STEVE DIGIORGIO Says DAVE MUSTAINE Was ‘Awesome’ To Work With On MEGADETH’s Latest Album

Dave Mustaine Steve DiGiorgio

While being a guest on the “Into The Combine” podcast, legendary metal bassist Steve DiGiorgio discussed his contribution to MEGADETH‘s most recent album, The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!

The well-established TESTAMENT bass player briefly filled in to lay down the bass lines for MEGADETH’s next album after 2016’s Dystopia in summer 2021, following the departure of David Ellefson. As MEGADETH‘s tour started a few months afterward, former MEGADETH member James LoMenzo returned to the band group as the full-time bassist.

On how he approached recording of The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!, DiGiorgio said: “Riff-wise, you know the riff style, so it wasn’t an over-the-top, brutal, technical death metal band that doesn’t ever repeat any line. The riff information was in my wheelhouse, obviously, but what I realized is… From my background and my road that took me there, I wasn’t equipped all the way to be in an arena that big. The pressure was huge. And maybe a lot of that was self-imposed, but that kept me on my best behavior. And I put my nose to the grindstone, and I wanted to leave a good mark.

“I wanted Dave [MustaineMEGADETH mainman] to be proud of his decision. He picked me, and he told me on the phone he didn’t really have a list [of other bass players that he could reach out to]. He’s, like, ‘If you can’t, I don’t have the two and three written down.’ He goes, ‘I’ve gotta kind of start over.’ And so I when I got off the phone, [I went], ‘Holy s**t. That’s huge. I’m it.’ So I tried to stop saying ‘Why me?’ and say, ‘Okay. It’s me. Let’s go. Let’s do this the right way.'”

“It was brutal,” he continued. “But the cool thing was [Dave] treated me awesomely. He gave me absolutely all the room to learn the stuff. I can’t say I didn’t hear the songs before I got [to the studio], because he did send me a folder and I could listen to the songs. Even just asking me to do it, they were already at that point, so it wasn’t, like, ‘Yeah, four months later we’ll…’ No. It was, like, ‘As soon as you say ‘Yeah’, get here.’ So I didn’t have any time to sit down and work out anything. And I didn’t really want to anyway. I mean, it’s MEGADETH, so you weren’t gonna get [DEATH‘s] Individual Thought Patterns [-style playing] on that album. I’m not that naïve. I’m, like, ‘I’m going in to do MEGADETH. I know more or less what he wants. He wants MEGADETH bass.’ But he did choose me. So I’m, like, ‘Let’s see what he wants. So let me just go into this completely unprepared and see what he wants.’ And he was f**king great.

Steve added: “A lot of people — and I’ve heard it, and you probably have heard it; Dave stories are out there and everything. My experience, I can’t validate any of that, because I was in the studio for, like, 13 days and gone. And for every single day I was there, he was an awesome human being. We got along great. We played great. He pushed me and he pulled me, but when it was done, he let me know it was done. It was a big high five and a hug, and we had a celebratory meal. I wanted to cook for him, but when you’re there doing bass, it’s, like, you’ve gotta do bass. So one night I managed to… they were working on something else and I cooked something, so we had a nice DiGiorgio feast.

“But it went very well. [Dave] was very generous, very gracious,” he added. “He gave me space to do stuff. And I told him flat out: ‘Look, I want to use a pick. I know I need to use a pick.’ I said, ‘But I’m not super proficient with it. It’s not my strong point.’ I’m not a predominantly pick player. I break one out on a TESTAMENT song here and there. It’s more like a novelty. Well… there’s a sonic benefit to it. There’s a [TESTAMENT] song called ‘Electric Crown’; it’s just got this steady rock kind of thing. I [use a] pick on that one, and there’s a couple of others here and there. So one percent of the time I use a pick. I use a pick for one song for just the effect of it, but very little. And I told [Dave] that. I said, ‘Hopefully we don’t have this big hole in the road or whatever.’ And he said, ‘However it comes out of you, that’s what we need.’ And so I did a little mixture.

“A lot of the speed stuff, I could get that thing going and then nail it down, and that was the majority of it… And he didn’t stare at me or nothing, so sometimes I’d put the pick down and I’d play it, and I’d see that nod, like, ‘Okay, that sounds good.’ So there’s a few parts on there where I got to do my thing like that. But that’s how he was, like, ‘Whatever works for you.’ And so that whole, ‘Was he a tyrant in the studio? Did he force you…? Did he make you…?’ No, he was f**king great to work with. So it turned out to be cool. It was a f**king amazing experience.

“I had to pinch myself when I drove away from that studio, like, ‘Holy crap. I did it. I made it out alive.’ But that was self-imposed. I don’t mean ‘I made it out alive…’ They made sure I stayed alive. They took great care of me. The management team, Dave, his engineer Chris and his assistant Brian there, everyone was awesome. And I’ve got nothing but good [things] to say about that session. It was, like I said, two weeks — in and out. But it went great.”