“I was reluctant right up to the last minute, and then I said, ‘F**k it, I can’t be worse than some of these other dudes’”: Dave Mustaine on his decision to front Megadeth

The frontman auditioned multiple singers before agreeing to take on the role.

Dave Mustaine of Megadeth

Image: SUZANNE CORDEIRO / Getty Images

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Dave Mustaine says he wasn’t initially enamoured with the idea of fronting Megadeth, and auditioned multiple singers before deciding to step into the role himself.

In a new interview in Metal Hammer, the heavy metal singer and guitarist admits that, at first, he wasn’t convinced he should front the band, following his firing from Metallica as lead guitarist.

“I was reluctant right up to the last minute,” he says. “And then I finally said, ‘OK, fuck it, I can’t be worse than some of these other dudes.’”

Mustaine goes on to compare this experience to that of James Hetfield, who only took the role of the rhythm guitarist because Metallica couldn’t find anyone to fill the role.

“When I was in Metallica, I was kind of playing at Lars [Ulrich]’s level, because Lars was still learning to play drums back then,” he continues.

“But watching James play guitar for the first time was kind of shocking, because I didn’t know he knew how to play guitar. We just got fed up one day of auditioning guitar players, just like I did with singers. And he picked up this guitar and started playing, and inside I’m going, ‘Get the fuck out of here. How can you possibly be satisfied being a singer when you play like that? Why not be both?’ I’ve always thought he was a really talented guitarist.”

Mustaine recently recalled how the “anger” he felt after the split from Metallica is what led to the formation of Megadeth.

The guitarist had a two-year stint in the heavy metal band before being sacked in 1983, shortly before the release of debut album Kill ‘Em All.

Mustaine was woken up by the band in New York City and fired on the spot, before being given a one way bus ticket back to Los Angeles.

As Mustaine explains, it was on this journey that he came up with the band name, after seeing the words “the arsenal of Megadeth can’t be rid,” on a political postcard he found on the way.

“I was driven by revenge,” Mustaine explains. “I was angry about what happened with Metallica, and all the way home, I kept thinking ‘I’ll just be faster, I’ll be better and my songs will be heavier.”

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