Dave Mustaine Elaborates on the Hetfield Collab and Absolutely Nukes Lars in the Process
Last week, we ran a story in which Dave Mustaine said he was close to collaborating with James Hetfield again, but ongoing publishing disputes killed that effort. It was shocking. It was disappointing. And mostly it was another opportunity for the Megadeth frontman to shit on Metallica a bit. It was par for the course, really.
Well, in a recent interview with Greg Prato of Songfacts, Mustaine was asked to go into a little more detail about the plans to collaborate, as well as the discussion surrounding his publishing dispute. And while a normal artist would probably opt to say nothing or want to keep things chill in the interest of maybe being able to hash things out behind the scenes, this is Dave Mustaine we’re talking about…
So since that dude can’t help himself and we’re here for it, I’ve decided to break down the long ass quote so you don’t have to.
“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’.”
Yes, Dave. We all know you mean Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. No need to be coy.
“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.
If this interaction is true, that’s some interesting insight into the Metallica camp. We knew they’d been hemorrhaging money as a result of things like the Orion festivals, everyone knows that Lou Reed collaboration was garbage, and the movie wasn’t successful by any metric, but to hear that James might have come to Dave with his hat in hand is kinda shocking in a way. Naturally, if you’re approached like this you should feel like you’ve got the upper hand in any negotiations, right? Turns out that wasn’t the case according to Mustaine.
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,” Dave continued. “And somehow, on the record [Kill ‘Em All] it says Lars gets 10%. And on ‘Metal Militia’ that Kirk [Hammett] 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.
So yeah, up until this point it’s pretty standard Dave Mustaine reliving his past and not wanting to budge when it comes to publishing rights. Which again, is completely within his rights if what he says about who wrote what is true. The fact that Kirk gets some money from those songs when he wasn’t even in the band when the songs were written though just reeks of bullshit, though.
And while all that previous stuff is pretty much well-tread ground, Mustaine went a little further this time. Not only does he praise Hetfield for his writing capabilities, but he absolutely demolishes Lars as a musician in two or three sentences.
“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 ‘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.”
Fucking. Oof. Listen, we all know Metallica would have been far better off if they had someone like Dave Lombardo behind the kit, but Lars is the business backbone of that metal behemoth. And as such, you’re going to be stuck with simple rhythms and tired drum fills until they finally call it quits.
But still, Dave. You didn’t have to go so hard on the little Dane like that. Savage.