It was a long time coming, but this past weekend, Megadeth took home their first GRAMMY Award; the title track from Dystopia won Best Metal Performance. It was their twelfth nomination and metal fans rejoiced as they watched the band win (the award was presented during the pre-telecast, which was streamed at GRAMMY.com). And then, as the band walked up to the stage to receive their award, the house band played “Master of Puppets” by Metallica… Dave Mustaine’s former band.
Mustaine took it with a sense of humor — he says he didn’t notice the Metallica song at the time — and is just happy to have been recognized. So when Radio.com spoke with him earlier today (February 15) he was in good spirits, and happy to talk about Megadeth’s next big project: the Megadeth Boot Camp, where fans camp out at Dave’s estate for a weekend of acoustic performances, instrumental lessons, beer and wine tastings; fans will even get the opportunity to record their own vocals over the master recording of Megadeth’s classic “Symphony of Destruction.” Mustaine and co. have seriously raised the bar on the fan experience game.
Congratulations on the GRAMMY! How did it feel to win that?
I was happy to have been there in any capacity, and to have been nominated for a GRAMMY… the GRAMMY is a symbol of excellence. And we worked for this f—er!
So what did you think when the house band started playing Metallica?
You know what? I didn’t even notice it. It just sounded like some music in the background. The funny thing is that when I went back and listened to my acceptance speech, and I heard the song, I was like, “Wow!”
Everyone was asking me, “What about the Metallica thing?” And I said, “I didn’t hear it, I just saw it.”
“How could you not have heard it?” I didn’t know what they were talking about. I thought that they were talking about Metallica’s performance. Because we split [after the pre-televised awards]. By the time they did their thing with Lady Gaga, we were across the street eating dinner.
So I went back and listened to my acceptance speech and I went, “Wow!” I didn’t mind them playing it at all, it’s a house band, and they’re doing cover songs. They were probably saying, “We don’t know any Megadeth songs, how about if we do a Metallica song?”
But when I went back and listened to it, I was like, “Oh my God, that’s the worst version of ‘Master of Puppets’ I’ve ever heard in my life!”
The house band seemed to be playing pretty random songs. Still, for the metal category, they could have just covered Sabbath instead of Metallica.
They could’ve done a Cyndi Lauper song! [laughs] I was just happy to be up there. It’s about being recognized. We all want so badly, when we pick our careers as kids, to be the best at what we do, and when you choose to be a musician, the stakes are much different. The way they “grade” us, the way they hold us in esteem, how you tell who is better than who.
I’d read an interview where you said you really wanted to win a GRAMMY, and you want to be voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Not that it’s a be-all, end-all thing. You work hard, there are certain awards that are achievable, why not strive to achieve them. It’s not like if I don’t win, my life is incomplete. With Metallica being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already, in a way, I’m in [the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame]. But I would like to get my band in there so that it’s all of us, and I can stand there with my bandmates and we can hi-five and hug and all that kind of stuff. Last weekend at the GRAMMYs, it was fun to say, “We did it!”
We just recently got this CLIO Award for creative marketing [for the “Dystopia” Virtual Reality Experience], and there’s another award called the Genesis Awards from the Humane Society of the United States and they presented us with the Doris Day Award [for producing work which raises public awareness of animal issues]. We’ve got some awards that other bands will never get!
Tell me about the “Megadeth Boot Camp.” Was the idea pitched to you?
The boot camp thing was pretty fun to hear about, it wasn’t something that we’d thought about doing. Our management had been involved with the guys from 30 Seconds to Mars, and they told us about this “boot camp” that they had, and it was really fun for their fans, and it was really cost effective for them because it wasn’t done on the cheap. I want everything that we do to always be a great experience. I don’t want the sleeves to rip off on our t-shirts.
I’ve got a house in southern California, it’s an estate, it’s on ten acres, there’s a river runs behind it and there’s a salt water pool, our vineyard is there, there’s a studio, a stable, a bunch of pastures and s— like that. So I thought, how about we do our boot camp here? So people can camp out in those fancy heavy duty tents, and for the people who don’t want to do that, they can rent a room at one of the hotels that are right down the street. So far, there are about 100 people that are going for it. We were gonna cap it at 100-150, most definitely we would not go past the 200 mark. We’re gonna be filming it, there’s going to be clinics teaching people how to play instruments, and learn about songwriting.
We have the original studio recordings of “Symphony of Destruction,” and everybody can sign up for an additional event where they go into the studio for a half hour and sing they lyrics to “Symphony” and then we mix down their own version with them singing .
On the last day, we’ll all sit together around the campfire and we’ll all play “Symphony” with 150 people strumming acoustic guitars together, which I think will be super awesome. Not a “kumbaya” kind of moment, but I think it’ll be cool!
Have you started thinking about the next album yet?
Yes, we have. Usually, when I finish a record I put the guitar down and don’t pay attention to it for a while. It’ll start to call to me, and fortunately recently it’s been calling to me a little bit. It’s just kind of hard because I don’t want to get engrossed in something and then realize that it’s going to be another year before I get into the studio.
So, it sounds like the next Megadeth album will be out in 2018?
Most definitely, we’re not doing anything [in the studio] this year, we’ve got two big U.S. tours this year, and then we’ve got a bunch of European dates that we’re doing too, so we’re pretty busy.
I’ve heard you’re going to open for someone who you’ve never played with before.
At the end of the year, we will be.
I read about that online.
Yeah – it’s funny, I could say the dumbest s— in the world on twitter, and it ends up being a headline.