Thu 17th Nov, 2011 in Features
Megadeth have just released their latest album, Th1rt3en, and they are still showing the same clarity of direction and urgency that made them the most notorious band in thrash metal. Sticksman Shawn Drover has been presiding over the band’s chaotic rhythm section for the past eight years. Drover is straight-up, full of energy and even enthusiastic in his answers real “fan-boy” questions. He explained the return of original bassist Dave Ellefson, why a Big 4 tour of Australia is “a no-brainer” and how despite his reputation, Dave Mustaine is actually the most relaxed guy in thrash.
Dave Mustaine is known as for being pretty outspoken. Do discussions or arguments in the band get pretty heated if you disagree on something?
We really don’t disagree on much, at all. I’ve been in the band for eight years now. We get along very well, because we really share the same vision of what ultimately we want Megadeth to be. That’s to be the best in every aspect of the band. How we present ourselves on stage or in interviews. So there is really not a lot of room for disagreements in anything. You can almost pick 3/4s of the setlist. We all know we have to play Hanger 18, Holy Wars, Peace Sells, Symphony of Destruction. There are eight or nine songs that we have to play for the rest of our career.
With that said, we are going to have to play three or four songs from the new record so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for other songs. There’s not a lot of room for us to disagree on anything to be honest. Plus we’re all good friends anyway, so we don’t really get too caught up in petty shit anyway. We know what we’re supposed to be doing, and that’s what the focus is on, just presenting ourselves the best way we can and playing the best you can.
Do you think he’s chilled out over in the eight years you’ve been in the band?
No I don’t really think so. By the time I joined the band, obviously you’re referring to all the crazy stuff they were doing 25 years ago. It’s not like that anymore. When I joined the band he was a completely chilled out person, very calm about a lot of things. He really hasn’t changed much since I joined the band. All the crazy things that they did back in the day, I wasn’t in the band at the time so I really can’t comment on that.
As far as the time I’ve spent in the band, he’s been a very chilled out individual, which is great. I wouldn’t want to have been a part of all the insane debauchery that was going on in the early Eighties. For me, I’m too old. We’re all too old for that shit now, you know what I mean. For us, the focus is on the music, on what we do in Megadeth. All the partying and all that kind of stuff, that kooky stuff that everyone did in the Eighties, is pretty much long gone now, certainly for us.
When Dave Ellefson first re-joined the band did it feel like a big part of Megadeth has returned with him?
Yeah, of course. He’s the original bass player. He was the guy who was there with Dave when they wrote all those records for 20 years. To have him back in the band, for me personally was very cool, because I’ve been a fan of Megadeth since 1985. Looking at it from a fan perspective, I thought that was very awesome. There’s just something about playing with someone who was on all those records. Everything just fits in so easily and sounds exactly the way it should sound on the record.
Not to take anything away from James MacDonough and James LoMenzo, who were in the band before. You can get ten guitar players to play a song, and then get the guy who wrote it, and it always sounds a little bit different, you know what I mean. Especially with Dave, he has such a unique style in the way that he does chord phrasing and that kind of thing. He really has his own style. It’s more difficult to emulate than you might think. It was really cool to have him back in the band. We’ve got the main nucleus of what’s been Megadeth for many, many years and it’s very cool.
Dave Ellefson said you pushed for New World Order to be re-recorded for Th1rt3en. Why this one in particular?
Dave Mustaine originally came up with the idea, which was re-recording New World Order and Millennium of the Blind. Because, although they were released on Youthanasia as bonus tracks when they re-released the entire catalogue, they were only demos. And Dave came up with the idea, saying “You know, what do you guys think of perhaps doing these songs?” I love both songs, but New World Order in particular, I thought, if we can re-record this song with great production and the whole thing, it could song amazing. I think it’s a really great song.
As the recording process went on, I kept lobbying for it, and kept mentioning “hey, let’s try to record these songs and see how they turn out.” I just really pushed for it. Dave came up with the initial idea, but I’m certainly the one who fought and lobbied for those two songs to be on the record, and I’m glad that they turned out to be on the record. I think they’re both great.