Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine doesn’t need an election year to inspire a little socio-political snarl in his songs. But rest-assured there are plenty of those on the band’s new album, Dystopia.
“It’s funny; if you know how to put current events into perspective, it’ll be timely as well as timeless,” Mustaine told Billboard. “I think that ‘The Threat is Real,’ ‘Post-American World,’ those are things that could have been sung about in the ’60s and they could be sung about 10 years from now — if there is a world 10 years from now. I mean, if the world is meant to heal itself, it’s like in the Batman movie [Tim Burton’s Batman] where the guy said, ‘This town needs an enema.’ We need to have some real, real heavy-duty, fundamental changes with what’s going on.”
Mustaine is not altogether convinced that the current crop of politicians, and particularly the presidential candidates, will get that job done, though.
“I’ve seen 10 presidents come and go during my lifetime and I can’t help but ask myself if this is the best we’ve got,” he said. “You think about some of the things people are capable of doing, the inventions they come up with and the things you see them do, like some of these Nobel Prize winners… I’m not talking about Obama. I’m talking about people who come up with cures for diseases and come up with incredible things that benefit mankind. Where are the people like that? When people get a taste of greed and stuff, they lose sight of what’s right. It’s like a fighter: as soon as they go from being somebody who works out in a sweat lodge and practices to finally becoming the champ, the dollar signs get in the way and they lose perspective. The next thing you know, they’re knocked out. I think as long as the corruption is as rampant as it is right now and you have all the different factions, it’s not gonna get any better.”
Megadeth, meanwhile, is has made its own recovery in recent years. There was “quite a lot of drama” during the interim between 2013’s Super Collider and Dystopia, which comes out Friday. (Performances from a Virtual Reality package available at the group’s website are previewed below.). The group lost two members — guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover — and changed management a couple of times. There were discussions about reuniting the 1994 Rust in Peace lineup with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza, which Mustaine said “was an absolute abortion.” By the time Megadeth hired Angra guitarist Kilo Loureiro and brought in Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler, who will be splitting time between both bands, and got into the studio in Tennessee, Mustaine and company were chomping at the bit to make music and prove the band’s mettle yet again.
“There’s an old saying that when you find silver and heat it up all the bad stuff comes to the surface and then it’s the silversmith’s gig to clear away that dross, the stuff that’s on time,” notes Mustaine, who produced Dystopia with assistance from Toby Wright. “Every time we’ve had one of these meltdowns, by the grace of God I’ve been able to figure out how to turn that conflict into something that makes us better every time and I do think it’s a tremendous motivator. Revenge, anger, complacency, stuff like that, those are things that really motivate me. When someone said something and challenges me, I get angry and I get motivated.”
Dystopia ends with a cover of Fear’s “Foreign Policy,” another one of those tracks that’s as appropriate to current events as it was when it was first released in 1982. “I’m a huge Fear fan,” Mustaine said. “The lyrics of ‘Foreign Policy’ are so poignant right now. The foreign policy of the United States right now is probably the least successful as it’s ever been in my 54 years of walking this planet. It was a perfect note to end the record on.”
Megadeth launches a North American tour on Feb. 20 in Dallas, with appearances at festivals such as Monster Energy Fort Rock, Welcome to Rockville, Carolina Rebellion and Rocklahoma in the spring. The group heads to Europe in May and June, with more shows to be announced for the balance of the year. Adler, meanwhile, is considered a full-fledged member of Megadeth, which he’s acknowledged is his own favorite band.
“My understanding is at the end of their current campaign they’re gonna be taking a break for a little while, so we’ll be having him for ourselves, and then when things start back up again for them hopefully we’ll have worked enough so that we’ll tack time off and he’ll be going back and forth between the two,” Mustaine explains. “The great thing is Lamb of God is Chris’ band, which he loves, and Megadeth is Chris’ favorite band that he loves, and now he’s in it. So he’s got the best of both worlds with the band he formed and the band he grew up on. And Chris is an excellent athlete and he loves playing, so this is a dream situation for him.”