By Keith CarmanEarlier this month, heavy metal luminary/Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine released Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir, a new book that touches on the obvious (formative years as a virtual street kid and the over-discussed Metallica debacle), the private (personal relationships/religious beliefs) and a lot in between. It recounts thoughts, experiences and memories on a truly adventurous life, something Mustaine admits was quite purifying.
"It was really cathartic," he tells Exclaim! of the autobiography in a recent interview. "When you're putting your life down into a book, you wonder what you're gonna leave behind you. I want to leave a legacy of achievement but one that says you can overcome anything. I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I had to work my ass off to get what I have and I love what I have. I'm very grateful for it and I don't take it lightly."
More importantly however, thanks to living up to the ages-old adage of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, Mustaine has a lot of stories, some that could land people in pretty hot water. He notes that the experience of personal documentation taught him a thing or two about some other judicious aspects that couldn't be glazed over.
"There were a lot of other things legally we had to look at because there were a lot of people in my life that, if I tell the story, they're going to jail," Mustaine says. "It's not about getting pissed off. They're going to jail. Nowadays when you tell a story... say there was a dude I had an encounter with [but] we don't know each other anymore. I [relate] the story and all of a sudden someone goes sniffing into that person's life. It's an invasion of privacy so there's that and there's the fact that there are ambulance chasers everywhere. We had to word it in a way that the information got out but still told the same story. Legally, the same thing being said one way is totally malicious another way. That's something I had to learn.
"It's very bizarre — for lack of a better word—trying to figure out how to tell a story two different ways and keep it the same story. When you see somebody who's an attorney working somebody in the witness chair, they need to ask the right questions to get the right information out. That's basically what happened. We had to word it in a way that the information got out but still told the same story. Legally, the same thing being said one way is totally malicious another way. That's something I had to learn."
Still, Mustaine notes that jumping a few hurdles to ensure subpoenas weren't filling his mailbox was far from the most difficult aspect of Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir. Fessing up was far more invasive and challenging.
"Telling the truth is hard for anybody," he explains. "The only uncomfortable thing about this was putting the stuff in there that made me look bad, but I had to in order for it to be the truth. I could have written a book that was all about, 'Oh, I love me. I'm so beautiful and wonderful,' but that wouldn't be true. I don't think I'm that great and the beauty of the book is that I am fallible. Who would laugh at comedy if it didn't have people making mistakes? The root of comedy is people doing stupid stuff. Some people laugh at different stuff though. I remember reading the book and at the part where the girl is tossed into the grass and all the vodka bottles are pitched around her head. I laughed at that 'cause I remember the day. She was so wasted and we had to leave so we drove her to her apartment and hoofed her on the lawn. She was like a lawn troll out there."
When all is said and done, however, this purging of sorts has helped Mustaine leave the past behind, allowing him to contemplate the future.
"I don't know how much longer my career's gonna be," he reveals. "Is it gonna be one more record? Well at least one 'cause I owe that to Roadrunner. After that, I'm gonna be 50. Do I wanna keep doing this? I don't know. I've got some great opportunities with management and so on. I've always thought that if I'm not playing in a band, I'd like to stay in the music industry somehow. That's why I created Gigantour, which we'll do next year. Otherwise, though, would I be an attorney? Ah, I don't know... I'm not really good at being a liar. Being a manager? That seems like fun. Having a label? I talked to [Metallica's] Lars [Ulrich] about that when we were overseas and he said he hated it. I listened and thought there's some wisdom there so I scratched it off my bucket list.
"At this point now, I love who we are and it's amazing to be still playing music almost 30 years after I started. It's an accomplishment and looking back, there are some things I'd change. I honestly never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings but it happened and that's probably the only thing I'd change: some of the pain I caused other people. As far as the pain I caused myself, I wouldn't change it. It's all part of making me who I am."
Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir is out now on It Books.
Stay tuned for our full Dave Mustaine interview here on Exclaim.ca.