When a band has three decades under its belt, sometimes it's able to maintain a stable lineup, though sometimes its lineup fluctuates. Each member that passes through a given outfit make a contribution to that outfit, whether the contribution be great or small. How significant that contribution is then ultimately decided by a band's fans, and that will be the case for Megadeth's Jeff Young.
Having played on only one Megadeth
full length, is his contribution a footnote, or greater than is actually realized? Pull out your copy of "So Far, So Good... So What
", listen to it as well as live bootlegs from back then and watch live video footage from the time too, and cast your votes.
Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds joined the ranks of Megadeth as lead guitarist in 1987 on the recommendation of Dave Ellefson, replacing Chris Poland. Reynolds hired Jeff Young to teach him Poland's solos, and also to help him write solos for what would become 1988's "So Far, So Good... So What" - the third Megadeth studio record. Megadeth decided it'd be better to hire Reynolds' guitar teacher, and so Jeff Young found himself replacing Jay Reynolds during the last week and a half of recording. The album included a cover interpretation of Sex Pistols' "Anarchy In the U. K.", as well as seminal Megadeth cut "In My Darkest Hour". Recorded at Music Grinder in Hollywood, California, Dave Mustaine and producer Paul Lani fell out during the mixing process at Bearsville in Woodstock, New York since it was felt the mixes weren't up to scratch. Michael Wagener, who had mixed Metallica's third opus "Master Of Puppets" (1986), stepped in, and mixed "So Far, So Good... So What" at The Enterprise in North Hollywood, California.
"So Far, So Good... So What" was issued in January 1988, charting at position twenty-eight on the Billboard 200. Gold certification arrived in February 1990, with platinum certification occurring eight years later during May 1998. A music video for "In My Darkest Hour" was directed by Penelope Spheeris, Megadeth appearing in her June 1988 documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years". Opening for Dio on the European "Dream Evil" tour in February 1988, the group then supported Iron Maiden on the British outfit's "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" North American summer tour. At that time, Nick Menza was brought in as a technician to drummer Chuck Behler. August 1988's "Monsters Of Rock" festival at Castle Donington in the UK saw Megadeth perform, as well as Kiss, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Guns N' Roses, and David Lee Roth. Added to the "Monsters Of Rock" European tour, the act dropped out following the initial show. A scheduled 1988 Australian tour was scrapped, and Behler and Young parted ways with Megadeth. However, different accounts of this period in Megadeth's career exist, accounts which contradict one another.
On January 16th at roughly 16:20 GMT, Hit The Lights' Robert Gray telephoned Jeff Young to discuss his time in Megadeth.
Jeff Young: Hello?
UG: Hello - this is Robert again. How are you Jeff?
Would it be ok if I began the interview?
Yeah. I'm ready to go for it.
You were originally teaching guitar to Jay Reynolds. How did that lead to you joining Megadeth?
"He hired me to give him guitar lessons for fifty bucks an hour, which Megadeth was probably paying for."
To put it in a nutshell, it's a little bit convoluted. I had a manager named Barry Levine, who I met after I graduated from the Guitar Institute of Technology, and he was a photographer. He actually photographed Motley Crue's 'Girls, Girls, Girls' (1987) album cover, did the video, and did the 'Shout at the Devil' album (1983) - that's probably the most famous. He did some of the Angel stuff back in the day, and Aerosmith. He was a great rock 'n' roll music photographer, and kind of turned manager. He ended up becoming my manager, and my second father. He had a partner, and I moved into their house in West Hollywood. His partner Chris had a recording studio upstairs, so I lived in their house, and we had a couple of other band members end up moving there. Actually Punky Meadows, the guitarist from Angel, lived in this house, and so he was my housemate with his girlfriend. I lived upstairs, and they lived downstairs. It was a huge place; I was able to record there everyday, and write.
One of the roommates that moved in eventually was Jay Reynolds, who moved in downstairs underneath the room I was in. We became casual buddies, and that's when I became his teacher, giving him lessons at the house and what not. I didn't even really charge him, but to cut a long story short, then was about the time I joined. I had a falling out with Barry because he was getting a little controlling with our careers, and a little bit of a slave master. I ended up moving out of the house, and I lost contact with Barry - my bassist and a couple of guys went with me, and a couple of people stayed with him in the band.
