Published Oct 22, 2009It's no surprise that Megadeth front-man Dave Mustaine has been in the metallic spotlight over the past couple of weeks for a few verbal wars.
He's recently battled a journalist for broaching off-limits issues, took aim at our friends at Blabbermouth and now slammed his label, Roadrunner Records, the company responsible for releasing Megadeth's latest effort, Endgame and their home for the past few years.
Via the band's website, Mustaine initially expressed frustration to the world that after a decidedly strong release - Endgame debuted at number nine on Billboard's Top 200 in the U.S. and number four in Canada, selling tens of thousands during its first week - the album sank. And it sank a lot, to only a few thousand per week. This has led Mustaine to begin publicly calling Roadrunner out on the carpet for failing to push the album properly.
However, speaking with Exclaim! recently, he's revealed a far deeper issue that's presumably causing the increasingly ugly situation.
"Sometimes the problems aren't the band's fault," Mustaine says in regards to how internal strife can affect an album's success. "My manager just told me that the president and owner of Roadrunner came out to have a meeting with him. The guy goes, 'Well, since this is your last record [with the label], we want to know if you're going to be signing for more records with us. If not, we're gonna stop selling Endgame.'"
Mustaine's reaction to the label pulling support from the record?
"I said, 'What did he say?' It was embarrassing because we owe Roadrunner one more record, and if I was the owner of a record company and my president thought that one of my top acts doesn't owe me another record... that's a pretty huge fuck-up. The threat was not received well.
"I've already been so screwed with on this record. You'd think, 'Wow, it's coming out and everything's going great. Why would the record company be doing some of the things they're doing?' I don't understand it. I've been doing this for almost 30 years. I'm thinking to myself, 'This is mind-boggling.'"
However, Mustaine notes that while he is chagrined by the offensive action, he's not surprised. Megadeth's dealings with Roadrunner have never been entirely kosher.
"This is the same label that forced me to change 'A Tout Le Monde' [from 2007's United Abominations] to 'Set Me Free' as the title," he expalins. "Would I do something that dumb? Never. Why would I do something that ignorant as changing a song title? But they said, 'Oh, well, the president wants you to change [it] because he doesn't think people in the South can pronounce it.' I said I didn't want to change it. 'If you're not, they feel that you're dis-incentivizing' them to buy or sell the record.' That was threat one. The second was when I was told I was, 'handcuffing them to sell the record if I didn't change the title.'"
He also adds that the issue resides solely with the label's U.S. operations, noting that satellite offices have been avid Megadeth supporters.
"All of the other labels are great. The Canadian label is wonderful - great since day one," Mustaine says. "The bottom line is that there are problems in [Roadrunner U.S.] and we need to correct those problems. If they do, everything will be hunky-dory. If they don't, I have no intention of going through more years of my life with [this] aggravation.
"If it doesn't get straightened out, I'll go on and do something different. I can continue to play for the rest of my life. As far as me continuing to record, there are so many other territories in the world that are doing great for us: UK, Europe, Australia, Japan... [But] in my career, I've done everything I've wanted to.
"I want to live my life being a blessing to other people. We've got a school for underprivileged kids in our studio; giving them a scholarship. It's not a big deal, really, but it's something good to give back to people. That's what's important. I've also got other stuff going on as a producer and songwriter. To have one territory cause me to retire would be counter-intuitive."
Moreover, he says that while this is bad business on behalf of any other label, it's a rather standard-fare issue. Jesting that maybe one day he'll take it upon himself to stand up for abused metal bands around the globe, he says, "A lot of labels do [this] to a lot of bands. But a lot of bands don't have the clout that I do to say they won't put up with that shit. I've thought of when I retire, I could become an entertainment attorney so that I can go after people that harm bands like this, an Erin Brockovich of the metal community. If you know the law, you'll catch 'em doing something."