According to Blabbermouth.net, Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine recently took some time to discuss the group's past two decades with Guitar World magazine for its October 2004 issue (cover). Several interview excerpts follow:
Guitar World: Prior to Marty's [Friedman] joining the band, you had been looking at having Dimebag Darrell [PANTERA] fill the guitar slot.
Dave Mustaine: "That's true. That was around 1989. I had just hired Nick [Menza, drums] and Pantera were still playing around Texas. I asked Darrell if he was interested and he says to me [assumes southern accent], 'Yeah, man, but my brother's gotta come, too.' And I said, 'What is he, a roadie?' I told him I already had a drummer, and he said, 'Ah, then fuck it. Good luck, brother!'
For a short time in the very early stages of the band, you had Slayer's Kerry King filling the lead guitar role.
That was before we did the first record. He was just helping us out. He was never a member of the band.
Was he ever asked to join?
I don't think so. And I don't think it would've worked. Because even though I write some pretty dark stuff, being satanic is just not my cup of tea.
What was your opinion of his playing?
Well, before I started showing him my guitar style, he was pretty good. Afterward, he was really good! I showed him a lot of different tricks that he had never seen before. I think I helped him more than he's willing to acknowledge, but as you probably know, Kerry now hates my guts. I don't know why. I don't dislike the guy. But Kerry has a problem, because he hates everybody.
For the new record, you initially tried to get the "Rust In Peace"-era lineup back together.
I gave it a shot. Actually, I recently hired back Nick Menza, but Marty seems pretty happy doing his own thing. And I tried talking with [former bassist Dave] Ellefson, but he wanted too much money. He didn't write or play a lick on this new record, and he wanted more money than he's ever been paid before. And I'm thinking to myself, 'Wait a minute, you're not in a band now, right? Here you have an opportunity to walk into a completed project and live happily ever after, and you want my publishing? Sorry.' So it ended up not happening.
In Megadeth's almost 20 years of recording, this is the first record you've done without Dave Ellefson ? although I recall you discussed replacing him in 1997, around the time of "Cryptic Writings".
The band wasn't grooving the way it had been in the past. Nick had told us that he had a tumor in his leg and that it was cancerous. Of course we were all freaked out, because we love Nick, but then we found out that he was lying. There was a lot of stuff going on then that should remain personal, but basically, I told Marty that we had to get rid of Nick because he had been lying to us. And Marty said, 'Dude, while we're at it, we need to get a bass player that just shits bass parts.'
He had an issue with Dave's playing?
Yeah. In the studio it was kinda hard with Ellefson. He had a real problem playing in time.
Were there any personality clashes?
[laughs] You gotta have a personality to have a clash! Dave is a guy who? I think the reason he kept his job was because he was so politically correct all the time. Because if he stood up for himself even once, he probably would have been fired.