Shawn Drover of MEGADETH
Interview by EvilG
All live photos by Lord of The Wasteland except
the below photo from Shawn’s MySpace page.
Shawn Drover isn’t the usual mouthpiece for Megadeth as we’ve all read/see countless interviews with the legend himself, Dave Mustaine. So when given the opportunity to speak with Shawn, I was interested to hear his story on Megadeth, the line-up changes (especially surrounding the departure of his brother Glen from Megadeth), and the status of his previous band Eidolon which is currently on hiatus…read on!
Congrats on the release of ENDGAME. It seems like most all critics and fans are saying very positive things about the album. Do you feel it is something maybe just a little more special than the other Megadeth releases you’ve been a part of?
I don’t know if I feel that is more "special" than UNITED ABOMINATIONS, but I did have a sense of that I knew that we had a lot of strong material upon hearing all these riffs that Dave had, but having said that, we went in the same way we did with UA in that we wanted to make the best record we could. I like both records very much and opinions are subjective, but I am very happy we are getting so much positive press and reviews with Endgame. Believe me, that doesn’t suck.
What was the writing process like for ENDGAME? Were songs just given for you to learn or did you have some input into the structures, arrangements, and tempos? I know you also play some guitar so was the option given for you to make suggestions on anything or is this entirely Mustaine’s creation?
Dave has what I like to call the "Pandora’s box of metal riffs" that he has kept over the years – some of them are very recent, some were older, which really interested me to hear ideas that he has from years ago. Anyways, we would pick a certain riff or partial song and start jamming on it, and it didn’t take too long to start adding new ideas to it or modifying the original riff – all of this being recorded as we went along, so when we would create some cool ideas, there were recorded on pro tools to listen to and absorb. It was a cool and creative way to lay down the foundation to what would become Endgame over a period of time.
What about your drum parts – how much free reign were you given to just play what you felt?
It was a real collaborative effort between myself, Dave and Andy Sneap. When we were demoing the record, I would play the basic idea, then we would talk about it and see what worked best for the song. I am pretty open to it, as I have no ego about that kind of thing, so it was a pretty easy and painless process.
How much time did it take you to nail your drums parts?
7 days. We refined the demo’s quite a bit, so when it was time to record the record for real, I knew the songs very well and was comfortable with executing the tracks. It was very beneficial having our own recording studio built, as I used the exact same setup for demo’s and recording, so I was totally comfortable.
When recording, do you leave any room for inspiration or are you more about nailing a part identically every time until it’s exactly what you want it to be?
A bit of both, to be honest. There are always parts of the song where I try to be spontaneous with drum fills or something of that nature, without it taking away from the song or what I am trying to do with it. I am pretty happy on how the Drum tracks turned out.
What is your favorite songs on ENDGAME and do you get to play them live?
Well, I do have to say Head Crusher, don’t I??? As I co-wrote the music for it and at this point, it is the only song we have played live thus far, and it goes over well, I must say. I like the entire record and I can see a bunch of songs that would go very well live – 1320 is certainly one of them, in my opinion, but I like them all.
The new guy in the band, Chris Broderick, of Jag Panzer fame, is, as any Jag Panzer fan knows, a phenomenal player. What things did you see/hear that he brought to Megadeth?
Chris is a well rounded player and can pull off several different styles, as he wrote a piece of "The hardest part of letting go", so its good having somebody who can adapt to different forms of music if it is called for, that’s for sure.
As the story goes, you brought up Chris’s name to Dave as a possible replacement so I take it you were either a fan of his playing beforehand!? Did you also know him personally as well?
Actually, it was Glen and myself who suggested Chris to Management and Dave within 1 hour of Glen announcing he was leaving the band, as there was no way Glen would leave the band hanging in any way. Glen is a class act and he did it the proper way with no malice – we made sure we had a list of potential guitarists to choose from to replace Glen. Within 2 days, Chris was pretty much in the band, so it worked out.
Were you bummed out when your brother and now former Megadeth guitarist, Glen Drover, decided to call it quits?
I was absolutely crushed and did everything I could to talk him out of it, until i realized that I was being selfish and I needed to listen to why he wanted to leave, and that was because his son was very young at the time and over the course of 3 years, the touring and being away from him really got to him. In the end, it was the right choice and Glen is much happier now, but at the time it was very painful seeing my brother leave the band, to say the least.
Was Glen’s departure a shock to you or was it something that he had discussed with you prior to leaving?
Looking back now, it was pretty clear Glen was getting more and more sad near the end, missing his son, though I didn’t really see it at the time. When he told me for the 1st time he was going to leave, I was in total shock and did all I could to change his mind. In the end, you have to be happy in life as this is only rock and roll, man – we’re not changing the world or curing Cancer, we are just here to play music for people who enjoy it, but in the grand scheme of thing’s this is just what we do and its just not all that important compared to being a happy person in life.
Glen Drover (live with Megadeth in 2007)
Both you and Glen are still in the band Eidolon. Since your last release was "The Parallel Otherworld" from 2006, what are the plans for a new Eidolon record?
