Megadeth Interview
With Dave Mustaine and Al Pitrelli

By Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä
Photos by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjälä (and some promo ones)

"Killing is my business…And business is good" could be said now as Megadeth have got a new album out "The world needs a hero" on Sanctuary Rec and above all the whole organization of the band has been renewed…So it was about time to talk to Dave Mustaine and Al Pitrelli about several interesting topics…


We are gonna publish this interview in the internet magazine called but I know you are a heavy internet user so what is actually your standpoint of the whole net, I mean from the negative side because of the piracy, do you thing it has somehow got out of hand ?!?

Mustaine : In some cases yes. I think there are much more worse things on the internet than file transfers. There are lot of security hackers over there who can take all your belongs away. People can lose their credit card number or bank account in matter of hours maybe even couple of minutes. If you mean about music and movie downloads .

How many people have broadband in home. I have a broadband at my house and as fast as broadband is you know mine is pretty quick! I had 56 kb modem at my house and the broandband now is about seven times faster now. Now I mean sure 250-260 kb and you know whatever 260 etc. Still it takes time to download that stuff. If I wanna download a picture it takes a couple of seconds. Imagine downloading two hour movie like the Good, Bad & Ugly.. You know even through that seat you can download it free it is like ...."krooh"

As far as MP3 songs are concerned. When I first started it was about tapetrading in Metallica. That's how we came popular. If the fan wants to go our site and listen to our song and seek if he wants to buy a record. That's understandable. If he wants to download MP3 of the song put in on the cassette take it with him and trade it and say this is band I think you like that cool too. But if they download a song and put in on the CD-R and trying to sell it. That's not cool. I am really excited about our fans who are curious about our new music. Really sucked that was wrong.

There are people over there who are using internet for a personal game. I love being to be first person to do something. First time I heard AC/DC, the town I lived in I was the only person who listened to AC/DC. I was one of the main evangelista there telling everybody about AC/DC. Now it's much easier to find out new bands and listen their music because of the internet. And I don't have nothing against Napster if you wanted to know that.


Let's go to deal with the current things : So, new album, new guitarist and new label and new management and new road crew….

Mustaine : New merchandise, new business manager

Well what else new ?!

Mustaine : New house, new dog…

Busy year for you I guess ?!?

Mustaine : It has been. I gotta remember a lot of new names and a lot of people I call 'em their names… I am calling them other names and they walk up to me and say "Hi I am…" and I am kinda… So I can't put a name to a face yet…


What actually went wrong with Capitol cos I mean you used to be on them so many years anyway?

Mustaine : It was a long time coming. We started having problems with them during Youthanasia. They changed the record company president who was a good one for us. They got a new guy who had worked earlier for Geffen and signed Nirvana. I imagined he probably thought that Megadeth doesn't matter cos we are not Nirvana. We tried to get off a label at that time and they said "no, you are one of slaves and we aren't gonna let you go." At that point on it was kinda a frustration situation. We asked them to do some thing and they persisted and everything got worse. The president got fired and a new guy came in and was even worse than the last guy. It was so fucking horrible. I hated him and I hated being there. Then he did something unbelievable, he allowed us to leave. You know I don't hate this guy anymore. Actually he was very smart cos they can't do anything with us. They are trying to sell the record company and they don't wanna spend a lot of money and don't make a lot of money. So basically they just get accumulate incomes from catalogue sales and catalogue sales on Capitol make all of their incomes.


How did you end to join Sanctuary Records, I mean they are rather a small label especially in The States, but for example they did a killer job for Halford's album. So does Smallwood's involvement have something to do with this?!?

Mustaine : Ron Smallwood and David Ellefson and I talked a long time ago about managing us. At the time it seemed like a right thing to do. But then we met someone that was close to us that we would like. We decided we are an American band and if we have a manager from other side of Atlantic ocean it's gonna bring inconveniences.

When Ron started his own label with Andy Taylor. It became current for us to do a right thing to do was to talk to these guys. We talked a lot of different labels, there were major and independent labels. A lot of them offered a lot of money, some of them offered a lot of credibility that you gotta on major labels that is famous for breaking a lot of new bands and stuff like that…That's attractive…. But nothing came close to the offer that Sanctuary gave us. They offered millions of dollars for the five album deal and they offered us at least million dollar for marketing this first album. Risk only got 300.000 dollars for marketing, but I don't even think they spent all of that. They offered us credibility of having a record company being run by guys who are heavy metal managers. So we are gonna have to go there and have our managers to talk to the head of the record company who doesn't understand what's like to be a manager. When we asked them to do something which costs 10.000 and they say "We will give you 20.000, can you do a better job"…But that doesn't happen after all…


The title of the newest and upcoming album "The world needs a hero" is basically dedicated to the guns and roses frontman, Axl Rose, right or was it just another rumour?!?

