“Well, it’s different in every band. And I think every setting is different. I’ve worked in groups where it’s ‘all for one, one for all.’ I’ve worked in groups where, you know, after a while, the roles define themselves, and you realize, me and the guitar player or the singer are the guys doing most of the writing, so do we really wanna share it with everybody? Well, if you’re not willing to show up and be part of the process, then, no, we don’t want [to]. MEGADETH, from Day One, has been about he who writes is part of that. I’m not at liberty to disclose MEGADETH‘s financials, but we’ve gone through many, many different scenarios with that. And we’ve tried to find a scenario, probably… And it really goes record by record. We just try to find something that’s fair for everybody, that everybody feels good about, because if you’re a group, and you’re out on the road, and you’re touring to support something, and you’e gonna be out there for a year or two in support of a record, it’s important that people feel a part of things too. That’s, I think, probably the hardest thing with a group, especially a group that’s been around for many, many years, is there’s very much a mission statement, there’s a core collective to the group now. And there’s always some new members. Are new members entitled to as much as long-term members? So there’s all these questions and things that, I think, more importantly, you have to discuss as a group [and come to] some kind of a resolution on that, so that you feel good about it. And I think probably every band… every group of two or more musicians has to deal with that exact subject at some point in their journey… There’s other scenarios too, where you see the first album, all five guys in the band get writing credit and probably share the ownership. And then, when that record blows through the roof and sells millions and everybody makes money and… If being broke doesn’t hurt a band, making a ton of money certainly will. [Laughs] Then the next album, you see, oh, one guy wrote this song. Or only two guys wrote that song. So, all of sudden, the brotherly love of ‘we’re all in it together,’ that ended as soon as the millions started coming in. I wrote about that in my autobiography, about how seeing other people make money from songwriting is certainly a good motivator to learn the craft of songwriting. But it should not be the sole motivation. Like, ‘I just wanna make more money. Let me start writing songs.’ Because some people have a natural gift at writing, and other people just don’t; it’s not their thing. And, I think, when you’re in a setting where there’s a person, or persons, who have the gift of writing, you really have to appreciate that and be able to just kind of get on board with that, because, without those songs, you’re not gonna have any success. I’m sure the E STREET BAND is very thankful Bruce Springsteen can write hits. You know what I mean?! And I just use that as an example. I have no idea what their financials are. One really great songwriter can really provide a tremendous living and a tremendous experience for all the supporting people around — the musicians, the managers, all the team that it takes to put that act together and get that show on the road. So, at some level, even if you’re not the biggest earner in the group, learn to be thankful that you at least get to be a part of it.”
On how his contributions to a band go beyond songwriting:
“For whatever reason, this musical gift was put upon me at a very young age, that I discovered at age 11, and I pretty quickly realized I was not only pretty good at playing the bass, I was also really good at being very diplomatic and being a good ambassador, and, in a lot of senarios, being a really, really good leader [and getting] people to march in the same direction. And that’s not always easy to do. It’s one of the toughest things to do — to keep a group of creative people together to achieve something bigger, greater than the sum of its parts. It’s funny… There’s a certain kind of guy who plays the guitar, there’s a certain kind of guy who plays the bass, there’s a certain kind of guy who’s a drummer, a keyboard player, a horn player… whatever… a singer. And it’s funny because… All those different personalities are needed to fill the roles of what will become a musical group. I have almost felt like… I don’t know if people choose their instruments or instruments choose people. Because it’s almost like a certain person plays the French horn, a certain person plays the lead guitar. You know what I mean?! There’s a personality behind them. The trick is to get all those personalities to work together. Because certainly if you’ve had success, people are often more inspired to continue on. But sometimes it’s in those darkest… the dark nights on a lonely bus, or a lonely van, somewhere in the world slugging it out trying to fulfill the dream. But I do know this: If the dream hs been put upon your heart, look out. Because it will dominate, direct and control your life.”
On whether it’s safe to say that any musiciasn wanting to play in MEGADETH must get along with Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson:
“Yeah, I think so. For sure. I mean, Dave is definitely… He’s very much the musical director, for sure. And it starts and stops there, for sure. I think, it’s been said, ‘If you can’t get along with David Ellefson, then you can’t get along with anybody.’ [Laughs] So I’m definitely the barometer. ‘Look, if you can’t work shit out with Ellefson, out! Get out! Get the hell outta here. We don’t want you.’ It’s really interesting that Dave and I have such… very different personalities, but we so want the exact same thing. Dave and I had a thing years ago that we said, that if the two of us always agree on everything, then one of us is unnecessary. So I think the beauty, for us, is being able to agree to disagree, and let our strengths complement each other.”
The band has yet to officially announce replacements for drummer Shawn Drover and guitarist Chris Broderick, who quit the group last year.