For me, I can’t see it happening. We released 6 records and none of them sold well, which for me is very dis-heartening. It got to the point of where Glen and I busted our asses making the best music we could, and then to get zero record company support for touring, etc. The last record we did (The Parallel Otherworld) is where we finally got the vocalist we always wanted (Nils K Rue) and could sing basically anything we wanted him to, and then some. I am super proud of that record and think its certainly the best work we ever did, but again barely anybody has the record, because of pathetic record company lack of distribution etc. so it was like beating a dead horse in that respect, and at that point Glen and I were in Megadeth, so we threw in the towel on Eidolon, for obvious reasons. Eidolon is the exact reason that Glen and I got the Megadeth gig, so i will always be grateful for that, but I am not 1 of those dude’s who think its cool to be an underground band or whatever. We always made those records with hopes of them being successful so we could tour, etc. Oddly enough, 1 of the few live shows Eidolon did was with Megadeth back in 2001, at the Bang your Head festival in Germany.
Will the next Eidolon album again feature the awesome vocal talents of Nils K. Rue of Pagan’s Mind?
I can’t see us doing an Eidolon record in the foreseeable future, but if we ever did, YES Nils would sing on it – I wouldn’t do it unless Nils sang on it, that’s for sure.
Back to Megadeth….What were the songs that you played in your audition to Megadeth? Was it a video audition, or did you jam with Mustaine and the band? How was it….nerve-wracking or what?
Thinking about it now, there was really no audition. Either I was going to play the songs in rehearsal and go on tour in 6 days, which is what happened, or if it didn’t work out, they would have had to postpone the tour. That wasn’t an option in my mind, so I went in there being confident but shell shocked to the point of being numb and just getting in there within 12 hours of the initial phone call and hammering it out. I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other way. I look at that time period with great fondness now. It was a very exciting time for me.
Which Megadeth song that you’ve written the drums for do you find the most challenging to recreate live AND what other Megadeth song that you’ve had to learn also presents the biggest challenge for you?
I can play all the stuff I have performed on, which is something I make sure of when I am cutting drum tracks on a record – If I cant play it live, I see no point in doing it in the 1st place. For older Megadeth stuff, certain tunes are more challenging than others, but all of them are fun to play, I can tell you that.
Who comes to mind when you think back to who your favorite previous Megadeth drummers are….and who comes to mind for your own personal favorite drummers?
For Megadeth, Gar. End of story. For my favorite drummers, Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Steve Gadd, Roger Taylor, to name a few, but there are tons that inspire me.
I’ve been wondering about Megadeth’s tour plans. Is ‘The Big 4’ tour planning in the works or is it all still speculation? Would you personally love to see this tour happen in 2010?
As far as I know, its all speculation at this point. If it does go through and does actually happen, I am all for it personally, but we have not received any formal offer to do this yet. I suppose we will have to wait and see what happens.
What bands would you most like to tour with?
Judas Priest was huge for me, as they are my all time favorite Heavy Metal band, period. so needless to say, I had fun on that tour. For me, Rush would be the ultimate, though I am not sure that would ever happen. It never hurts to be hopeful, though
Will the Canadian Carnage East tour with Megadeth/Slayer/Machine Head make its way into more countries or what are the tentative touring plans that you know of?
As far as I know, this is what we have on the table at this point, though of course you never know what can happen. I only know what is happening in terms of touring up until Christmas time, so I honestly have no idea what is coming up in 2010. 1 thing is for sure, we will be on tour a lot in 2010, but where and when, I don’t know yet.
Have you heard of any plans for another Gigantour? If another Gigantour is in the works, what bands might be involved?
I have heard nothing on the next Gigantour plans, though I am sure we will do it again at some point, just not sure when yet.
Is it strictly for economic reasons that you don’t often tour with lesser known bands who obviously deserve and need the exposure?
A lot of that is done by management, etc. Though I have championed for certain bands that were being considered that we did end up taking on tour with us at certain times – Dillinger Escape Plan being 1 of them. Nobody know of them except me and Glen when their name came up, so I jumped all over it to lend my opinion on it. Exodus was another back in 2004. Dave asked us what we thought of having Exodus out with us. My smile was a mile wide that day. That tour was a total blast, dude.
One of the things that many Megadeth fans find a bit odd is that Dave Mustaine has become a born again Christian. How does that play out in the band? He doesn’t invoke prayer circles with the band or expect the rest of you to share his personal beliefs does he?
For me, I am all for what makes a person happy. What that has to do with playing Heavy Metal is beyond me. Last time I checked, Dave plays Holy Wars the same way on guitar, so more power to him.
Do you foresee an end time/expiry date to your time with Megadeth or are you in it for as long as possible?
Hhaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Yes, my expiry date is 2112, so I should be here for a while. Seriously, I am here for as long as Dave wants me and as long as I continue to have fun doing this. 5 years so far, and its still a good time, so I must be doing something right. (you did get that Rush reference, right??)
If you had to sum up what it has meant to you to be a part of such a respected and legendary metal band as Megadeth, what would you say?
It’s meant alot and I don’t take it for granted or become jaded about it, believe me. I am fully aware of Megadeth’s legacy and now I am part of it. That is something nobody can take away from me and I think that is pretty cool.
Official site: www.megadeth.com