Dave Mustaine Compares Kiko Loureiro to Marty Friedman, Reflects on Ex-Bandmates Who Couldn’t ’Handle This Level of Exposure’

While recently chatting with Guitar World, Megadeth founder, frontman, and mastermind Dave Mustaine reflected on the band’s current lineup. As expected, he referred to it as the best lineup the band has ever had.

Discussing Megadeth and running the band for about four decades, Mustaine commented:

“If I’m being completely honest, [guitarist] Kiko [Loureiro], [drummer] Dirk [Verbeuren] and [bassist] James [LoMenzo] are the most pleasant people I’ve ever been in a band with.”

“They work hard, aren’t money-driven and live to play. There have been a lot of people in this band, and I’ve dealt with a lot of assholes. Not everyone can handle this level of exposure. Not everyone shares my vision. But I’m not bullshitting you when I say that Megadeth, as it sits right now, is the best it’s ever been in 40 years.”

Mustaine continued praising the lineup elsewhere in the interview, offering:

“To understand how important that is to me, let’s remember how we got there. We had gotten a tour with Iron Maiden, but the whole thing ended because Bruce [Dickinson, Iron Maiden vocalist] got sick. In the blink of an eye, an entire year’s worth of work was canceled, which was financially devastating for [Megadeth’s] Shawn [Drover] and Chris [Broderick].

“So, the management we had took it upon themselves to call Shawn and Chris and say, ‘The tour is now canceled; you should probably go find another job.’ But I didn’t know about this; all I knew was that my drummer and guitarist had quit. I understood the circumstances, and I might have done the same thing, but I would have fucking told me before I went and quit.

“Having me find out afterward tells you all you need to know about Shawn and Chris’s characters. But it’s okay; they’ve got Megadeth on their resume. We had some good times together there for a bit.”

Megadeth - We’ll Be Back: Chapter I

Asked about Kiko, Dirk, and James and how important they were for “flipping the script” in Megadetg, Dave replied:

“This is the best group of people I’ve ever worked with. When I first heard Kiko play, I was enthralled. Megadeth has had guys like Jeff [Young] and Marty [Friedman], but Kiko is the best we’ve ever had.

“I don’t say that because Kiko is in the band now; I say it because it’s the truth. Kiko is the best guitar player out of all of them. When Kiko came in, the wounds from my personality conflicts with Shawn and Chris were fresh, and I had this paradigm of how things were, which I knew I needed to change.

Megadeth - Killing Time: Chapter V

“But Kiko and I got along, and I eventually knew he was a good fit, personality-wise. So, I said to Kiko, ‘Look, you’re gonna join Megadeth, and your life is gonna change.’ And we had Chris Adler helping us on drums, and I hoped he would stay, but he decided to stay with Lamb of God.

“So Chris recommended Dirk, and I fell in love as soon as he came in. I could tell that Dirk was the sweetest man, a phenomenal drummer and very humble. With that, I told Dirk the same thing I told Kiko when he joined: ‘Your life is gonna change, so be ready for it.’

While discussing the issue, Dave also looked back on having to fire original bassist David Ellefson after the leaked video sex chat incident back in 2021. He continued:

“We still had David Ellefson on bass, but as we know, shit hit the fan. I had to dismiss David from the band, and that left us in the position of needing a bassist. The last thing I wanted was some asshole who would get a brain swell from being in Megadeth. I go back to Kiko, who went from being a guitar player in a band that plays in bars to being in a band that plays in arenas, theaters and stadiums, but he took it in stride.

Vital Signs Practicing at Home

“That’s when it dawned on me to invite James back into the band. James has played with Ozzy and has circulated in our industry at the highest levels. He has been great as a band elder, helping those guys when I’m not there. And if I’m being honest, he’s a significant upgrade as a bassist.”

But what some die-hard Megadeth fans might find a bit controversial in what Dave said is that Kiko is the best guitar player that passed through the lineup. While he certainly is one of the most impressive guitar players today, we all know that Marty Friedman also played in Megadeth and is often remembered as one of the most important musicians who ever had the chance to work with Mustaine.

With that in mind, it was only obvious that Dave was going to be asked about it. When prompted to “expand” on calling Kiko the best even though Marty was in the lineup back in the day, he replied:

“Marty is a superb guitar player, one of the best in the world. I’ve said a lot about Marty, but above all else, people need to know that I feel that Marty is a great guitarist. Kiko is better for Megadeth.

“That has nothing to do with skill as much as it has to do with the whole pie. What is their outlook toward touring? What is their outlook toward recording? What is their outlook toward songwriting? We all know that Marty is a unique guy who goes to the beat of his own drum.

“That’s great, but it wasn’t great for Megadeth. I love the music we made together, but people change, and we change with it. Kiko and I share a mindset, and I needed that. I need someone who will contribute and has a shared mindset regarding touring, recording and growing musically.”

Photo: Hiroshi Yamazaki (Marty Friedman – 01), Tilly Antoine (Kiko Loureiro au Hellfest 2022), S. Bollmann (Megadeth Summer Breeze Open Air 2017 18)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.