’A Real Piece of Work’: Ex-Megadeth Guitarist Recalls How Dave Mustaine Fired a Producer Over Odd Behavior

Guitarist Jeff Young, who’s currently with bassist David Ellefson in a new metal band Kings of Thrash, reflected on his work on Megadeth’s album “So Far, So Good… So What!” which was released in 1988. The record initially featured producer Paul Lani who took the band’s leader Dave Mustaine to the legendary Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York to mix the album.

Eventually, Dave fired Lani. Asked about this in a new interview with Ultimate Guitar, Jeff Young said:

“That guy was a piece of work… I gotta say with the disclaimer that I loved the next album he did, which was Enuff Z’Nuff’s ‘Strength’ — that is a killer, killer record and he did an amazing job on that record. Derek Frigo was an amazing guitar player, rest his soul.

“But the thing I liked about Paul was that first night when I went in there, the very first night, he was there when I did ‘Darkest Hour’, and he was jumping around the room saying, ‘This is great, man. You’re killing it. I haven’t had this much fun since I worked with Steve Vai on Alcatraz’s ‘Disturbing The Peace.”

“So I took that as a big compliment and that gave me a lot of confidence to continue to be there and do what I had to do.

To those who may not be familiar, Bearsville Studios is kind of in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by woods. After the mixing process wasn’t going well, Mustaine allegedly decided to fire Lani after witnessing the producer standing outside early one morning, wearing his underwear and feeding an apple to a deer.

It didn’t take long for him to go back to Los Angeles that same day and officially fire Paul Lani. The next one to come in to mix the record was Michael Wagener, although Dave wasn’t particularly happy with his work either.

In My Darkest Hour

Anyhow, Jeff continued:

“I know they went to Bearsville studios. I think that’s Todd Rundgren’s place to mix it and there wasn’t a lot of mixing going on and the mixes weren’t turning out that great and Mustaine called me from Bearsville, none too happy, and I mentioned that I knew Michael Wagener, and I didn’t even think about it when I mentioned that, that he had done ‘Master of Puppets’. I knew him because Michael had just done my demos so he’d been working with me and I’d known him from making some of my demos.

“So when I said I know Michael Wagener, Mustaine jumped on that in a second. I wasn’t even really aware why but that’s what led to Michael Wagener doing the actual mixes to finish it off.

Mary Jane (Remastered)

“When you pull up the digital files, there’s kind of a diary of what went down at Bearsville and Michael Wagener called me and said, ‘What was Paul Lani doing? Out feeding the deer? Because he’s doing a mix like every four, six hours.’ It didn’t seem like there was a lot of work being done.

Reminded of the apple and deer incident, Jeff simply replied “Yeah, there you go,” ultimately confirming that there was something to this story.

Elsewhere in the interview, Young was asked to remember his first guitar. He shared this story:

“My first guitar is a funny story, I had bought a Daisy BB gun out of a local trading post, and my buddy down the street, some months before, bought a guitar – it was one of those classic Sears models where the pickguard is the same color as a Fender medium pick.

"IN MY DARKEST HOUR" - DAVID ELLEFSON, JEFF YOUNG, MIKE HELLER, CHAZ LEON

“I was messing around with the BB gun, and I actually shot a rabbit and it traumatized me. I decided I was never going to do that again.

“Flash forward a few days later, I’m in my buddy’s bedroom and I see that guitar in the back of his closet and I ask him, Hey, dude, what’s up with the guitar? He says, ‘Ah, it’s too damn hard to play.’ And I said well, I’ll trade you that Daisy BB gun for the guitar. The rest is history. I never shot a gun again. The guitar is my weapon now.

Asked about the first song that he learned, Jeff said:

“We’re in the ’70s and right around this time I remember I was listening to heavy doses of UFO ‘Lights Out’ and of course, Zeppelin, Aerosmith, all the usual suspects but actually and technically the first songs I learned to play were ‘Stairway to Heaven’, the intro, the classic thing you never want to do at Guitar Center, and Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ – two timeless little ditties to be sure.

JEFF YOUNG - "IN THE FLESH" (Instrumental) *Middle Solo Teaser

Asked about working with his new band Kings of Thrash, which he formed with David Ellefson not long after the latter’s firing from Megadeth in 2021, he said:

“That’s what’s surreal about it because it’s all-encompassing. It’s all of the above. It’s definitely a new band. We’ve got new blood because two of the members are half David and my age in Fred and Chaz who are very seasoned and mature for their ages, I might add. This is actually the first time I’ve ever really felt like I was in an actual band in my life, where we have camaraderie, and everyone is positive and in a great mood about it.

“It’s not just the band but everyone around the band, the people championing the band and the angels and supporters, people who are helping us, it’s like the polar opposite juxtaposition of what we went through back in the 80s. It just shows how one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, and when you take that element out, and you eliminate the toxicity or the cancer in any system, things get really healthy.

Megadeth - The Decline Of Western Civilization (1988)

“So, we’re all pretty stoked about it and the cool thing for us is, you know, the main core band is the four of us with Chris Poland special guesting as he can. Each one of us kind of has our role and it’s really interesting.

“Fred, our drummer at 33, he’s the one that designed the album cover for ‘Best of the West’ that’s coming out. He’s the graphic designer and he does most of all of our posters that you’ll be seeing for the tours, so that’s really interesting. Chaz, our singer is a lawyer by day. You might not guess that by looking at him.

“So we’ve kind of got a cool self-contained unit where everyone kind of has their roles and it’s a real team spirit kind of thing and I’ve really never encountered that, which may be kind of sad to say, at my juncture in the music business, but better late than never, right?

Photo: Sven Mandel (Megadeth – 2017216231552 2017-08-04 Wacken – Sven – 1D X MK II – 1257 – B70I0729)

  • 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 and brands like Sam Ash.

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