Dave Mustaine Gets Philosophical, Says Metallica and Mötley Crüe Were Actually “Similar”
As fans of heavy metal, we’ve all had to wrestle with the myriad of subgenres that tend to crop up over time. Do I like cybergrind? What about melodic blackened death metal? Is this band stoner doom? It’s all important and not important at the same time.
Yet back in the 80s when the Bay Area thrash bands were ripping shit up, there was a time when wearing the wrong thing at a show would get you ridiculed or beaten up. Show up to a thrash show wearing a Poison shirt while donning makeup and you might be limping out of the venue, for example. That anti-glam sentiment was harbored by the artists themselves, with Megadeth‘s Dave Mustaine famously calling glam metal “gay L.A. music.”
Well, during a recent interview with Heavy Consequence, it seems Mustaine’s walked back his stance on glam and hair metal a bit. But only after getting a little in the weeds about genres and what they mean.
“The whole thing with glam and thrash at the time, metal had so many different factions and splinters that had taken place in the very beginning. We were all heavy metal. And then, you started hearing people called the power metal trio, and then there was, ‘Well, heavy metal’s not good enough because you’re thrash metal.’ ‘What’s thrash metal? I’m fucking playing all over the place. OK. We’re not thrash, we’re speed metal.’ ‘What the fuck is speed metal?’ ‘We’re faster than thrash.’ ‘OK. Well, we ain’t thrash or speed…we’re black metal!’ ‘Well, what the fuck is black metal?’ ‘Well, we talk about the dark side.’ ‘OK. Well, we ain’t black. We’re white metal!’ ‘Well, what the fuck is white metal?’ ‘Well we talk about the light.’ ‘OK. So, what about, uh…death metal? What about all the other types of metal? Outlaw metal, grind metal, punk metal?’
“Y’know, it’s like metal has become a qualifying word just to signify a certain heaviness of music regardless of what original genre it is they come from. And I think if you can have people say bands like Blink-182 is like alternative metal. Or you see bands like Green Day, alternative metal. Pearl Jam, alternative metal. But are they? They’re pop bands. And what does pop mean? Is that a bad word? Well, some people think so. But what does it really mean? Well, pop is short for ‘popular.’ So if Megadeth had a really successful record with the population, it would be a popular record – like Countdown to Extinction was. Countdown is a triple platinum record and we’re probably going to be seeing some certification for that in the near future. And that was a popular album, which would make it a ‘pop album.’ Do you get what I’m saying? How weird all these terms are.”
Elaborating on this particular line of thought, Mustaine then went to compare the band that’s most important to his personal life Megad — I mean, Metallica. Looking back to his old band’s early days (you know, the only time he was actually in the band), he took what they were doing and compared it to what Mötley Crüe was doing around the same time.
“So, what do I think between glam and between heavy metal? Let’s boil it down to its least common denominator. Let’s look at the first two albums by Mötley Crüe and Metallica. You can’t really say that the first Mötley Crüe record [Too Fast for Love] didn’t have some metal tracks on it – because ‘Take Me to the Top’ or ‘Live Wire’ had the same kind of real fast right hand picking like James [Hetfield] and I were doing. And when Vince [Neil] was first singing and James was first singing, their voice was very similar in the registry where it was at. They both sang really high.
“But I think that if you would have taken those two songs and had Metallica record them, they would have been heavy as fuck. Probably would have stayed pretty similar because we were doing a lot of copy songs. And so, when you take a band that is dressing up, wearing high heels, wearing leather, wearing makeup, using hairspray, belts and chains and big hoop earrings and jewelry and fingernails painted and stuff like that, and start getting way into mascara, lipstick, foundation, all that kinda shit, that’s somebody’s impression of what a rock star is supposed to look like. I promise you, if you go up to a guy who’s dressed up like that, who has that kind of an image, and, and you say, ‘What is this image that you’re going for? What would it be described as?’ They would say they’re a rock star. And I think if you go to a little kid and you said, ‘What is this?’ They would say, ‘You’re a rock star.’ Not that ‘You’re glam.’”
So does that make Metallica and Megadeth’s output “gay S.F. music?” Wait. Is thrash metal secretly gay? What does it all mean, Dave?! WHO IS PEPE SILVIA?!
You should absolutely check out the rest of Heavy Consequence’s interview with Dave Mustaine.