I tried to start a new band which incidentally was with Mark Poland, who's Chris Poland's brother, and it would seem that that's how the connection at that time would've led me to Megadeth, but it wasn't. Mark Poland went on to play on the 'Damn the Machine' project, 'Return to Metropolis' with Chris, and probably other stuff - I don't know what else he's done. It was just really weird though, that right before Megadeth I was playing with Mark Poland, which is a weird kind of foreshadowing. Awhile had passed though, and Mark and I were playing together.
I had decided to call Barry up, bury the hatchet, and go by his house. By this time, he and his girlfriend had moved out of that house with a studio, and they were living behind the Guitar Center on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. I went to his place, and we were just talking, making up and catching up. He played me some tracks from the band, who had gotten a new guitarist after I had left. Funnily enough, the new guitarist was the son of the guy who played Mowgli in the old black and white movie, whose name was (Selar Shaik ) Sabu. His son is Paul Sabu, and he took my place in that band. I sat there listening to the demos and talked to Barry, and we were just shooting the shit generally.
The phone rang, and just keep in mind that I hadn't talked to any of the cats from that house for probably about four months or more. Barry picked up the phone and answered it, and he looked at me with a really surprised look on his face. I could tell something on the other end of the phone had him kind of shook, and I heard him say "Well... Ok.. I got him sitting right here". He was talking to Jay Reynolds. It turned out Jay was calling Barry looking for my phone number, and of all the days that I chose to go there, and of all the days that Jay chose to call, he chose right in that forty-five minute period when I was at Barry's house.
Barry, confused, hands the phone to me, and then I get on the phone. Jay goes "Hey Jeff, I just got a really big opportunity. I'm staying at a house in Laurel Canyon. Come over and meet with me. I wanna talk to you about it, but I don't wanna get into it too much on the phone". I said "Sure. I'm leaving Barry's house in a few minutes. I'll just drive by - it's on my way home". I popped by Jay's apartment, and basically he proceeded to tell me that he had replaced Chris Poland in Megadeth, and he was the new lead guitarist. I had actually met Junior once; Jay was friends with Junior, and he had brought Junior by the house where we lived. I had met Junior just in passing - Dave Ellefson.
When I was giving him lessons, Jay had told me at one point that Megadeth was having problems with Chris and looking for a new guitarist, even before they ended up firing Chris and Gar. I'm probably telling you more than what you need, so you can pick out of it what you wanna use. Some of this stuff no-one else knows, so it's up to you what you wanna use. To cut a long story short, Jay told me he's Chris' replacement. He hired me, and said "Will you give me guitar lessons?". To go back to what I was saying, I was kinda confused when he said he was replacing Chris Poland because I had heard a few Megadeth songs.
They were having trouble before they actually fired Chris and Gar, and thought about just firing Chris. He asked me if I'd be into doing it at that time, and if I was into the band - that was before I had had the falling out with Barry. I said "No - I don't think I'm into it". It was too heavier than what I'd done, and I'd never really heard speed metal. I liked it, it was very cool, and it was tracks from 'Peace Sells...' (1986), but when Jay told me that day that he had got the gig replacing Chris, my eyebrow probably raised up because I heard ... You can listen to Chris' solos for less than ten seconds, and can tell he's one of the greatest players on the face of the planet. Jay, I mean he was a good rhythm player, but he wasn't a lead player - he wasn't that great of a lead player. When he played in Malice, he mostly did the rhythm parts and Mick Zane did the lead, so I didn't know how that was gonna work.
He hired me though, and said "I'll pay you fifty bucks an hour to teach me Chris Poland's solos from 'Killing Is My Business...' (1985) and 'Peace Sells...'". Whatever songs that they were doing live I had to figure out note for note, because I could pick out notes just by hearing. Also, he hired me to help him write solos for the album, so that's how that started. He hired me to give him guitar lessons for fifty bucks an hour, which Megadeth was probably paying for. I started giving him lessons on Melrose Boulevard in Hollywood at Music Grinder Recording Studio, and every day, I'd just go in there and give him an hour or two of lessons. I wrote "Hook In Mouth" when I was teaching him, which was something that was really kinda repetitive. I thought he could play it, but it was pretty hard to play by the time I was done with it. That was how that started. There was a lot of drama between the time I actually started teaching him and me getting the gig, and however much you wanna know about that you can ask me, but that's how it led me to joining Megadeth.
