MEGADETH’s CHRIS BRODERICK
Interview by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä
Transcription by David Groves
Megadeth headlined the third day at Tuska and offered a great deal of the classic Megadeth tunes as well as newer stuff from the excellent ENDGAME album. Before Megadeth concluded the annual Tuska festival, we had the great opportunity to talk to the band’s guitarist Chris Broderick about the big four tour, the latest studio album, and of course Jag Panzer and Nevermore.
First of all, welcome to Finland… It’s been something like two years since you played here last time.
Yeah, and didn’t we play here also with Priest Feast, didn’t we roll through here as well? [No] Oh we didn’t? Wow. That sucks. Well, I’m glad to be back, thanks guys.
The Priest Feast unfortunately skipped over Finland, but back in for that 2008 show. That was your very first performance you did with the band. Any memories from that particular one?
Yeah, I remember thinking that my head was going to explode, that’s what I remember. Because I’d been practicing up until that point, I’d just gotten the gig, I’d been working on all the songs and trying to get myself up to speed, but it was right before the first show that I was like – ‘this is really going to happen’, you know? And so I thought my head was going to pop that night. But as soon as I went out on stage and started running around and stuff, things calmed down and it was fun, it was a good show.
Megadeth has just recently been a part of that THE BIG 4 thing with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax. It must have been a kind of dream come true for you as well?
It’s been awesome. I mean, when I first heard about THE BIG 4 I was just like, well I’m gonna go, I’m gonna practice, do my usual thing, be as prepared as I can for my show. But the most amazing thing to me about the big 4 was the camaraderie that occurred right off the bat with all 4 bands. And the sense that we were trying to build something bigger than just the shows themselves, trying to reinvent the thrash genre and reintroduce it to a lot of people. And that’s what was so exciting to me. It felt new again, it didn’t feel like we were playing stuff from 20 years ago. It really felt like we were reintroducing a new style of music, and that’s what I’m so excited about and I hope it carries on.
Chris playing live at Tuska festival in 2010
JAMES OUT, ELLEFSON IN
How do you feel about Dave Ellefson coming back?
It’s been awesome. He’s a great guy and a great player and I just count myself lucky to play with him as well. And you can’t deny it; it was the perfect timing since we’re playing the RUST IN PEACE album. So everything feels very smooth and comfortable when I get on stage and play with him.
What kind of relationship do you have with James Lomenzo nowadays?
I still talk to him quite a bit, he’s another awesome guy. That’s the thing, a lot of people might say, “well this happened and that happened and won’t you be mad at this person for that”. But to me, I’m lucky, I now know two great bass players.
Could you tell what actually happened for him and why he was let go?
From my point of view? I think it was just the perfect timing with RUST IN PEACE coming back in and I think that Dave (Mustaine) and Ellefson had talked off and on over a period of time and I think it just felt right to put things back together. The odd thing for me is that I was almost as stunned as everybody was. I showed up for the first rehearsals for the Rust in Peace tour and in walks Ellefson. That’s the first I’d heard of it. And then it was like ‘alright we’ve got to start rehearsing, let’s get to work.’ So I actually almost started playing with him before I even said ‘Hey, I’m Chris’.
Megadeth in 2009: Chris, James Lomenzo, Dave Mustaine and Glenn Drover
JAG PANZER AND NEVERMORE
Since you left Jag Panzer there haven’t been much activity from their camp. Are you still in touch with them and and do you know what they’re up to nowadays?
Yeah, Keep It True. I talk to them all the time; I talked to Mark right before I left on this tour. And I think, I’m pretty positive of this, they signed to SPV Europe. I’m pretty sure. Because I know they were negotiating with them and I could have sworn he said that’s what happened.
What kind of feeling…
I think that’s awesome. It was an odd time though, it was a time when I felt like the record label had given up on us and we hadn’t given up. I think that’s a testament to the fact that we hadn’t.
You did four albums with Jag Panzer, right?
Something like that. I’d have to go back and count myself! (laughs)
Was it difficult for you to coordinate the schedule for two bands, and Jag Panzer wasn’t that active anyway?
And that’s the main reason, we always had such a hard time coordinating with everybody, getting out and touring. And that’s one thing I wanted to do, I wanted to do this for a living, so that’s when I started looking elsewhere.
You were a session guitarist in Nevermore, but did you have a discussion about the permanent membership in the band?
There was definitely talk back and forth. And it was very dysfunctional, is the way I would put it. The last time I talked to them seriously, I asked Warrell: ‘I know you’ve had some issues with your prior main guitarist and it may have put a bad taste in your mouth, but I’d like to write some material for the next CD you guys are thinking about, if you’re interested, let me know’. And he never let me know. And about 3 months later I got the call from Megadeth. So I was like: ‘well…touring guitarist or real member? Which would you choose?’
ENDGAME on the METAL-RULES.COM 2009 ALBUM LIST
ENDGAME was voted by the staff of Metal-Rules.Com to the third place as Heaven And Hell won and Candlemass became second.
I like that too. I heard that about 2 weeks before it was released and I liked it a lot. As far as getting third place, it’s not for me to tell people where they should place it all, it’s your decision. So hey, it made third, that’s awesome.
How much did you know about Megadeth before you joined in their ranks?
Well, I would say, you’re talking about Megadeth right? They weren’t one of the bands I was plugged into and listened to, I always got, honestly, a little more into the black metal and the Scandinavian metal, a lot of Meshuggah, Scar Symmetry.
Perhaps some Finnish bands as well like Sentenced or Amorphis?
