Dave Mustaine Says Early Mötley Crüe and Metallica Were Pretty Similar, Recalls Early Metal Subgenre Labels

Megadeth frontman and leader Dave Mustaine reflected on the early 1980s metal scene and the variety of metal subgenre labels that emerged among the fans of the era. As he states, at that stage, the bands weren’t that different and the labels seemed a bit redundant.

Speaking to Heavy Consequence in the interview, Mustaine looked back at those times and explained how “glam metal” and “thrash metal” were pretty similar. He said:

“The whole thing with glam and thrash at the time, metal had so many different factions and splinters that had taken place in the very beginning. We were all heavy metal.”

Mötley Crüe - Live at the US Festival (1983)

In fact, although one of the biggest names in the thrash metal subgenre, Mustaine seems to have been baffled by the labeling back in the day. He added:

“And then, you started hearing people called the power metal trio, and then there was, ‘Well, heavy metal’s not good enough because you’re thrash metal.’”

“‘What’s thrash metal? I’m fucking playing all over the place. OK. We’re not thrash, we’re speed metal.’ ‘What the fuck is speed metal?’ ‘We’re faster than thrash.’”

Metallica with Dave Mustaine - Live In San Francisco 1983 [Full Concert] /mG

“‘OK. Well, we ain’t thrash or speed…we’re black metal!’ ‘Well, what the fuck is black metal?’ ‘Well, we talk about the dark side.’ ‘OK. Well, we ain’t black. We’re white metal!’ ‘Well, what the fuck is white metal?’ ‘Well we talk about the light.’”

“‘OK. So, what about, uh…death metal? What about all the other types of metal? Outlaw metal, grind metal, punk metal?’”

While discussing the matter, Mustaine also looked back on Metallica’s early material and compared it to what Mötley Crüe were doing back in the day. To Dave, it all felt too similar to be put into all these unnecessary categories:

“So, what do I think between glam and between heavy metal? Let’s boil it down to its least common denominator. Let’s look at the first two albums by Mötley Crüe and Metallica.”

Metallica Live At The Metro 1983 (HD) (Full Concert) 720P HQ

“You can’t really say that the first Mötley Crüe record [‘Too Fast for Love’] didn’t have some metal tracks on it – because ‘Take Me to the Top’ or ‘Live Wire’ had the same kind of real fast right hand picking like James [Hetfield] and I were doing.”

“And when Vince [Neil] was first singing and James was first singing, their voice was very similar in the registry where it was at. They both sang really high.”

However, Mustaine does admit that there were some noticeable differences and that Metallica would have made things a bit heavier if they covered some Crüe songs:

“But I think that if you would have taken those two songs and had Metallica record them, they would have been heavy as fuck. Probably would have stayed pretty similar because we were doing a lot of copy songs.”

Mötley Crüe - The Pop N' Rocker Game Live Performance (1984)

“And so, when you take a band that is dressing up, wearing high heels, wearing leather, wearing makeup, using hairspray, belts and chains and big hoop earrings and jewelry and fingernails painted and stuff like that, and start getting way into mascara, lipstick, foundation, all that kinda shit, that’s somebody’s impression of what a rock star is supposed to look like.”

“I promise you, if you go up to a guy who’s dressed up like that, who has that kind of an image, and, and you say, ‘What is this image that you’re going for? What would it be described as?’ They would say they’re a rock star. And I think if you go to a little kid and you said, ‘What is this?’ They would say, ‘You’re a rock star.’ Not that ‘You’re glam.’”

Speaking of Dave and Metallica, after his firing from the band, he was replaced by Kirk Hammett who’s still in the band. In another recent interview, Dave also — surprisingly — praised Kirk Hammett’s playing skills. However, what’s not as surprising is that he praised him for doing proper justice to his lead parts in Metallica’s early material that he came up with.

Metallica - The Four Horsemen [Cliff Em All DVD] HD

When asked about Metallica’s new album “72 Seasons” and “whether the recent flak that Kirk has taken for his solos is fair,” Mustaine replied:

“It depends on which solos you’re talking about [laughs]. Jokes aside, I’ve always kind of poked fun at Kirk. And unfairly so, as he never did anything to me.“

“Whenever I felt singled out, picked on, or antagonized by James [Hetfield] or Lars [Ulrich], it was really easy to pick on Kirk.“

“But the truth is Kirk did me an honor by trying to play my solos on those early songs the way he did.”


When asked to elaborate, he said:

“Well, I think that some people would have just started over again. So, I thought it was honorable that Kirk took my solos and did his best to play them as I did. That couldn’t have been easy.“

“But as far as his new solos on the new Metallica album, I haven’t heard them, so I can’t comment. But I will say that I think it’s sad how quickly some people can turn on people.“

Metallica: Metal Militia (Landgraaf, Netherlands - June 17, 2022)

Further praising Hammett, he added:

“There was a time when Kirk won every guitar contest in the world, and I don’t think he’s gotten any better or worse as a player.“

“He’s always been really good. Kirk was a good player when he was in Exodus. And he’s been steady the entire time he’s been in Metallica. But does that mean Kirk Hammett is Dave Mustaine? No. And is Dave Mustaine Kirk Hammett? Also, no.”

Photo: Selbymay (HF2022Megadeth 2), Kreepin Deth (James Hetfield live in Amesterdam 29 April 2023)


  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.