Mustaine: No, I like Axl. I said something in the press release about that fact. But younger bands don't wanna be rockstars anymore because it is just unattractive. They want to be more anonymous.. I mean I think everyone in the band should be a rockstar…You know…There shouldn't be anyone who looks like kind of…in a day job as a banker..


Also your metal monster Vic is back with the new album at last! But actually why did you abandon the mascot in the beginning of the 90's cos it wasn't anymore on the Countdown album?!?

Mustaine: Well the manager in the record company didn't want to have it on the cover anymore. They talked to me about it.. They said they would put in on back and I was like "whatever, at least it is there"… "Well we will put it inside"…."Well ok at least it is there"…"We will put it smaller on a mousetrap on Risk…. And I was like…..Laughter…Well at least it is there I guess… But then they started talking about changing the logo. It got changed on "Cryptic Writings" and more on "Risk"….Saying it as absurd "How about changing the name"…


I can't help asking if the stuff on Risk or even Cryptic Writings didn't appeal to your fans and yourselves as you have taken an obvious return back to the heavier and aggressive direction on the new album?!

Mustaine: I understand what you are saying, but Cryptic Writings was very well received and very successful in America. That's not bad. It had three top five singles on that too. That's very good from a physical record in America.

As far as Risk is concerned … A lot of hard core fans and a lot of heavy metal fans, sure they didn't like it. Some people don't listen to Megadeth anymore and those are not fans. Someone who listens to one record and things "fuck this band forever"…That's not a fan…Risk got a lot of new fans which we have never been able to get before if we hadn't changed music. But the most important with what happened with Risk is that I am not make any apologies as I love the record I think it is a great record. In America if you are a metal band and they say metal is dead. You have no place to where to go to. No metal magazines, no metal radio stations, Headbangers Ball was shut down….


Excuse me there is Friday Rock Night on VH-1 ?!

Mustaine: It wasn't there yet, you wiseguy… (Laughter)…. Well we have just our style. We had nowhere to go. What I do… ? Do I go and say "David come over my house, I gotta tell you something we are gonna break up now because they are gonna play a hard ball". Or do we say "We need to try to fight this fucking thing, wide out and stick together and wait until the music industry in America wants heavy metal… Well they did so here we are and a heavy record…












Al, you were temporary member/touring guitarist for Megadeth. And you were also a member of Savatage back then. At first you were a temporary member am I right?

Pitrelli: I was never a temporary member of megadeth let's make it clear first .. When Jimmy deGrasso called me, Dave asked Jimmy because "Marty is leaving we need guitar player now!" Jimmy suggested Steff Burns for Dave I guess but they didn't get right vibe or something, Marty recommenced somebody and Jimmy's solutions was "How about my buddy Al " We probably can pull this off. Let's get him a chance. Jimmy called me up the day right after Christmas. I flew out to Las Vegas. Then we talked the whole day what was going on. I did check some notes, listened to CD's and watched vintage livetapes. The more I listened to the music the more I was thinking about situation. Alright I'm in Megadeth. I am really convinced I'm a new guitar player. How good job I do Is how I can convince Dave. Then I'm his guy.. You know what I mean ..? So I was never, I never proceed myself as a temporary member I proceed myself as well I'm in!


Was it difficult to choice with who you will play in the future? I mean you were also a member of Savatage back then.

Pitrelli: It really wasn't a choice to leave Savatage now. I don't know what was said in the press as far as my involvement's with Savatage. Savatage was pretty much unemployment at that time. They weren't doing anything. During the release of album The Wake of Magellan 97/98 we toured about two months and that was it. At the same time the side project TSO had an idea for a Christmas record which was very good. I think their two records have sold 1.1 - 1.2 millions copies in America. That took press for me to do that. Savatage got put bad burned. Because of successful, commercial is a successful record and in America all their efforts and attention. Savatage was pretty much a dead issue I mean they were talking about doing another record one day but nobody knew what was going on?


Did you take any part on new SAVATAGE album "Poets and Madmen" ?

Pitrelli: I was involved for Poets and Madman album when we first started writing songs for that years ago. I mean it was about year and a half to two years ago. We were demoing ideas some ended to be good sounding demos. Every time we started to work for our record I would say listen. This is new TSO record I wanna do something for TSO. Basically I saw Savatage not really continuing on. TSO keep me working on and that band was the thing I wanted to do. Day after Christmas I finished TSO tour and then Jimmy called me "Merry Christmas Brother" Thank you I said. "What are you doing" Then I knew that something was wrong. And immediately I knew was sort of a opportunity of a lifetime for me. Everything I have worked for my entire career for. Back then maybe there was no choice to do. I love Jon Olivia as a friend, I think he's brilliant I wish him all the success cause I think he deserves it. He's been through hard times. But when this came up. It was just like ok, I'm in Megadeth now.


Alex Skolnick also played with Savatage and TSO?

