“The shows were out of control because hardly anyone knew what moshing was." Dave Mustaine on the chaos of early thrash metal concerts

Dave Mustaine
(Image credit: Jeremy Saffer)

Dave Mustaine knows a thing or two about thrash: the man was there for the beloved metal subgenre's ground zero as an early member of Metallica, before leaving the band under infamously acrimonious circumstances and forming his own band that'd go onto similar levels of greatness: Megadeth.

In a new interview with Metal Hammer celebrating 40 years since the formation of Megadeth, Mustaine reveals that his band's earliest shows were completely chaotic - not least because most of the 'etiquettes' that we know and love around metal concerts today were yet to be properly polished.

“The shows were out of control because hardly anyone knew what moshing was,” says the guitarist and frontman. “They weren’t familiar with crowdsurfing. Kids would just jump up on the stage and there was no stagediving protocol. Some of them would run over to you and grab your mic stand to get some picks off. They’d bang into your guitar or try to scream into the mic. Then someone would shove them off the stage. It was pure balls-to-the-wall metal insanity.”

Things were similarly explosive off-stage for the band at that time, with its members effectively living in poverty and some of Mustaines bandmates at the time nursing growing drug habits.

“They’d sell a whole bunch of gear to buy drugs,” Mustaine explains today. “We’d have to drive around town to all the pawn shops and instrument shops looking for all the drum pieces, or other pieces of equipment.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mustaine marvels at he and his bandmates' ability to not only survive those turbulent early days, but go on to become one of the most important and acclaimed acts in heavy metal history.

“We went through everything, man, from what happened on the road, to homelessness, to starvation,” he says in bewilderment. “The panhandling, the sleeping on people’s floors. The destitution, the desperation and poverty. We survived it all.”

Read more from Mustaine in the latest issue of Metal Hammer, out now.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.