Thursday, August 6, 2009
Megadeth has remained a vital element in continuing to define and redefine the sound and the fury of metal music. When Dave Mustaine met up with David Ellefson in 1983, several months after Mustaine departed from Metallica, the musical beast they conceiv ed was Megadeth.
As co-founders of the band, Mustaine and Ellefson have devised a musical creature that, with each new album, forges new ground and stretches the very boundaries where metal lives. As the creative genius behind the music, Mustaine writes lyrics that are pr ofound and that analogous to his sharp, cynical view of modern society. "It's not like I am this frustrated bleeding anarchist," Mustaine remarks. "I am just telling a story of how my life is. I grew up in a broken home. I was latchkey kid. I want our fan s to have better lifestyle than the one I grew up in."
Mustaine's intelligence and talent, combined with those of Ellefson and the other players who have graced the formation of the band thoughout the years, have spawned authentic, raw, unruly music. "Our music is very stimulating, aggressive music, that cont ains influences all the way from blue to jazz fusion to speed and thrash metal", explains Mustaine. With intricate, furious guitar licks and heavy drums and bass, Megadeth continues to reign as a premier speed metal band of the 1990's, personifying metal music itself with every song reeling in ferocity, honesty and powerful thrash induced rhythms.
Their meteoric rise to forefront of the metal genre began in 1985 with Killing is my business... and business is good released on Combat records. This powerful debut propelled them straight into a deal with Capitol records. Their next album, Pe ace Sells... but who's buying, was released in september 1985. This sophomore release was a veritable onslaught of pure aggression and went gold.
In 1988 So far, so good... so what was released. The album was harder, more forceful and maintained an even punk feel, unleashing such monsters as "Mary Jane" and "Set the world afire."
After the So far, so good...so what album, with Nick Menza on drums and Marty Friedman on guitar, Megadeth began yielding songs, fueled by Mustaine's fierce intellect and supported by superior musicianship, that spiraled Megadeth towards its best a nd most creative period. "When the four of us got together and made the record Rust in Peace, we knew we were on to something special," says Ellefson.
"Since then we have really honed our sound and we have learned how to write and record together." The unique bond that resulted changed the face of Megadeth's future. "This lineup is more successful than any other because the vision is the same," says Dave Mustaine, a sentiment concurred by Marty Friedman who notes, "We are lucky because we are all a similar age, have a similar vision and share a chemistry. When the four of us strap on our instruments it just sounds like Megadeth." The four embrace a soulful commonality, especially regarding what their music is about. "We are focused and in alignment with what we wan
t to do and how we want to do it," says drummer Nick Menza. "We have always been the type of band that makes music for ourselves foremost. That is why there is so much substance to it. It is not contrived. It is real. It is reality."
Megadeth has done very well at bringing their music to new audiences. Countdown to extinction was released in 1992, taking them on a world tour. The year also saw Mustaine as a host on MTV for "Rock the vote" covering the Democratic Convention - a job which coincided perfectly with Mustaine's penchant for political commentary and social awareness. Also keeping the band in the limelight, the band's single, "Angry Again" from the Last Action Hero soundtrack made a major breaktrough and "99 way s to die", the lead track on the hugely successful The Beavis and Butthead Experience compilation album, became an MTV and metal radio staple.
The release of Youthanasia brought Megadeth to new heights and also to parts of the world never before ventured, including Israel and Eastern Europe. It represented a departure in many ways for the band. "Killing is my business... and business i s good" up to Countdown to Extinction were all written while performing previous material," explains Mustaine.
"Youthanasia was written totally and 100% in the studio. We weren't playing any old cataloged material. None of the past influenced the new record." The album contains songs that explore the depths of Mustaine's darker, deeper thoughts and feelings - songs such as, "The Family Tree" a song about child abuse and the deep pain of lost love described in "Addicted to Chaos" while also delving into his inner fear of nuclear war in "Black Curtains."
The band withstood controversy after controversy with the release of Youthanasia, "A tout le monde" being banned by MTV for its suicidal overtones. "This is coming from an institution that is supposedly for your mind and says that censorship is un- American," says Mustaine. "We don't write music that makes suggestions of taking one's own life. It's more saying - we have a problem here, let's be part of the solution." The cover art for the album, decipting babies hanging from clotheslines, caused a m ajor stir as well. "We never do anything for shock value or to get controversial press because that is basically a pain in the ass," says Marty Friedman. "We like it and that is what we wanted our album cover to be." Youthanasia has gone platinum.
The band released a new album, Hidden Treasures, in the UK an March 13, 1995 to coincide with the European leg of the Youth tour. In addition to a new Sex Pistols cover, the album contains songs only previously released on complation and soundtrack albums. A version off Hidden Treasures was released in Japan and the U.S. as well.
1995 also found the band on-line with Megadeth Arizona. "We use it as a communication tool between us and our fans. We are more accessible and more able to communicate with include our fans within Megadeth's world," says David Ellefson.
On Cryptic Writings (1997), Megadeth's eighth album, the band's unwavering conviction mixes with a desire to explore new territory, characteristics which mark their career as true musical pioneers. Recorded in Nashville, TN, Cryptic Writings ranges from Mega-rock (the melodic "Trust" and "Almost Honest" with their relationships-going-to-hell vulnerability), balls-out powerful (the monsterous thrash of "the Disintegrators" and the fight for freedom of "FFF") and hard pummeling metal ("Masterm ind" and the edgy "I'll get even").
Cryptic Writings was written during 1996 and the last three months of the year were spent in the recording studio with producer Dann Huff. When Megadeth went in search of a cutting edge, not necessarily well-known producer - They found Huff, the si nger-guitarist of hard rock's Giant in the late '80s to early '90s, who was also a student of famed producer Mutt Lange.
"I wanted to take guitar lessons from Dann six years ago. I'd heard a Giant record and said, 'Here's a guy who knows where to put the notes.' He sounded awesome," Mustaine says. But Huff instead offered to jam with him. Recalls Mustaine, "I didn't realize that he was a session player and what he meant was 'I'll give you a free lesson.' So I turned him down." Now Mustaine wanted him as a producer and flew to Nashville. "I never heard anything he'd produced or even any music from him recently. He had really short hair and he got us lost driving from his house to the studio. But I thought, 'He's the guy.'"
Recording far from home, he says, was the best it's ever been for a band that has been nothing short of volatile over the years. "There was a congeniality and a level of trust in each of us created an enviroment of cooperation. This was the most painless experience we ever had in a studio."
In the time between Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings, the members of Megadeth kept their fierce work ethic in full tilt. Mustaine collaborated with Lee Ving of Fear on MD.45, the full length album, The Craving, on Capitol. Marty Frie dman released a solo album entitled, True Obsessions.
In addition to contributing regularly to Bass Player Magazine with the column "The Real Deal," Ellefson's book "Making Music Your Business" is now available, published by Miller Freeman. Nick Menza put together a band called SOMA, which has recorded 14 songs, played a gig opening for Dokken and has yet to release any material.
Megadeth touring plans for Cryptic Writings have the guys on the road for much of 1997. After promotional touring of Europe and the US, and then rehearsals, the havoc began in Mesa, AZ on friday, June 13. The summer of 1997 included rock festivals such as the Waldrock Festival in the Netherlands, Graspop festival in Belgium and Midtfyn Festival in Denmark. With Megadeth's dedication to their fans, they fit in gigs at smaller venues as well.
July through September marked Megadeth's return to the US where they continued their onslaught from state to state, leaving sold-out venues in their wake. Additional dates will take Megadeth all around the world where they can expect to remain as the reigning beasts of metal music.