Alright. How did Dave Mustaine come to eventually cut Jay Reynolds out of the picture, and subsequently phone you up, putting you in the picture?
Well, here's the thing. I'm sure you've seen the feud that went on the past month, and Dave's claim that he sung my solos to me and what not in the studio on that album, which he's never said in twenty-three years. I've heard him say it about Marty, and a couple of other guitarists, but just for the record, when I was teaching Jay in the studio until the time I was done recording my leads and rhythms, I met Dave Mustaine for a total of about thirty to forty seconds in the hallway at Music Grinder - he was in and out, definitely in a hurry to get somewhere, and that's the only time I spent with him at all during my tracking. I didn't start hanging out with him until after the tracking was done. Junior and Chuck were in there, and his guitar tech, so that's the story on that basically. If we pick up the story where we left off, I'm teaching Jay lessons here every day, sitting there.
I remember one day - one memorable story as an aside. Whether you use it, or it's just for your amusement... I'm sitting there on Melrose Boulevard. I'm sure you've heard about it - Melrose Place that they have in America, and it's pretty trendy. A lot of rocker clothing stores were on Melrose Boulevard, and this studio was on that street, and so there was a lot of foot traffic. I mean, Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset and Melrose run parallel to each other, so Melrose is one of those three tourist streets. Everyone wants to hit those three streets. One day I'm sitting there, and I think they had a giant window. You could look out at the street, and you could just watch everyone pass by. They couldn't see in, unless they pushed their nose right up to the glass. Jay was taking a break one day, so I was waiting for him to get there and I just sat there practicing on a guitar stool, warming up, and all of a sudden, this girl runs up and pushes her nose right against the window. She can see me, and said "Hi". I opened the door, and it was Belinda Carlisle from the Go-Go's. That's just the kind of trivia stuff while you're going through something like this that happens. I let her in. She was a really cool chick, and she knew some of the guys in Megadeth - I guess she had done her album there just before.
Anyway, to pick it up from there, I was teaching Jay. For example, I wrote "Hook In Mouth" with him. He'd bring in a cassette, and say "I got to lay down a solo on this part". I didn't hear all of "Hook in Mouth"; I didn't hear any lyrics, or any of the verses. I just heard those parts right where Mustaine goes "I believe my kingdom will come", and then my solo starts. I heard like a ten second roll there, and then said "Ok, here... I need a solo here". I sat there, and said "Ok... this could be something like "Flight of the Bumblebee"". I then put a little Russian twist on it though, and it was kinda repetitive. I thought it was kinda Michael Schenker'y - he was a huge influence on me. I thought "Ok. I'll do this kind of Michael Schenker, "Flight of the Bumblebee", with a Russian twist to it", and that's what the solo on "Hook in Mouth" became.
Every day, he'd come in with little cassette clips and say "Ok, I need a hit solo for here". That didn't go on for very long, because they started walking in the room. Chuck would walk through the room, or Junior would walk through the room, and they'd hear me playing, and they'd hear Jay struggling to play the stuff that I was writing. Put yourself in Junior and Chuck's place, and again, those are the only people that walked through. It wasn't Mustaine walking through here, and seeing me teaching this guy - he never put his nose in one lesson. I think they saw that Jay was struggling though, and they saw that I was playing the stuff fluently. I think that's when they started running back to Dave, and telling him that maybe they should get me.
Just as a quick aside, maybe this is a lesson on what I'm going through right now with Dave on ethics, and morals and values and stuff. Right when I started teaching Jay, as I saw he was struggling and wasn't gonna be able to do the gig, I called my parents on the phone. I stood at a phone booth in Hollywood, and said "Mom, Dad..." - both of my parents were on the phone. I said "I've got this opportunity", and they replied "Ok" - they were listening. I said "A friend of mine, Jay, that I was living with, contacted me recently. He's hiring me for fifty bucks an hour to help him. He's working with this band who're on Capitol Records, same label that The Beatles were on. He's hired me to teach him the old guitarist's solos, who's a slick jazz player like Allan Holdsworth". My parents knew who Allan Holdsworth was, because I dragged them to a show right before I left to go to the Guitar Institute - he played my hometown. I said "He had an Allan Holdsworth kind of vibe, but this other guy is a rhythm guitarist".
