By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Recording in Nashville one time, Mustaine couldn’t get any plum paste, so he was told to do what Amy Grant does: eat Lay’s potato chips. “You know, I’ve got an addictive personality. I saw myself comin’ home after the record — ‘God, you sound great, Dave. Too bad you put on 400 pounds.’ As soon as I started eatin’ ’em, I couldn’t stop.”
Well, he stopped soon enough; he stayed thin. Seems like you can stop a lot of things if you want to. Maybe you can even stop changing personnel. These particular four say they actually like each other. They sound tough on record, but they seem like nice guys.
Pitrelli: “We’re friendly guys.”
Ellefson: “To a point.”
Mustaine: “There’s a very dark side to everyone, and I appreciate it in me. It’s a good friend, and has been for a long time, because it was my survival technique. I mean, 1976, a 15-year-old boy living on his own” — dealing drugs in Orange County after leaving home — “you need to have a dark side.”
I ask Ellefson which side of Mustaine dominates. “He can be a nice guy. I’ve gotten to know his dark side pretty well.”
I say there must be those who consider Mustaine an asshole — all the musicians he’s fired, for instance. But Mustaine runs through his reasons for the dismissals, and (from his side anyway) they don’t seem irrational. Some had problems with disappearing gear. One showed a trifle too much imagination when it came to Mustaine’s squeeze. One invented a medical emergency so he’d have an excuse to leave. Another just quit. Well, it’s a tough job.
Mustaine delays the photo shoot for 15 minutes while he repairs to his hotel room. What’s he doing? Snorting blow? Not these days. Calling his family, he says on returning. Wife and two kids. “I just try to stay in touch. One of the reasons my son’s doing so good in school right now is because I’m really involved. And it’s hard. Especially with my life. His mom’s the judge, and I’m the sheriff. She sets the law, and I enforce it. And she digs that, because she’s totally got support. But my son thinks he can be like me, and get shit like that.” He snaps his fingers. “But it won’t work. One time he punched his mom in the back, and I said, ‘Don’t ever . . . do that to my wife.’ And that’s paraphrasing.”
Mustaine has observed that the strap of my tape-recorder case is scrunching my lapel. He carefully straightens out the mess, no comment.
Now, would an asshole do that?