Pitrelli :There were two tours (one on the east coast and one on the west) I don't wanna do too much time for this but... Alex Skolnick is a great guitar player he was in Testament and he was in Savatage he got fired from Savatage. I got hired to finish the record he got fired from. It was just another session for me. TSO was also another session as well. I mean as a guitar player position would you like to play with New York philharmonics absolutely that was a wonderful opportunity to play traditional Christmas music with full orchestra.


Speaking of eighties metal …Are you still in contact with Mr. Dee Snider ?

Pitrelli: I spoke to Dee a couple of months ago he left message on my voice mail just to congratulate me. Cause he was a very very big Megadeth fan. He hasn't been able to stay as a musical career and one the things he said "I'm so proud of you, it's such a great band and you deserve to be on it and I wish you up." It was really nice. I mean we spent a lot of time together and it was hard to be with him. When he was in Twisted Sister he deserved all popularity and success. And when I was with him he had fallen from grace like quicker than anybody I had ever seen and he was having a really hard time dealing with that. So I spent a lot of time with a man who was kind a not in a good way. Sometimes you can see somebody's riddle character. It's nothing to be a star and rich and suddenly nobody cares who you are its almost like "oh no you are him". So it was hard time for him and at that time we became very close.


If he wanted to record another Widowmaker album, would you take part on it ?

Pitrelli : No .. I would like to remember my time with Dee for what it was almost Ten years ago I have no inspirations to do anything except to become best guitar player Megadeth ever had ..


Any change to hear any Twisted Sister songs covered by Megadeth?

Mustaine: Yeah just NONE !!! (laughter and showing zero with his fingers!)

Well I just think cos you have done a number of covers…ehhh..

Mustaine: Twisted Sister was a real good band when they were around at that time. But I am not really sure that if we need to copy someone else, because we do pretty good by ourselves…


I know this is a tiring question but there are and were a lot of rumors that you again asked Jeff Waters from Annihilator to try out for Megadeth after Marty Friedman left? I guess this must have been asked hundreds of times, but it is about time to find out the real truth?!?

Mustaine: Never crossed my mind… I have heard some album called….Alice In Hell whatever is called.

That's the first one…

Mustaine: Yeah that's one I have heard…

Not even new albums of Annihilator?!?

Mustaine: No…Something happened… It is obvious he is very talented and if he really wanted to do Megadeth. But there was some reason I don't know what it is. But there are also some stuff said in the press…I don't know to consider it right… But for some reason it never happened and I haven't really given a though to Jeff of Annihilator since then. He is really good!

When Martin decided to leave, all what I wanted to do was fucking scream because I knew I was going to go through to teach the stuff to another person again. That was so ridiculous.. I knew I was going straight back to hell. It's better with Al cos he learns pretty quick, but even there is a lot of shit anyway…


I have read that the tour with Motley Crue was very successful, but on the other hand kinda very hard on the personal level and then this Anthrax thing as got thrown out of the tour…So did you get along with these MC dudes?!?

Mustaine: We definitely got along with the Motley Crue guys even though it wasn't something personal. Nikki was very friendly, Vince was pretty much drunk every day, Mick didn't deal with anybody cos he had a tight disease during the tour. Randy had this stomach thing and wasn't there and Sam Mallow from Hole was there instead. She was really excited about the whole thing. She truly enjoyed the lifestyle of Motley Crue.

Vince…. When I was seeing him and he was like "Hi dude" and I was like "Hi". I spent a month with him in a rehabilitation so I know him very well, but we are not friends by any manners, but I know him very well. He said my name one time on the entire fucking tour and very anxious "Hi Dave" and I was like "MY NAME !!!???"..laughter….


When Megadeth played the first gig with Abattoir and Trouble in Bay Area San Francisco Berkley Ruthies Inn… In 1984… Do you still recall that first gig ?!?

Mustaine: Yeah I remember that gig, I remember Abattoir, and I remember Trouble. Yeah it was in San Francisco… I remember it was the first date, that's my first date. I played a couple of concerts before that. I do remember playing in Bay Area…

And Kerry King was in the rank at that time…

Mustaine: Yeah !


But did you ever try to get him to stay in the band permanently?

Mustaine: No I didn't, he was very happy with Slayer and I respect his involvement with his band. We never tried to encourage him to leave Slayer… And I like Slayer…


What do you think of the current reunion boom for example all these old bands are back for example Exciter, Agent Steel and the list goes on, do you find it somehow ridiculous?!?

Mustaine: Agent Steel is not one of my favourite bands, but I like one Abattoir tune that I could tell you its guitar riffs and chorus right way. Exciter…Exciter was one of the first bands with whom Megadeth ever toured in America and we were an opening band. I always thought Dan Piler is related to Chuck Piler.. Laughter….It was a funny tour indeed…

No I don't think this reunion thing is ridiculous. I think it is great some bands get back together I hope the original Van Halen would get back and the original Guns And Roses. Any these which I actually have living memories. Even I would like to see the original Metallica would get back together in some point, but I don't think it will ever happen!!








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Saturday, May 12, 2001