Amazed by the pyrotechnics at Megadeth’s Gigantour, going back in time at Rock USA Oshkosh, watching the famous television and movie clips where Megadeth had been mentioned, ranging from Beavis and Butthead to Wayne’s World, I am super psyched to see what Megadeth has in store for their two Florida festival stops, back-to-back performances at Fort Rock in Fort Myers and Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville. They will be playing alongside a ton of great performers, including Lamb of God, who’s drummer, Chris Alder, has been working and touring with Megadeth. With their new album, “Dystopia,” Megadeth joined forces not only Alder, but also Brazilian thrasher Kiko Laureir, who replaced Chris Broderick on guitar, making for a new sound that has rocketed on the metal scene.
Founding Member Dave Mustaine and Dave Ellefson will continue to be true to their thrash roots.
Author Marisa Williams: With the Fort Rock Festival being in Fort Myers, I was curious if you had any stories from the Southwest Florida area?
Dave Ellefson, bassist of Megadeth: I used to have a beach house in Fort Myers about ten years back. Had a band called Temple of Brutality with Stet Howland of WASP.
Marisa: Oh, really? I love Stet! He’s such a great guy. I first met him when he was playing with his cover band at The Beached Whale on Fort Myers Beach. It was totally unexpected, but I loved his 20-minute drum solo with beer bottles.
Dave: He is a great guy. We played on Jagermeister with Disturbed at Jannus Landing (www.jannusliive.com). We had a really heavy, garage metal record. I played with Ronnie Montrose, and we played Jacksonville and St. Petersburg. We had opened for Def Leppard, so I have quite a bit of history around Florida.
Marisa: Will you be having the montage of Megadeth video like in Oshkosh at Rock USA, or the pyro that you have been known to have?
Dave: We have a whole new show: new songs, new production, new video, entirely new show. I think they’re going to like it. Our new album (Dystopia) came out strong. The shows were well received. Plus, we have two new members in the band, Chris Alder and Kiko Loureir.
Marisa: Will Chris Alder be playing double duty with both Lamb of God and Megadeth at the Fort Rock and Welcome to Rockville festivals?
Dave: We have certain situations where both bands are playing at the same shows, and we have another drummer from Tampa, Tony Laureano. He also is our drummer when Chris plays in Lamb of God. So, any time there is a scheduled conflict, Tony plays. He’s another from the Florida gene pool, which is awesome.
Marisa: Joining forces with Chris Alder (Lamb of God) and Kiko Loureir (formerly of Angra) for this tour, what do each of them bring to the new album that is different from the original lineup?
Dave: I would say they bring that youthful vitality. Chris grew up as a big Megadeth fan, so he has known us from a fan’s point of view. He’s not only an innovative new drummer in the metal scene, he has the history that is part of what he brings to the band now. Kiko is an incredible musician, because he is from Brazil, and he brings this world class musical perspective that you can hear right away on the new album. He has a terrific energy. The live show has captivating appearances, which is important when you are bringing that to the stage.
Marisa: What are the differences between two back-to-back festival shows, compared to two nights back-to-back headlining on your tour?
Dave: On this whole tour, where we have been playing is mostly in hockey arenas, very large venues, occasionally clubs, but very large. When playing for your own fans, you can tailor the set list and show, knowing that they have paid for you in particular. On a festival, there’s always a ‘lil bit of a competition, not with other bands, but when playing with a lot of bands, that person in the audience may not be your fan. I think that the biggest thing in a festival setting is to win over the hearts of the new fans, and build upon the fans who may be there simply because of you being on the festival lineup. It becomes a little bit of a double mission there.
Marisa: As a musician that has played around the globe, can you talk about what it is like to play to an international audience? Do you have any advice for people who travel overseas, or are thinking of traveling overseas with their bands? What adjustments do you make when traveling into foreign countries, and are there any differences in audiences around the world?
Dave: With heavy metal music, and with Megadeth in particular, the audience is the same around the globe, regards of race, gender, or culture. They’re really the same everywhere, and they are the stability for us when we travel. My advice is that you are a guest in their country, so behave as such. It’s wise to stay out of political and religious commentary while on their soil. One of beauties of traveling the globe with a guitar in your hand is that the guitar has taken myself and my cohorts to more places than we ever thought. I have learned so much more history and geography by traveling, more than being in high school. I think it’s best to enjoy the journey.
Marisa: Did you foresee the longevity when you started with Megadeth, and do you have any advice for longevity in the music industry?
Dave: In Megadeth, we are very lucky to have a unique sound style. We originated thrash metal, and not every band is going to have that moment in time where they are that group, regardless of if they have great songs. There’s a fine difference between good and great, because great stands the test of time. If you have the skills to write great songs, those song will continue to be played forever for people. There will always be an audience. Regardless of what gimmicks and hairstyles change, people get older, so you can’t always count on that. With great songs, there will always be people who always want to come and see that and buy those records.
Marisa: Do you feel any pressure from so many fans across the world looking up to you?
