“Met Al Metal” — Israel’s metal radio show hosted by brothers Lior and Niv Peleg — conducted an interview with MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine ahead of what was supposed to be the band’s August 6 appearance in the country (since canceled due to ongoing security issues in the area). You can now listen to the chat in the YouTube clip below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On whether there is anything else he could have done had he not chosen to pursue a career in music:
Mustaine: “Oh, yeah. I love teaching people stuff. It’s no secret how dedicated I am to our fanbase. A lot of fans, they know, they’ve had experiences with me where we’ve talked a lot. I see a lot of musicians who, they act like they care, but do they really go out on a limb for them and spend their time…? I remember several times standing out after a concert, wet hair and it’s either snowing or raining, and I’m outside my bus signing autographs. That’s the stuff that’s important. It’s not the stuff that’s easy to do. Because the easy stuff is… anybody can do it. It’s the hard stuff that makes it valuable at the end of the day. What would I do if I wasn’t a musician? I’d probably be a teached. ‘Cause I used to teach martial arts, and I’ve been a guitar teacher for… [chuckles] Ever since MEGADETH started, I’ve always had to show the new guy the parts.”
On whether he has any regrets about certain aspects of his career and whether there are things he would have done differently if he had a chance to do them all over again:
Mustaine: “Oh, sure. I would love to have said goodbye to [original MEGADETH drummer] Gar Samuelson before he passed away. There’s a couple of things I wouldn’t have done myself, like ODing and I probably wouldn’t have punched James [Hetfield, METALLICA fronman] in the mouth. There’s a lot of stuff. You look back in hindsight and you think, ‘God, I probably should have done that differently.’ But, see, that’s the importance of when you have someone in your life as a role model to help you. There’s an ancient Asian proverb that says, ‘A smart man learns from his mistakes, but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.’ Who knows? That may be from the Book Of Proverbs; I don’t know where it originated from. But I would rather learn from your mistakes than my mistakes, because it’s less painful that way. I think that because I’ve shared my life and a lot of the things that I’ve done right and wrong, it’s helped a lot of our fans in their personal lives and definitely a lot of musicians too. Because, I mean, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and it’s fairly obvious to anybody that has a brain that people have been trying to hold me back.”
On his take on what’s going on in the Middle East right now:
Mustaine: “Let me just correct one thing. [The MEGADETH song ‘Holy Wars’] wasn’t specifically about Israel. That song was about the IRA. And it was saying, ‘Don’t look to Israel to be the place where the conflict is, because it’s right under your own nose. It can be wherever you’re at.’ You know, terrorism is something that… I believe the rules of fighting have changed. When you see a soldier that will get in front of a baby carriage to protect the child and the mom, that’s honor. When you see a soldier get behind the carriage and the mom and hide like a coward, that’s not not honor. When they start going into hospitals and schools and shooting people in there and fighting from there, that’s not honor. There were rules that we used to fight, there was honor with the warriors, and we just don’t have that anymore. And, to me, I think that it’s much more, I believe, it’s much more honoring when you have two combatants that will fight in the open instead of somebody hiding. But that’s just me. That has to do a lot with my martial arts upbringing, that has to do a lot with the way that I’ve solved conflicts. There were a couple of times in my career where I’ve had some other musicians that have called me out about stuff, and I’ve gone right up to them, and I said, ‘Look, if you wanna settle this, we can settle this in the ring, and we’ll do it like gentlemen.’ And we ended up talking it out. And I think because of me having the courage to go up to somebody instead of going, like, ‘Ah, you’re a pussy. You’re this. You’re that.’ That stuff doesn’t help, especially when it’s a guy in a band that you really like and, unfortunately, something’s happened. A lot of times, the press and the media sometimes get it wrong and they’ll say stuff… Like, from my language into somebody else’s mother tongue and when they may re-translate it back again… For example, if I did an interview and it was translated into Spanish and then back from Spanish into English, man, it could totally change. It could go from saying, like, ‘I think that guy is crazy’ to ‘I think that guy’s retarded.’ And there’a a total difference between, like, ‘Get crazy,’ you know, like Ozzy says, and ‘Get retarded.’ You know what I mean?! [laughs]”
