“I HATE TO BE CLICHÉ, BUT MUSIC IS KIND OF like dating. It needs to have pacing. If it starts off too
fast, it’s going to end too fast. If it’s too slow, it’ll never
get going. Good songs will tell you exactly what they
need if you look for the signs.” Those introspective
words come courtesy of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine,
and if they seem out of place, maybe it’s because you
haven’t checked in with him lately. The guy with the
huge, jackhammer rhythm lines and the even huger
chip on his shoulder is not only talking but also playing
with greater nuance and thoughtfulness these days,
as evidenced by Megadeth’s current offering, Super Collider
[Tradecraft]. Fear not, the razor-sharp riffing and
blazing solos are still there, but they share space with
banjo, slide guitar, EBow lines, and, well, space. And
the Mean Mr. Mustaine who snarled his way through
thrash classics like “Peace Sells” and “Skin o’ My Teeth”
seems content to take a back seat to the kinder, gentler
Dave who heaps praise on his bandmates (past
and present), endorsers, opening acts, and fans. If
you didn’t know better, you’d almost think that the
guy who based a career on having something to prove
finally realizes that he doesn’t.
To my ears, this record sounds just like Megadeth,
but with a heightened sense of melody and dynamics.
Exactly. That’s what we were going for. The music industry’s changed so much that in order to
compete anymore you’ve either got to be a
screamo band, which we’re not, or you’ve
got to write really good songs, which for me
means melodic and dynamic.
What can you say in general about how
you will juxtapose different energy levels
in individual riffs, songs, and throughout
an entire record, so it’s not just an assault
from beginning to end?
I think that goes back to what I was
weaned on. I have three older sisters and
they grew up on Motown, so I had a lot of
Motown influences, plus I also loved punk
rock and classical music. One of the things
I learned from classical was that the song
has to take the listener on a journey, where
the song can crescendo, hold the tension,
and then drop down a little bit. Punk rock
gave me the angst and a lot of the vitriol
for the lyrics, and of course the weird, sexy
kind of lagging, pushing and pulling the
beat—that comes from the Motown stuff.
In terms of riffs, you can make a riff twice
as exciting just by changing the drumbeat—
same riff but twice as exciting. That will add
different energy to a song. How I combine
these various elements will make some of
the songs darker and some of the songs a
What’s the time signature of the verse
in “Built for War”? I was trying to count it
out and I wasn’t really able to.
[Laughs.] That’s the part [drummer]
Shawn Drover wrote so you can ask him. I
had the hardest time singing over that section.
That was the hardest song I’ve ever
sung in my career.
Was it difficult from a rhythm guitar
It was totally easy to play on rhythm,
because it’s a really cool, chunky, down and
dirty kind of a riff, even though it’s in that
weird time signature, then it goes into 4/4
at the re-intro, and then it goes back into
that crazy algebraic rhythm. But when it
came down to singing over the top of it …
Is it going to be a challenge for you to
play it and sing it at the same time live?
Hold on there, partner. I don’t think I’ll
ever be playing that song live. If I do, I might
just sing it and not play guitar, or say, “Hey,
this is audience participation time!”
“The Blackest Crow” has a lot going on in it.
That beginning riff reminded me of that
Chicago song, “Wishing You Were Here,” a
really haunting melody. So I had done that,
and then for the chorus there’s that undulating
funky riff, which comes from that Motown
influence I spoke about. I also played banjo
on it—it’s a guitar neck mounted on a banjo
body, tuned like a guitar—and I played the
slide on that tune. I’m the jack of all trades on this record, but putting it all together
came pretty easily.
“Don’t Turn Your Back” has a really sweet,
laid-back intro that almost reminds me of an
early Scorpions tune. What was your signal
chain for that song?
That’s a very flattering reference, the
Scorpions—especially when you’re talking
about the old Uli days. I used my Dean
VMNTs. I used a korina one for the solo and
a Silverburst one for the rhythm because it
has a little harder finish on it and a little
bit more of a cutting sound. Both of them
are wired with my Seymour Duncan Signature
Live Wires, which are active pickups.
I’m using Cleartone strings—a brand
new string company—and they’re amazing.
I switched from my previous company—
who I’d been with for years and years—but
not because they weren’t good. They were
great and their service was fantastic. I don’t
want anybody to think I left because they
weren’t great people. But these new strings
are mind blowing. My amplifiers were Marshall
JVM 410s and the white Randy Rhoads
head. I used the Randy Rhoads for one of
the solos. We turned everything to 10 and
it was smoking. It was driven pretty hard.