Dave: No, not really any pressure. I think one of the beauties is that we are just four regular dudes. That’s the good thing of metal, it takes away the pretentiousness. Chris comes from a generation behind us of top notch thrash. His presence is a reminder of that. Regardless of bands like KISS, Areosmith, or any of the flashy flamboyant bands, metal is music of the people, by the people, for the people. I think that’s the beauty of thrash; it’s respected around the world. It’s music for regular people by regular people that makes it so.
Marisa: Can you walk us through the production of a song on the album, perhaps one song that stands out to you for a particular reason while it was being created? Perhaps inspiration behind a song, musical technique used, or something that changed during production or from the original aim of the song?
Dave: Poisonous Shadows is one of the ones that has gotten the most notice. It’s a big, powerful track, but for Megadeth, it could be a ballad of sorts. I’ve never heard anyone refer to it in that sort of way, but in my mind, I put it into that category. It has musical sensitivity to it. It’s loud and soft, with a big chorus, and it’s very dramatic. Take the simple riffs, take guitar to it and put it on the record. We’ve turned a lot of heads, including our own. It turned into a masterpiece, and it’s nice to be able take pride in yourself.
Marisa: Do you have any favorite musical techniques, whether they are something that you use, or perhaps something in another genre?
Dave: When growing up, it was the age of shred. We were coming out of 70’s, which was probably the most experimental decade of recording. There were so many new sounds, such as from using the Leslie organ and different effects. By the time the 80’s came around, what happened as far as playing goes, it became shred. With musicians like Eddie Van Halen pushing the envelope on the instrument, those things became inspiration to me. With Megadeth’s sound, when we went to California, there was lot of music, but in Europe, the music had a classical overtone to it. That is the thing that found its way into Megadeth, such as playing minor chords with a harmonic binder. Theory found its way into the band, giving it a dark, almost spooky sort of sound…
Marisa: After traveling the globe, and throughout all your years as musician, are there any bands that you would suggest that people check out, coming from a musical standpoint? It does not have to be a new band, but perhaps some that were influential to you?
Dave: Mercyful Fate was a band, they came from Denmark. King Diamond made a name for himself as a solo artist. That band, when they made musical arrangements, the riffs they wrote, those are components very different than what was going on in America on the radio. It was more melodic than the mainstream sounds over here. We covered “Melt the Ice Away” on Dystopia, a song that was originally done by Budgie from Brittan. They were around many years ago, in the 70’s. They were a very progressive three piece, not necessarily metal, but they had a different approach to heavy riff rock. Our backbone is the riff, studying the riff and the people who wrote the great riffs. There’s Black Sabbath, of course, and underground ones that did things uniquely different.
Marisa: That’s funny you should mention Black Sabbath, because I toured with Ozzfest way back in 2002. In thinking of Ozzfest, and other big festivals put on by bands, how do you see your festival rivaling other band festivals, such as Ozzfest, or even Metallica’s Orion Festival?
Dave: We have Gigantour, which is a touring festival, but we play it selectively. It’s fickle in North America and touring traffic. It’s certainly the most successful in months during the summer. The tour we just did was wrapped up in five weeks. It was very successful. The new record came out like gangbusters. We’ve been touring the new record as a big band in hockey arenas, so we try to do it in a time when there’s not a lot of tours going around. In America, we have big festivals, which is also terrific. I’m thrilled to see the American festival summer mindset over a big touring package. It brings a local flavor, not just one that travels across the country. With Gigantour, we try to be very aware of that, being able to get right fit of bands, but still offer a very diverse, heavy metal show. It’s our way to bring something very cool to people in our own unique way.
Marisa: Is there anything that we did not get to that you want to make sure to add in, clothing thoughts?
Dave: Send traffic to Megadeth.com. We are very excited to be coming down to Florida, thrilled that there are summer festivals happening there, bringing people together in Florida. I’m glad to see they are finally doing in America like they have been doing in Europe for decades.
The New Megadeth album Dystopia is available on a limited edition vinyl. Be sure to check out Megadeth on their upcoming tour dates:
Apr 28 Coliseo de Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
Apr 30 Fort Rock @ JetBlue Park Ft. Myers, FL
May 1 Welcome to Rockville @ Metropolitan Park Jacksonville, FL
May 7 Carolina Rebellion @Rock City Campgrounds Concord, NC
May 20-22 Rock On The Range @ MAPFRE Stadium Columbus OH
May 22 Rock‘n Derby @ Shaghticoke Fairgrounds Schaghticoke, NY
May 26 Badlands Pawn Sioux Falls, SD
May 27-29 Rocklahoma @ Catch The Fever Festival Grds Pryor, OK
May 29 River City Rockfest @ AT&T Center San Antonio, TX
Some of the other bands that will be playing alongside Megadeth at the Fort Rock Festival:
Five Finger Death Punch
Welcome to Rockville bands also include:
Miss May I
We Came As Romans
Texas Hippie Coalition
The author of more than 100 books, Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University; for more on Marisa, visit www.lulu.com/spotlight/thorisaz and www.twitter.com/booksnbling.