Dave Mustaine says that he made a “mistake” releasing “Risk” under the MEGADETH name, explaining that it would have been received far better if it had been made available as his solo album.
Issued in 1999, “Risk” received a mixed response from critics and alienated hardcore MEGADETH fans due to its departure from the band’s heavy thrash metal roots to a more commercial, pop rock sound. The album debuted at No. 16 on the Billboard chart and was later certified gold for selling half a million copies in the United States.
In a recent interview with uDiscover about the birth of thrash metal, Mustaine admitted that MEGADETH had a few directional missteps over the course of its three-decade-plus career and pointed to the mid-to-late 1990s as a particularly turbulent period in the band’s history.
“We did write some songs with [a] much larger scope in mind, obviously,” he said (hear audio below). “I think if you look at the record ‘Youthanasia’ , for example, there was an accompanying DVD that we put out with that record called ‘Evolver’, and during ‘Evolver’, there was a scene in there — if you have seen that, you may recall — [producer] Max Norman is holding a metronome and he’s counting out beats per minute.”
He continued: “This is what happens when you have a production team and somebody has control over the time and different stuff like that that goes along with creating the songs. Because the BPM [beats per minute] for that record… He had said the key to hit songs is everything being in the 120 BPM range. So it wouldn’t surprise me if you got a metronome and went and listened to ‘Youthanasia’ how many songs you would find are in that 120 BPM range. And that’s one of the reasons why, when I went back and remixed those and remastered those records, we reset some of those songs back to their original temps, which a lot of them were a little faster. ‘Cause the songs felt better, but when you slowed them down, sure, they got a certain heaviness to them, which was awesome, but there was also that speed complex that you have to add into the equation if it’s MEGADETH music. Thus the backlash with ‘Risk’, because people expected that speed and thrashy kind of stuff. If that record would have been called the ‘Dave Mustaine Project‘, people would have loved it. But because it said MEGADETH, they expected MEGADETH. And that was my mistake; I should have called it a solo record. But I had the band guys on there, which would have been totally disrespectful to do that.”
Mustaine‘s latest comments echo those he made to Full Metal Jackie last month when he said that writing MEGADETH‘s latest album, “Dystopia”, was “really invigorating” since he didn’t “care anymore about trying to write stuff for radio because it just backfires.” He added: “Whenever you try and do something for somebody, it usually doesn’t work, it ends up being something that’s hit-or-miss. At this stage in my life, I don’t wanna be taking any chances. I wanna have fun, I wanna write music that I love listening to, and I think that’s what we did with ‘Dystopia’.”
MEGADETH will open for German hard rock veterans SCORPIONS on a month-long North American tour this fall.
On February 12, MEGADETH was honored with a Grammy in the “Best Metal Performance” category for “Dystopia”.
MEGADETH recently completed a month-long U.S. tour with AMON AMARTH, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, METAL CHURCH and BUTCHER BABIES.