No, not so much them. But a lot of that style of music. I was always a little more into the progressive side of things. But definitely because Marty was in the band, one of those shredders, I always listen to them. RUST IN PIECE was the first CD that I really started listening to, and then kind of went back and started listening to the older catalogue with Chris Poland and then forward from there. But it was a mild influence, definitely.
RUST IN PEACE is a milestone album in the career of Megadeth, how do you view that?
Absolutely. A lot of people ask me what my favorite songs to play live are, and it’s always usually a RUST IN PEACE song.
Well what do you think of album RISK? It’s an album that many people hate but some do like it a lot..
Um, you know what the funny thing is, I haven’t even heard the whole CD. I read an interview with Dave about it, and had just gotten the sense that a lot of people were canning it. It’s one of those albums I should invest more time with. But I haven’t’ heard the whole CD yet, so I’ll reserve judgment on it.
“Sudden Death” is the latest Megadeth song released. Do you want to tell some more about that one?
Well it was created for Activision for Guitar Hero. That’s it, you know. We played a ton of guitar over the top of it, tried to make it was ripping as possible, and that’s it.
Symphony of Destruction!
Do you feel you had big boots to fill when you first joined in the band?
Yeah. But you know, again, that’s another common question, do you ever get nervous? But I always just see what I have to do in front of me, you know what I mean? If I know I have these songs to play, I don’t think: ‘Oh no, this was done by this guitarist, am I going to be able to do it?’ or something like that, I just look at the material. It’s the mindset of a classical guitarist – they open the piece of music and they look at the notes, they start transcribing and they start working on their fingering and their phrasing. And they never stop to think: ‘oh this is by Chopin’ or whoever, ‘I’m not going to be able to do it!’
Did you do an audition before you got the gig how or how it actually went?
Yeah, I had an audition but it wasn’t like they had a casting call and a long sheet of members they were calling. Shawn and Glen had got together – Glen had decided to leave, so who could replace him, who could fill those shoes. So I was one of the people on this list that they had given Dave. Then Dave had gone on and seen some of my YouTube clips and stuff like that. So I got a call from his management. Management called me and asked me if I wanted to be the lead guitarist for Megadeth, and I was like…’uh, yeah!’ Then I went down and met with Dave, we talked for a while, played for him for a little bit, then we just got to work. To me it seems like it’s not a big story, but that’s because it really was just like – ‘let’s do this, let’s make it happen’. It really was a quick decision in a way.
What kind of person is Dave Mustaine to work with?
Well I think, with the rhythms, that’s where he wants us to be locked in and as tight as possible. And that’s one thing I’ve picked up from him. He’s like a street fighter, you know, he gets at it any way he can. And I’m schooled; I’ve been brought up that way. I think about it, I work out what would be the best; this way, that way, you know. And sometimes you just have to be that street fighter. So when I sit down with Dave and work on rhythms it’s more about where it is against the beat, whether I’m pushing or pulling the beat, or playing more relaxed or stuff like that. It has very little to do with the placement of the fingers or stuff like that, it’s more about the feel. So we do work on that, yeah.
So you have such a freedom with this band?
Yeah, I think so. But you want to make it as tight as possible.
How do you feel when fans and critics are now comparing you to previous Megadeth guitarists all the time?
I feel like it, yeah. I mean, I’m still digesting some things about the way the Megadeth sound is achieved. So I still feel somewhat new to it. But each day I feel like I become a part of it more and I get to express myself a little bit more in the way I play and what I do. So as far as the ‘Marty this, Chris Poland that’ – all of that stuff – to me they’re all great players. Again, people have their preferences and that’s awesome, people should have. I hope I do their songs justice and I hope people appreciate what I add to the mix as well. That’s all I can hope for.
How about Al Pitrelli who played the A WORLD NEEDS A HERO album?
Al Pitrelli is a great player. I don’t really know his work as well in Megadeth as I’ve heard it outside Megadeth. But just watching him play, he’s a great player and he’s got a lot of great phrasing in his playing and stuff like that. If you think about it, the guitarists that have been in Megadeth have all been really good.
Megadeth in 2010: Chris, Dave Mustaine, Shawn Drover and Dave Elleffson
When you just witnessed how Dave returned after all these years, have you ever been thinking what might happen if Marty some day walks in walks in and asks to rejoin in the band as well?
You know, there’s no fear there; if he does, he does, that’s the thing. If people say ‘we can’t wait for Marty to come back’ then that’s their choice. Hearing that from people is not going to make me play any worse or anything like that; I’m just going to do my thing.
I guess he’s been a huge influence for you as well?
Marty’s a great player, he’s a good guy. He was one of my side-influences because I was so into Jason Becker growing up, and of course Marty played with him through Cacophony and “Speed Metal Symphony” and all that. That’s how I knew of Marty Friedman. Then I kind of followed him into Megadeth because when they split he joined Megadeth. That’s how I got into Marty Friedman.
You have got the degree from the University and you’re also giving some guitar lessons, right?
Yes, I got a degree in Classical Guitar Performance and I do give guitar lessons when there’s time, yep.
Are there more students coming in now after you’re playing in Megadeth?
I definitely get more requests, but unfortunately I have far less time. So what are you going to do? (laughs)
Well, it’s time for the very last question here …. How does the future of Megadeth look?
Yeah, I think we’re all starting to get into that headspace. I’m writing riffs. Ellefson got a guitar out on the road so that he can write some guitar riffs. Shawn’s a guitarist as well so he’ll be writing some guitar riffs as well. And we’ll all bring our eyes together and see what really speaks to us. Not only that but one of my personal goals this time around is to write three songs lyrically first, and then come up with the melodic content of the voice – work backwards from what I normally do.