Despite an alarming reputation, SIMON RUSHWORTH finds Megadeth’s frontman in mellow mood as the band head for Tyneside
OUTSPOKEN Megadeth singer Dave Mustaine is heavy metal Marmite - you love or hate him. But he remains a potent force four decades into a colourful career.
New album Super Collider is out on Monday when Megadeth also begin their UK tour at Newcastle’s O2 Academy.
But can one of metal’s more abrasive characters be mellowing after years spent cultivating a decidedly unpleasant cult of personality?
“Sometimes when you make comments they don’t sit well with certain people,” says Mustaine.
“But it’s my character that matters. Everybody who ever meets me says my reputation precedes me, but I prove them wrong. That makes me happy.”
Happiness isn’t a word that has been associated with Mustaine. A vitriolic split from former band Metallica, countless public spats and battles with alcohol and drugs have earned him hate and derision. Depression plagued him for years.
“Why am I happier than ever?” he muses. “I guess when you do something long enough you get good at it - or at least you get good at fooling the public. That feels great.
“Enough stuff has gone on to show that Megadeth really does have a fan base and so I enjoy that side of it.
“To know that our fans will forgive us the odd wrong turn and still be there feels good. I suppose I’ve come to realise that we’ve really made a difference over the years.”
Finding God appears to have given Mustaine a shot in the arm, with the sharp-as-tacks Super Collider following 2009’s game-changing Endgame and the critically acclaimed Thirteen (2011).
There’s no doubt Megadeth are in a rich vein of songwriting form.
“When you’re out at a club and you hear your song played and you hear someone go ‘wow’, that feels so good,” he adds. “Maybe I just didn’t appreciate that in the past.
“It’s like if someone tells you you’re really good in bed. It’s like ‘really? I’m glad you think so’. But there’s so much that people say. Stuff can go around the world in a second these days. A review can go global in an instant. I accept that and I embrace it.”
One recent Mustaine outburst was against President Obama, which brought a spectacular backlash. Megadeth’s singer blames it on a misinterpretation.
“People think I hate our president,” he adds. “I don’t hate him. I just don’t always agree with him! But that’s something I can get over.”
In 2013 Mustaine is a more eflective and fascinating character, keen to prove he’s not a fading metal head who loves to shoot his mouth off.
“A lot of things happen in life,” he says. “A lot of people don’t think they’ll have as much fun when they get older. But I’m glad I’m getting older.
“A lot of our fans aren’t the same age group as me so that gives me fresh impetus and inspiration. We’ve also stayed true to our roots and that makes me really happy.”