Dave Mustaine: "When I was in Metallica, I was kind of playing at Lars’s level, because Lars was still learning to play drums."

Dave Mustaine and Lars Ulrich goofing around at Donington in 1988
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the year that thrash metal heroes Megadeth officially formed, and frontman/living metal legend Dave Mustaine looks back on his wild and storied career with the band in a special celebration in the latest issue of Metal Hammer. Discussing his attempts to put a new band together in the aftermath of his infamous firing from Metallica, Mustaine notes that he wasn't initially enamoured with the idea of fronting Megadeth himself, having auditioned numerous other singers for the role beforehand.

“I was reluctant right up to the last minute,” he says. “And then I finally said, ‘OK, fuck it, I can’t be worse than some of these other dudes.’”

Interestingly, Mustaine draws parallels between his experiences trying to find a singer and James Hetfield ultimately solidifying his position as Metallica's rhythm guitarist, claiming that, like himself, Hetfield mainly ended up playing guitar because Metallica couldn't find anyone else up to the task.

“When I was in Metallica, I was kind of playing at Lars [Ulrich]’s level, because Lars was still learning to play drums back then,” he tells Hammer. “But watching James play guitar for the first time was kind of shocking, because I didn’t know he knew how to play guitar. We just got fed up one day of auditioning guitar players, just like I did with singers. And he picked up this guitar and started playing, and inside I’m going, ‘Get the fuck out of here. How can you possibly be satisfied being a singer when you play like that? Why not be both?’ I’ve always thought he was a really talented guitarist.”

Mustaine's efforts to bring Megadeth together would prove worthwhile, with over four decades with the band now behind him and no signs of things slowing down any time soon. Last year, Megadeth released their sixteenth studio album, The Sick, The Dying...And The Dead! to critical acclaim. The record was Megadeth's first following Mustaine's battle with throat cancer.

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.