not coming out.’ And they already had like 450,000 out in the stores, so it was a real mess, and it took me quite a while to stop being pissed off about that. And Dave kept apologizing…
“‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ ‘It was a mistake.’ ‘I don’t know what happened.’ And I was like, ‘You’re so full of sh*t. You did it on purpose, I know why you did it. Don’t ever f*cking try it again.’ I don’t think that on Countdown, that Dave was really a co-producer, but I gave him a co-producer credit anyway because, you know, I’ve been a nice guy, I guess.”
Asked if that come with points [royalties], Norman said: “Well, it doesn’t come off of my points. [Laughs] I don’t know what deal he had — probably doesn’t come with points, but he’s already getting a lot of points anyway, and I don’t know how that breaks down on his end.
“And then Youthanasia, we were going to do originally do Youthanasia in a house somewhere in Phoenix, and we went and looked at a bunch of different houses, and we just decided to build a studio instead. There was only really one studio that was suitable in Phoenix, and it really wasn’t that suitable, and then the guy gave us an enormous quote for it because he knew it was MEGADETH and he wanted to make a killing on the studio. So we decided to just go build one, and that’s the whole story behind that one.”
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