We meet heavy metal legends ahead of Gulf Bike Week
Heavy metal is a dark, ugly world. No, we don’t mean the demonic lyrics and jagged record-sleeve fonts. We mean the infighting, egos and competitive band showdowns. Thrash behemoths Megadeth are one of the genre’s biggest exponents, shifting a reported 38 million records over a three-decade history. But it’s hardly been a clean fight: as if to prove that art really does imitate life, they’ve had more line-up changes than fictional rock parody Spinal Tap, having played with more than 20 official band members.
Embittered frontman Dave Mustaine is renowned for making inflammatory remarks to the press, more often than not aimed at arch rivals Metallica, a band he was kicked out of during the early days. Of course, he was the one member of the quartet Time Out was told was unavailable for interview. However, we did get to speak to the other surviving founder member, bassist Dave Ellefson, a man who just eight years ago sued Mustaine for Dhs68 million following a royalties dispute, part of an six-year feud that miraculously vanished in 2010 when he rejoined the band. That’s the last thing Ellefson wants to talk about, but still, here’s what the 47-year-old bassist had to say about Megadeth’s mega-chequered history.
On getting through 20-plus band members… ‘We’re one of the bands where that happens, but to that end there’s always been a freshness to the sound – the sound reinvents itself a little bit. Since [I rejoined] it’s started to sound like vintage Megadeth. I really am thankful we are able to keep creating new records – it’s a music of past and future.’
On metal’s outsider status… ‘It’s funny with this kind of music. Rock’n’roll is popular – at the start metal was underground, the [illegitimate] child of rock’n’roll. I see thrash as the first genre to take the energy of punk, with the prowess of heavy metal. Skinheads and metalheads – you could tell what they listened to by their haircuts – were brought together by thrash.’
On how long they can keep it up… ‘I think we’ll just keep going until we don’t go any more. We’re in a position where we can write new music and create new records, and go back and bring those classics back to life. As an artist, you create for yourself. I’m really looking forward.’
On the feud with Mustaine… ‘Now me and Dave are back together, my role is more apparent than before. It takes Dave and his brashness to make Megadeth the fire blood it is, but it takes me as mediator – talking to fans, talking to people like you – to make Megadeth, and to be recognised for that now is important.’ Megadeth play Gulf Bike Week at Festival Park, Festival City, on Thursday October 18. Doors 7.30pm, tickets Dhs300-500. www.gulfbikeweek.com.