I basically said to my parents, in no uncertain terms: "This guy can't do the gig, but I can do the gig. What can I do? Should I tell him? Could I just get the gig? Should I try to steal the gig from him?". My parents said "No - don't do that". It's hard for musicians to get a good gig, so in that situation, you're tempted to put your thing out there. However, they said "Don't do that. You sit back, and let them see your talent. If you put your stuff out there, betraying your friend..." - I mean, me and Jay weren't close friends but we were friends. They said "... betraying your friend, or at least a fellow guitarist, is kind of shady. If they can't see that you're the guy for the job, then they deserve what they end up with", so I didn't try to get the gig from him. That was a really good lesson that my parents gave me, and I think it helped.
When I entered that gig, Jay would've been a lot more hurt, and of course he was bummed when it went down, but if there'd been some shady, manipulative stuff on my part, it wouldn't have been cool. Again though, I think Chuck and Junior, and the guitar tech and Paul the producer, were all walking through the room, and they heard what was going down. They started talking. I think Dave Ellefson and Dave Mustaine lived in a place in Silver Lake, and one night I went over there. That's when the "Wake Up Dead" solo story happened: I sat on the couch, and put on 'Peace Sells...'. I started playing along, and in twenty minutes, I had that solo pretty much nailed by ear. I didn't even have to pull it down, and they freaked out. Chuck came in the room - Dave was in the bedroom. I don't even need to get into what he was doing, but Chuck ran in there, and finally, this is when Dave started putting his nose in - when he heard me out there playing the solo to "Wake Up Dead". Then it got serious, because they saw that I was figuring out Chris' stuff out quick, that I was teaching Jay, and that he wasn't learning the stuff.
They then came up with what I think is a kind of a shady way that they went about it with Jay, which was under the pretense that I was gonna record the solos on the album now, and not just teach the solos to him. I now was gonna play them, and then I was gonna teach them to him to go out on the road and do the touring, which again, I knew wasn't gonna happen. However, I thought "Ok. I'll play along... I'll start recording solos soon". That's when Dave Mustaine called me on the answering machine, and I put down "In My Darkest Hour" the next night. At this point in my career, even though I was giving Jay lessons, I was frustrated in LA and was about probably four months away from giving it up, and moving back to Ohio. I came home from a rodeo one night though, and there was a voicemail on my answering machine. I pushed it, and it was Dave Mustaine.
He said "I heard what's been going on with the lessons", and this and that. "I want to talk to you about something. Can you meet me tomorrow evening at the studio?". I met him, and we walked up and down Melrose. He told me "We're thinking about just cutting Jay out of the picture. You're doing it; you're doing the gig, and he's struggling". He gave me the talk about how I was gonna have to stop wearing surf shoes and shorts, and wear skinny jeans and do the rock star 101 thing. I've heard him talk about that in interviews before, so he gave me that whole rap. When we got back to the studio, he gave me just about sixty seconds or whatever it was of "In My Darkest Hour". He said "Come back tomorrow night.. Put a solo over this part right here", and he pointed to the part. "If that's cool, then we'll do another one after that". I went home that night, and just put "In My Darkest Hour" - just the sixty seconds that I had - in my cassette player. I just kept playing it over and over, and I was lucky at that time.
"When I was giving him lessons, Jay had told me at one point that Megadeth was having problems with Chris and looking for a new guitarist, even before they ended up firing Chris and Gar."
I guess here's another lesson for guitarist readers: the success comes when preparation and luck intersect, and you can probably tell from this story that there's luck involved. I was in the right place; I met Barry, Jay was my house mate, and Jay knew Junior. It was all just a ladder of coincidence, because at that point, I was playing twelve hours a day. There was a lot that happened because of the circumstances in my life that lined up; it crossed with the fact that I played a lot. If that opportunity had come, and maybe I had just come off of vacation or was only playing a couple of hours a day and my chops weren't up, I might've not been ready to go into the studio. Success happens when luck meets preparation. At that time I was really heavily into Gary Moore, a lot of his solo work, and all the Europeans like Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, and Michael Schenker, and Holdsworth, and all that stuff. I got into Paco de Lucia at that time, and that's when I first got into flamenco. A lot of my solos for Megadeth were flamenco scales, and kids say "Wow... How did you go from Megadeth to flamenco?". I say "What are you talking about? I was already playing flamenco on that album - that was just an electric guitar Marshall".
