Last updated: 04/05/2003 04:02:38 AM
taken from Metal Hammer, July 1996
by Katherine Turman
Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine and LA punk legend Lee Ving have teamed up for a one-off project called MD.45. Katherine Turman tracks him down to find out about 'The Craving' and what's happening with his own band Megadeth.
"A leopard can't change its spots," states Dave Mustaine. "There's two things you're going to know about me till the day I die: One, I am fucking heavy metal, and two, yeah, I do have a drinking problem." Despite such bold statements - albeit tempered with a chuckle - Mustaine is not his usual, animated, caustic self. "I've been jawing for hours," confesses Dave somewhat tiredly. But he brightens up as he waxes enthusiastically about his latest endeavor, a non-Megadeth related outing known as MD.45. First off it's not metal, and Mustaine isn't presently drinking. Rather, he's flexed his musical muscle towards a slightly punkier, but still very aggressive and heavy direction with MD.45
The frontman briefly wandered from the Mega-fold in late 1995 to record with Fear singer Lee Ving, former Electric Love Hogs bassist Kelly LeMieux and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso (Alice Cooper, Suicidal Tendencies). While some of the music was written with Megadeth, MD.45 is a different beast all together. Although Mustaine produces MD.45's 11-song debut disc, The Craving, and wrote about half of the record, he does not sing on it, which he sees as one of the major differences between a solo project and a side project. MD.45 is the latter. Decidedly not self-indulgent, the band and CD is a cool combo of Mustaine's muscular metal riffs and Ving's evil humor and gruff, years-in-the-trenches punkish voice, not to mention the funky playing of LeMieux and aggressive chops from DeGrasso. In short, good songs, good playing and good fun.
"I tried to make a record that would be cool," Mustaine says simply. "I don't think anybody really believes that I have a hidden agenda, like trying to make myself look like the coolest guy in Megadeth. I just like to have fun. But it's not at the other people's expense any more."
Thought it was fun working on the outside project, it was something that dragged on before coming to fruition, first brewing several years ago under the moniker Beverly Killbillies, which was canned when Warrant frontman Jani Lane was working on something with a similar title. After agonizing about a name - many of his cool choices were already taken - Mustaine eventually came upon MD.45, a mix of numerals and a name play on the main members initials.
Since MD.45 took so long to gel - finding the rhythm section proved tough as well - during the inception process, Mustaine had time to suffer some trepidation about the whole affair. And he even encountered what you might call divine intervention. "The weirdest thing was, at the end of the South-American tour, I was sleeping, and I heard voices saying, 'Don't do it, it will be the biggest mistake of your life'. I don't hear voices, ever. This is the first time in my life I ever had a sign like this. I thought, 'Whoa, this is a different twist'."
But it takes more than voices from beyond to dissuade Mustaine. "Hey, I didn't know who it was; God or the Devil... or Marty or Dave!", he chuckles. The red-maned frontman had been a Fear fan since the mid-'80s, when he caught the seminal LA-bred punk band in the now defunct Club Lingerie in Hollywood. "Ving said from the stage, 'Ah, you spit as good as your mother sucks!' I though, cool, he sure is like me!"
The two singers were connected - though they never actually met - via "The Decline of Western Civilization," Fear were in the first movie, Megadeth in the second, "The Metal Years". Then more synchronicity came from the film Dudes - Ving was an actor in the flick, while Megadeth were on the movie's soundtrack. A decade later found the two diverse musicians at Vintage Recorders in Phoenix, Arizona, Mustaine's new-ish hometown.
Ving lives in Austin, Texas, so by dint of geography, initial work on the MD.45 record was done via tapes through the mail. And while he's now touring with the current line-up of Fear, Ving "welcomed the collaboration as a challenge and a great diversion. I knew Dave has a strong, professional approach to what he does, and whatever he would do would be a good offering."
The song on The Craving (the title refers to Mustaine's ongoing battle with addiction, but isn't a song on the LP) were constructed several ways. "Fight Hate" has Ving lyrics and Mustaine music, while several songs - "The Creed," "Designer Behavior" and "Day the Music Died" - were entirely penned by the Megadeth singer. "Fight Hate" is an in-your-face attack, while "The Creed," a mid-tempo outing with a spoken word part, is equally as compelling. And while the project was fun for all concerned, The Craving has a seriously strong vibe and an aggressive, different musical feel. A great pairing in terms of power and aggression would be Fear Factory and MD.45, although MD.45 haven't played live yet, but eventually will, says Dave Mustaine, if the demand is there. Surprisingly, much of the music was born during Megadeth soundchecks over the last several years. "I would track down bits and pieces, and yell out to our soundman 'K' for KillBillies and 'M' for Megadeth," explains the guitarist.
Both Ving and Mustaine have reputations as bold, maybe even slightly eccentric personalities, and acknowledges Mustaine, the dynamic duo weren't always headed down the same musical path. "Lee has his ideas, I had my ideas, and we butted heads a little. But we sat down and it worked it out, and ended up guffawing about this new 'punk' movement, and how they're trying to capitalize on what punk is about," explains Mustaine. His original goal for this project was "something that's like the New Wave of British Heavy Metal crossed with a punk singer, and whatever influences the two of us have melted into one. But I told Lee that in no way, shape or form is this going to be a punk record. This is a side project. I've loved his voice in Fear for years and wanted to work with him. Lee brought a persona into this project. Charisma. And we became good friends in the process."
And made a great record. But Mustaine is rather pessimistic about The Craving's sales potential, not because he thinks the record isn't good, but rather... "I think the record company is pretty much just sticking their toes in the water. I think kids are either going to enjoy it and go in all the way, or going to be very turned off. Right now, I believe the company though the record isn't going to sell very much, but they wanted to patronize me as an artist. I would truly like to be corrected."
He should be - and hopefully, will be.