On his refusal to share the stage with the openly Satanic Swedish metal act DISSECTION at an Israeli festival back in 2005:
Mustaine: “Well, the truth of the matter is when I first had gotten my life back in order back in 2002, I had made some changes. I had a severe injury to my arm, and when my career had stopped, it made me really take a hard sideways look at everything, and I figured, just for now, because I don’t really know a lot about what I’m doing, I wanna make sure that I don’t play with any bands that have junkies with them, because I can’t be around guys that are doing heroin because of the temptation, and because I’m trying to have something in my life that is a power greater than myself so that I’ll get myself back in shape. I don’t wanna be hanging around guys that are gonna be dangerous for me spiritually, because I had just decided that I was gonna start following a spiritual path. I figured I don’t wanna go back… ‘Cause I was into witchcraft and black magic and everything like that, so I know about that stuff. And I figured, you know what?! I’m just gonna try and avoid that stuff. I never said that I hated anybody; I just didn’t wanna play with them. And I was so curious to see the poster for the concert, because it was written in the Hebrew font, or script, or whatever you call it, and then I saw the band DISSECTION and I thought, ‘Well, that’s a cool name.’ And I looked it up and I went, ‘Uh-oh.’ So I told the promoter, I said, ‘Look, we can’t play. We’re not gonna play that festival.’ I never said, ‘Kick them off.’ That was the promoter’s mistake. The promoter kicked them off. It’s hard enough as it is in music to get concerts, so I would never kick a band off one of my shows; I would rather me not do it. And when I said, ‘Look, we don’t wanna do it,’ they, unfortunately, harmed that band. Regardless of whether the guy [DISSECTION mainman Jon Nödtveidt] was a convicted murderer, or that he was a Satanic person… We all have a little bit of darkness in us. Now, I never killed anybody — I killed a couple of guitars [laughs], but I never killed anybody. And the sad thing is at the end of the day, the poor guy ahd committed suicide, so he was a tortured soul. And I know that, for me, the reason that I turned to black magic and witchcraft and stuff like that was I had had spiritual abuse and so many things had been done wrong in my life and there was so much hypocrisy with the people that had said that they were Christians, or Catholic or whatever, they would say one thing and they would do something else. So I regretted having spent any time in a church and I really resented people who said that they believed in God, because you would see them do one thing and the next day they would do something else. And it’s just very confusing as a kid. And I think that’s why a lot of us end up being spiritually misled. And that’s probably part of the reason why that poor chap did that too. But, you know, we were supposed to play a show with them in France, and they didn’t get kicked off that show. You know, a lot of stuff went around about another band [Greek extreme metallers ROTTING CHRIST] that had a name that was kind of offensive to me. But, you know, that’s a personal thing. It has nothing to do with their band or their quality of music or them as a person.
“Guys, what you’ve gotta understand is my decision not to play with them doesn’t have anything to do with their value and worth as people, because I’m sure they’re probably really great people. Sometimes we name our bands stuff to get a reaction out of people, and it’s not really who or what we are. And there are bummers and there are consequences. Naming MEGADETH MEGADETH, I can’t even tell you how offensive it was… There’s a huge radio station in Los Angeles called KLOS and we had a done a song, and after the song was over, they go, ‘And that was a cover of an old ALICE COOPER song. Coming up next…’ They didn’t even say our name; they wouldn’t say ‘MEGADETH‘ on the radio. So it has nothing to do with the person’s worth or anything like that, because I believe we’re all valuable. It’s just a personal preference that I had at the time. I’ve learned a lot more now. So if the opportunity came up to play with bands that were contrary to my personal, political, spiritual or any kind of moral values that I have, that’s something between me and my relationship with God. I don’t push that on anybody anymore. At the beginning, I didn’t know and I wanted to play it safe. And I think that anybody who would judge me and say, ‘Ah, you know what?! Dave made a huge mistake. He just joined a new club and he didn’t know all the rules, so instead of breaking the rules, he said ‘fuck you’ to everybody.’ That’s not me, man. I like to do things right. So I played it safe, I learned a lot about it and I’ve opened my mind up to it.”