That night, because I was ready and because I was practising twelve hours a day and luck crossed my path, when Dave Mustaine gave me that tape of "In My Darkest Hour", I was able to go home that night and solo over it. The next night, I then went in and I improvized that solo, and who was in the studio was Paul Lani the producer. He ended up going on to do a great album with Enuff Z'Nuff called 'Strength' (1991), which I think is the best thing Paul Lani did. 'Strength' is a great, great album - I was really stoked when I heard that album. He was there, and the guitar tech was there, and I think Junior was there. I think maybe Chuck wasn't there that night. I laid the solo, and I remember I was kinda shy. I just wanted to be in my own headspace, so I think I made most of them go out - the producer was in there, and maybe Junior. I turned my back to the mixing board, and I went almost up against the back wall. I just stood up against that wall, and they just turned on the tape. I just played that solo a few times; I did a few improvs, we put it together, and that was "In My Darkest Hour".
The next day, everyone heard the finished solo and everyone freaked out. Capitol Records was then coming down, and they were freaking out. Jay said to Junior "Maybe we shouldn't have Capitol Records seeing that Jeff's the one who's playing the solos, because maybe they're not gonna want me". Finally, me and Junior - again, Mustaine didn't even do this, but makes Junior do it - went down Melrose to a restaurant, and sat Jay down. Junior basically told him "Well... We're just gonna go with Jeff". Now, I had written "Hook In Mouth", so that was probably the next thing that I did I would guess, because that was already written during one of Jay's lessons. They then gave me another song, and I went into the other room. I played over it for awhile, and then I went back into the room, and I played it. That was learning a song in like half an hour, and recording those leads half an hour later.
Sometimes I'd be able to sleep on a song overnight, and take it home overnight like "In My Darkest Hour", but most of the time I'd... It would just depend, because "Hook In Mouth"'s solo was a solo that wouldn't take me much more than a morning to put down. But what are you gonna do for the rest of the day? So they'd say "Ok, here's another test", and I'd just go in the other room. I was giving Jay guitar lessons, but I'd just sit there with a tape and I'd think "Shit - I gotta come up with something pretty fast". They only had a week and a half left to finish the album, and we ended up doing it. I came in during the last week and a half, and I just did that every day. They'd give me a little bit of a song, and say "We need a solo here". There was never rehearsing with the band; the tracks were all done, and all they needed were solos.
As you mentioned, Dave Mustaine gave you an image overhaul, which he mentions in the liner notes for 'So Far, So Good... So What!''s reissue. What were your thoughts on that image overhaul?
He reckoned to give everyone an image overhaul. I'm not super fine with the skinny girl jeans, but I did it, and the high tops. It was a look, and we did it. Basically, it wasn't that much of an overhaul. The high tops were bought in Converse, and the tight, skinny jeans that I bought when I... The first thing we did when we got off the plane in London was go to this store in London, and I got those, and the black T-shirt with the arms cut off.
Producer Paul Lani was fired during the mixing process for 'So Far, So Good... So What!'. What are your recollections of him being fired?
I'm not sure he got fired, but Dave Mustaine said they went to Bearsville, which I think was Todd Rundgren's studio (note: Bearsville was founded by Albert Grossman, Rundgren's late manager). It's kind of where Woodstock was, and it's kind of a farm. You can imagine lots of deers, and wood, maybe even a little forest area. It was just Dave Mustaine and Paul Lani who went there, and I just remember Dave calling me on the phone. He knew I was friends with Michael Wagener, who had mixed 'Master of Puppets', because Michael had done my demo before Megadeth. Michael Wagener and I have been friends for years. Michael of course went on to do the best Skid Row albums (producing 1989's 'Skid Row' and 1991's 'Slave to the Grind'), Ozzy's 'No More Tears' (1991, mixed), and Extreme's 'Pornograffiti' (1990, produced), and the last few King's X albums (producing 2005's 'Ogre Tones' and 2008's 'XV'), and Hydrogyn, who I'm playing with now - my new band. Michael and I have been friends that long, and of course he mixed 'Master of Puppets'. Dave has a Metallica fetish, right?