It’s a phenomenal amplifier and I’m really
gratefful for my relationship with Marshall.
For pedals, I used my signature Zoom pedal
for the flange effect and for the phaser part
we used an MXR Phase 90, the one with
the Eddie Van Halen paint job on it. I used
my signature Marshall cabinet, with Celestion
Greenbacks in it.
How would you say your guitar style has
evolved? What do you hear when you spin
your early records versus the way you’re
I think in the beginning I was trying to
show off a little bit more with the complexity
of the songs, because I knew I could
play stuff that a lot of other people couldn’t
and sing at the same time. Although sadly,
on those early records and tours, because
the guitar playing was so complex, I wasn’t
able to give the singing the attention that it
deserved. Now I feel there’s more of a balance
between the playing and singing.
You’ve mentioned some interesting influences
in the past, like Elliot Easton. Who are
some other guitarists that you find inspiring?
I love David Gilmour. I think that Stevie
Ray Vaughan is great. Todd Rundgren does
some cool stuff. Some of the music, within
reason, that Adrian Belew and Robert Fripp did
was good, but I don’t think you should need
a slide rule to listen to a song. I like watching
pyrotechnics on guitar, like Holdsworth,
but just for a little bit. There are some other
players that are kind of simple, like Ronnie
Montrose—may he rest in peace—who had
a great rock style. I love Eddie Van Halen,
love Randy Rhoads. I like Eric Clapton a lot,
too. I never knew he did the solos on “While
My Guitar Gently Weeps.” I always thought
those were George’s best solos.
Is there anything that you haven’t done
with Megadeth that you’d like to do?
There’s the elusive Grammy that continues
to evade us. There was a time when I was excited to be nominated, but frankly
I’m over it. Musically, I really like reinvesting
some of the good fortune we’ve had by
giving some of our knowledge and experience
back to younger bands. I love doing
that through Gigantour because it gives us
an opportunity to show these guys a cool way
to tour, treat them really well, and let that
huge press machine that is Gigantour benefit
I think the most important thing that I’ve
accomplished with Megadeth is being able to
provide a good life for my kids, thanks to the
support of our fans. If they didn’t believe in
this music, there would be no Megadeth, so
I thank my fans all the time.
Burning for You
When asked about the
guitar work of his current lead player, Dave Mustaine
was unequivocal: “Chris is by far the best
guitar player I’ve played with, and that’s not taking
anything away from the other guys, because
they’re all really great.” Those are bold words
given that the “other guys” in question include
such monsters as Chris Poland, Marty Friedman,
Glen Drover, and Al Pitrelli. But Broderick’s chops,
tone, and feel make him more than capable of
filling those big metal shoes, as he ably demonstrates
on Megadeth’s latest, Super Collider. —MB
I can’t always tell who’s playing what on
this record. Take the solo section in “King
Maker” and explain what’s going on.
An easy way to tell on “King Maker” is if you hear
some tremolo bar work or dive bombs, that’s
me. Anything that doesn’t have that is Dave. The
way it breaks down is the first little solo is mine.
Then in the main solo section, the first half is my
solo and when we transpose up from D and do
the same rhythm in E, that’s Dave.
The solo you do in “Built for War” is short
but really dazzling. Can you describe how
you’re playing that?
I come into it with some melodic ideas interlaced
with some 7th arpeggios that I kind of
sweep in and out of—I think a dominant and
a diminished. I slide in between them and then
I end with a major 7 tapped arpeggio. I’m playing
three notes on a string and skipping every
It kind of has a Jason Becker vibe.
Oh yeah. He’s a huge influence of mine and he
still influences me today—how upbeat he is
and how he still makes music is just amazing.
What was your rig for this record?
I used pretty much exclusively my signature
series Jackson Soloist. I did some acoustic
work on my Guild acoustic guitar. The amp
for most of it was an EVH 5150 III.
What do you hear when Dave takes a solo?
I hear his influences in his choice of tonality,
whether it’s pentatonic or the minor scale or
sometimes a harmonic minor scale. I get a
Michael Schenker influence, especially with his
pentatonic stuff. What I mostly hear, though, is a
lot of aggression. I think he always approaches
the instrument to conquer and dominate it.