In a recently published interview with Songfacts, Megadeth frontman and mastermind Dave Mustaine was asked to elaborate on some of his comments about wanting to collaborate with Metallica’s James Hetfield. Additionally, Mustaine reflected on some of the other Metallica-related topics he talked about in the media concerning his songwriting credits for some of the band’s early material. When the question about the James collab was brought up, Mustaine replied:
“The last time we talked it didn’t end very well because we have some memory of a couple of things that took place when I was in the band. I remember it one way and he is saying that it happened another. But it’s about somebody else — it’s not even him. He’s talking to me on behalf of ‘you know who’ [Lars Ulrich].
“They wanted to release ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’ [the early Metallica demo Mustaine was on] — 27 songs, posters, flyers, pictures, everything. I said I would love to do this thing, and James said, ‘Look, we fucked up. The last three things we’ve done failed abysmally.'”
“He said it was ‘Lulu’ [Metallica’s collaboration with Lou Reed, released in 2011], something called Orion [a festival called Orion Music + More that took place in 2012 and 2013], and there was one other thing… I think it was a film about a fan or something [the 2013 film Metallica: Through The Never]. I don’t know. I don’t see them as a failure.
“But, I had said, ‘Yeah, I’d be interested.’ And he said, ‘We’d like to get everything right with all the history, the publishing and stuff.’ And I said, ‘Good.’ Because part of the reason why we haven’t been able to really reconcile is because I had songs that when I left I didn’t want them to record, and they went ahead and recorded them but they didn’t pay me what my share of the songs were.”
“James and I wrote ‘Metal Militia’ and ‘Phantom Lord’ – every note. And somehow, on the record [‘Kill ‘Em All’] it says Lars gets 10%. And on ‘Metal Militia’ that Kirk gets some of it, and he wasn’t even in the band!”
“So I’ve come to terms with it, and when he said, ‘We’d like to get this right,’ I said, ‘Great. Let’s do it. I have no problem.’ And when I said, ‘This is what it is,’ he said, ‘No. It’s kind of what it was, and that’s how it is.'”
“And I thought to myself, you know what? When you guys did that to me before, it was not cool. I said, ‘Don’t use my stuff,’ and you did it, and then didn’t give me my fair share. So why would I want to willingly enter into something like that? I wouldn’t. So that’s where we stand right now.”
“I would love to work with James. I’d like to work with Lars again, too, but I think the real talent in Metallica has always been around the guitar – everybody makes fun of the drums.”
“Lars is a really great song arranger. And believe it or not, I watched him on a piece-of-shit acoustic guitar write the opening riff to ‘Ride the Lightning.’ [Sings riff, which turns out to be ‘Master of Puppets’]”
You can check out this particular section of the interview in the embedded player below, Mustaine is clearly singing “Master of Puppets.
“You know what that was? It was a guy with a guitar that doesn’t know how to play, and he’s going [mimics playing a chromatic run] on the neck. It wasn’t anything really mind-blowing by any means. The way James played it made it mind-blowing.“
When the interviewer pointed out that this was not the “Ride the Lightning” riff, which Lars wrote, but rather “Master of Puppets,” Mustaine said:
“Yeah, whatever that is. I don’t fuckin’ know their song names. I don’t listen to them. I totally respect them, I just don’t listen to them. It’s not out of me not liking them. When they come on the radio in my car, a long time ago I would change the channel, but I don’t anymore. It’s just music, and I’ve been able to put all that stuff behind.“
“That’s why when I saw James talking bad about himself, I was thinking, “Fuck that, man. Don’t buy into that.” I don’t know if he’s back in the bottle or not, but I love that guy. I fought somebody because of James. Somebody was going to beat his ass in San Francisco, and I got in between them – and got knocked around a bit myself. But I would never let anything happen to those guys.”
“Somebody picked on Lars and I snapped his leg – you remember that, right? And I’m not a violent person, I’m just very protective of the people I love. And when I see James saying stuff like that, I don’t like it. I want to help him. He probably wouldn’t want my help, but maybe if a couple of guys with guitars and a bag full of chips can get through a conversation and become friends again, who knows?”
Photos: Ralph Arvesen (Lars Ulrich 2017), DoD News Features (James Hetfield (2) – Concert for Valor in Washington, D.C. Nov. 11, 2014), Ralph Arvesen (Megadeth performing in San Antonio, Texas (27420120171))