He started calling me from Bearsville, saying "The mixes are sucking... I'm freaking out", or words to that effect. After a couple of days, I said "Well... send them to us". He sent them to us, and we thought "Man... these suck". Those are I guess what's on the reissue, so you've heard those mixes, or at least some songs that he mixed. It didn't take too much maths to figure out; Dave was calling me upset, and I knew Michael Wagener who mixed 'Master of Puppets', so he needed someone to mix this album. I said "Dave... Do you want me to call Michael Wagener?" Dave said "Hell yeah... I want you to call Michael Wagener", so we did with Paul Lani what they did with Jay - out with the old, and... Michael had a place called Enterprise Studios in Burbank, California. He mixed 'So Far, So Good... So What!' in under thirteen days I think, the full album, from the time he walked in the studio to set up his gear and to the time he was ready to tear it down. Michael mixed it in Burbank. I don't know if Dave ever went there to hear the mixes - I'm sure he did - but I would just go sometimes to hear how the mixes sounded, or maybe Junior and I would go there. I'd talk to Michael real quick, and when he worked on the mixes, Dave wasn't with him at this time. Dave's probably in the studio a lot more nowadays, but Michael wouldn't let him in the studio - Michael "worked alone" (imitates German accent).
What are your thoughts on 'So Far, So Good... So What!'? Are you happy with the eventual results?
There's something I like about 'Peace Sells...' better. I like the songwriting. I was given the songs, and wrote the solos, but I was kind of let down. Some of the songs like "In My Darkest Hour", certain songs, were great. I had heard 'Peace Sells...', because I sat here and figured out all of Chris' solos, and it was a bitch. I had to get the master tapes from Capitol Records, and I took Chris' tracks solo - just him by himself - and I had the second engineer in the studio. We copied Chris' solos, just him with no band, just his lead solos to 'Peace Sells...', and I still have those tapes to this day where it's just Chris by himself with no band and soloing.
I had him put them on tape for me at regular speed on one cassette, and at half-speed on another cassette, so I could just pop the cassettes in. I could listen to Chris play at full speed to hear it, and then if I really needed, I could hear them slowed down at half-speed which was one octave lower. Now they have these new devices that you can buy, and it's at the same pitch, but back in the day when I had to figure out Chris' solos, when it's half-speed it sounds like "Wwooowwrrr". You can hear every note, but it's just a little disconcerting because it's an octave lower. It sounds a little ominous, so I was figuring out Chris' solos that way. I've gone off track a little bit, but having the heard his solos and what not, and having listened to all of 'Peace Sells...', I was totally into 'Peace Sells...'. For me, that's my favourite Megadeth album.
'Peace Sells...' is a little darker; something about the production sounds a hair more dark, just like the room - the room sound of where the band recorded 'Peace Sells...'. I don't know where they recorded it. There's just something about the sound that fits with Megadeth; it was a little more scary, a little more ominous, like "Bad Omen" and "Black Friday", and all that stuff. Everything Michael mixes sounds great, so it's a great sounding album. I think as far as songwriting, maybe Dave wasn't at the top of his game. For me, my favourite album is 'Peace Sells...'. We had "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" and "Rust in Peace... Polaris" from 'Rust In Peace', and were playing them during soundcheck on the road, so I knew those and I liked those. I haven't listened to much Megadeth from there though, except maybe a song here or there that's been on the radio.
What was touring with Megadeth like?
You've heard the Australian tour story?
Yeah, I've heard that story - I was going to touch upon that story later in this interview.
The best part about it was the first big tour, touring with Dio. It was his 'Dream Evil' tour, and that was super cool because we got to play our forty-five minute set, and then got to watch Dio with the lasers and all his stuff. Dio's a legend; I love everything he did, and I was a really big fan of Vivian Campbell on the first Dio album (1983's 'Holy Diver'), which was cool. Craig Goldy was his guitarist at the time, but... so we did that tour. We got to open for Iron Maiden on the 'Seventh Son of the Seventh Son' tour, which was what led to us playing 'Monsters of Rock' at Castle Donington. All those kinds of moments were amazing, and all the touring moments and all the moments onstage, and being in your twenties and seeing every different city, even if you only get to see it for a second. I remember being embarrassed, and I'm looking at the Eiffel Tower.
I was trying to be so dedicated to the band that I'm sitting in my hotel room playing. I didn't actually go to the Eiffel Tower, but just looked at it outside my window. That's the thing when you're on the road; because you're in the city, you soundcheck, play, and got interviews and stuff to do. You're in all these beautiful cities, and you wanna see them, but you also wanna do a good job and play great for the fans every night, so I kinda just stayed in the room like a guitar hermit most of the time.
During early 1988, Nick Menza was brought in as Chuck Behler's drum technician.
"I was totally into 'Peace Sells...'. For me, that's my favourite Megadeth album."
That was cool, because Nick's got a cool back story. I don't know if you know, but his dad played with Buddy Rich, one of the greatest drummers in history. His dad was one of his horn players - he was in Buddy Rich's Big Band. Nick grew up on one side of the States watching Buddy Rich play, which was probably part of the reason Nick was such a motherfucker, an amazing drummer. Actually, Nick got brought in as a drum tech because I wasn't getting along... I didn't want a room with Mustaine, and I didn't want a room with Chuck. I didn't mind sharing a room with Junior, but Junior always wanted a room with Dave, so I ended up rooming with Nick. I ended up not rooming with Chuck, and I wasn't rooming with my own bandmates. I was rooming with the drum tech, so Nick and I got along great while I was in the band. I thought he was as cool as shit.
For me, the best sound that Megadeth had was at soundcheck when it was just Nick, Junior and me just playing through the songs with no vocals... because there were a lot of days on tour like that. Nick would do the soundcheck for Chuck, so that's when I first started playing with Nick. It was cool because we just ended up playing together. We did "In My Darkest Hour" at G. I. T. for a metal workshop - there's a video up on YouTube, and that was fun. I got to play with Nick all these years later, just a couple of years ago.
Were there issues with Chuck? In terms of his playing?
The songs were already fast, and I remember I was always just getting mad after the shows. You're playing in a big arena, so it's already like you're playing in a dumpster, a garbage dumpster - like a big, metal... they're not made for sound. It's not like Carnegie Hall, so the sound is already a little shady. Speed metal sounds great on album, but in a room like that, if it's played too fast then you don't hear the space between the notes, even on the fast stuff. The driving stuff and the double time stuff, if you don't hear the space between the notes then it loses its power.
I just remember getting mad a lot at Chuck for playing this stuff really fast live, because it's letting the adrenaline take you too much. If you're doing a lot of blow, that probably doesn't help... so that was the one thing that I wish could've been pulled back, because I was thinking of John Bonham from Led Zeppelin - how no matter how fast or slow their song is - we call it "The Bonham lag" - he had that lag where he knew how to just play on the backside of the beat. He didn't sound hyped, or like he was falling forward. It was more laid back, and borders upon surfing. That's kinda how I try to approach my music. It's a trick from blues players. Good blues players know how to play behind the beat. I didn't really gel with Chuck, because he's just not my kinda folk.
Megadeth appeared at the 'Monsters of Rock' show at Castle Donington in August 1988, as you said. Following that, the group was scheduled to play shows as part of the 'Monsters of Rock' European tour, but these appearances were cancelled. You said those cancellations were blamed on Dave Ellefson fracturing his wrist.
Fracturing his wrist, yeah. That was so Dave could go back for rehab.
That was the real reason those 'Monsters of Rock' European shows were cancelled?
That was. I'm seeing a lot of fractured wrists, "falling asleep on my arm" - there's a trend there.
So basically then, Dave's talking bullshit?
Mm hmm. The lame thing is if Dave wants to talk bullshit to go back to rehab, then why didn't he say he broke his wrist? Why make Junior say he broke his wrist?
Interview by Robert Gray
Ultimate-Guitar.Com ÂĐ 2010
Head to UG tomorrow, Feb 12th, to read the second part of the interview where Jeff Young responds to Dave Mustaine's allegations against him, and also, to read what Jeff Young's response was on Tuesday to Dave Ellefson rejoining Megadeth!
(Legal disclaimer: The accuracy of the information contained herein is neither confirmed nor guaranteed by Robert Gray / Ultimate-Guitar.com, and the views and opinions of Jeff Young expressed in this interview do not necessarily state or reflect those of Robert Gray / Ultimate-Guitar.com.)