I've been sitting here at my computer trying to think of a cool intro about Megadeth co
ming to Korea, but I can't think of one so I'll just tell you. Megadeth came to Korea last week. Their concert was on March 1st. What can I say about Megadeth that hasn't already been said?
Growing up in the late 70's and 80's, I was never a big fan of MTV's "Headbanger's Ball". I liked watching "Remote Control" better and seeing the music video "Video Killed the Radio Star" by Mr. Buggles over and over again. For those of you who did not grow up in America, let me explain to you what the "Headbanger's Ball" was. It was a 2-hour music video show on MTV of just heavy metal bands like "Dokken", "Ratt", "Poison", "Iron Maiden", and "Megadeth". I didn't smoke when I was 10 and the first time I saw "Kiss" I cried, so heavy metal never grew on me. Once in awhile some heavy metal band would release a nice ballad that I liked, but for the most part, my childhood was spent trying to solve the world's problems like, who stole 'Kitty Carryall'? It couldn't have been Bobby because he wouldn't do that to Cindy, AND somebody stole Bobby's kazoo also!!!! Sure enough, it was good ole' Tiger! Yeah, my life was sheltered. For those of you playing along at home, that was an excerpt from The Brady Bunch. To play again, insert coin!
Anyway, Megadeth was coming to Seoul and I was promised an interview with them. A few of my friends liked Megadeth, so I borrowed some CD's and immersed myself in Megadeth's music. After hours of listening pleasure I came to the conclusion that I still didn't like heavy metal music! You can't really dance to it and it wouldn't sound too good in a Karaoke bar either. Now, before all you Megadeth fans come and Megadeth me in the head, let me just say I like their latest album 'Risk' a lot better than their prior albums. I'm just not a heavy metal fan. If I ever wrote a song, that line would be my chorus, "I'm just not a heavy metal fan".
I am not a professional reporter, but before I go into an interview I do my research! I look for basic stuff like where the band's from, what their hobbies are, and research old 'Rolling Stones' magazines. I was now Megadeth's ultimate fan! I morphed myself from a small Asian boy into a leather wearing, hair flowing, body piercing, head banging, Dave Mustaine loving, Megadeth fan!!!!! MEGADETH RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually, I met Megadeth's production crew the night before along with their newest member, guitarist Al Pitrelli. Al was a good guy and whenever he past by me he winked at me. I don't think he was flirting with me, but it made me feel good anyway. A few hours before their concert they had a couple interviews to give and I was waiting on deck behind MNet (For those of you who are baseball illiterate, waiting on deck is a baseball term meaning I am the next batter). MNet is just like MTV but mainly focuses on Korean music. I know this might sound odd to some of you, but I'd like to make a side comment. MNet should hire people that have some ability to understand English, because the VJ interviewing Megadeth had NO idea what they were saying. Megadeth kept making references to some of their old albums and how they come up with their songs. The VJ looked like a deer in the headlights. Her eyes had a glassy film on them and she had no emotion. The band knew she didn't understand what they were saying, so they started to make things up. It was pretty funny. I was the only one in the room laughing besides the band. The Koreans standing around were looking at me like I was an idiot or something.
Now, let me introduce the band to you before I go any further. First there's the lead singer Dave Mustaine. He was one of the original members in Metallica, before he was fired and then he started up Megadeth. I've heard he isn't one of the friendliest guys in the world, and I wanted to ask him a few questions about Metallica. Megadeth has had quite a few band member changes, so I had a couple of juicy questions that I wanted to ask, but I didn't want a guitar smashed into my face because that would probably leave a mark. Next there's the bassist David Ellefson. He's an original member of Megadeth. Next there's drummer Jimmy DeGrasso. He replaced Nick Menza in 1998. Al Pitrelli just joined the band a few months ago after Marty Friedman suddenly jumped ship.
MNet FINALLY finished their horrible interview and now I was up at bat. Before I could even take a swing Megadeth's manager took me out of the game. Megadeth's manager's name is Steven. He said I wasn't on the list of interviews, so I couldn't get one and that was that. You could say I was not happy! I had to leave the interview room and some old American guy named Fred walked in. He was from a local English language newspaper.. He looked like he just stepped out of his grave. Did I miss the funeral?
Now, I have never been book smart, but I have always been street smart. I left my bag in the interview room on purpose so that I could go back in there. I snuck back in like the Viet Cong and luckily Steven was not there. Good ole' Fred had some of the stupidest questions up his sleeve. He knew nothing about Megadeth! He looked like a huge fan of Peter, Paul, and Mary. I was convinced he was going to stand up and start singing, "Puff the Magic Dragon"! I was wrong though. Fred did not honor us with his rendition of the Puffer to my dismay. Fred asked a plethora of weird questions, but the one that I really enjoyed was, "How have you guys stayed together for so long?" (Like I said earlier, Megadeth has gone through a lot of band member changes and they just lost their guitarist Marty Friedman a few months ago). I thought Dave was going to throw his chair at him! Dave just looked at him and said, "What??" I admire Fred because he didn't pick up on any clues that his question was way off mark. (If I were going into battle, I would definitely leave Fred at home). Fred said again, "You guys have been playing together for so long, how have you done it?" This was it! I thought for sure Fred was a goner! I would be proud to award Fred the Purple Heart for his valor and courage in the line of duty. Luckily for Fred, Dave and his band members just laughed and said, "What are you talking about? Al Pitrelli just joined us a few months ago and Jimmy DeGrasso joined the band in 1998." I have to give Fred credit because he didn't even flinch! He was a true marine. He just took it in stride and then asked everybody to pronounce and spell their names out for him. The battle was coming to a close for Fred and he didn't even know if he had won or lost. The band said they had enough questions and thanked Fred for his time.
Jimmy DeGrasso started reading a book and the rest of them began signing a pile of posters for their fans. I sat down next to Jimmy and brought up some small talk about his hometown Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was really surprised I knew where Bethlehem was. Used to be the steel capital of America. (Everybody pick up your #2 pencils and take notes. Watch and learn as I work the room. Watch and learn). Dave Mustaine looked up at me and said, "Who are you?" I quickly filled him in on who I was and why I was there. I asked if he could answer some questions for me and he said, "Go ahead and ask."
J: Your latest album 'Risk' is a lot different from your earlier albums why?
M: This album has a lot of melodic sounds on it. We worked really hard on it and we took a big risk releasing it. We gained many new fans with this newer sound.
J: So the album's name isn't just a play on words. (I guess our sense of humor is a little different, because there was no laughter in the room at this time.)
J: You've been playing for over 20 years now. How can you explain your longevity?
M: Music is an art. If you focus on one music style then you become a specialist. We have always tried NOT to specialize and to always be open to new styles. That's where 'Risk' came from.
J: I saw the music video of the song 'Breadline' the other day. What were you trying to convey?
M: Just that life sometimes is unlucky. There's a huge homeless problem in the States and not all homeless people are lazy. Many were successful people who had some kind of bad luck happen to them. Like losing their job all of a sudden or someone in the family getting really sick.
J: Where do you see heavy metal music going in the future?
M: Right now we're in a down period, but I think heavy metal music is coming back. It'll just take some time.
J: Dave, when did you get involved with The Arizona Boys and Girls Club? (The Boys and Girls Club's of America are for children between the ages of 6 to 18. It's a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged children.) www.bgca.org for more info
M: A few years back, one kid was a big fan of Megadeth and he wanted to meet me so I showed up at this party and it turned out the kid was really cool and ever since then I've tried to help out when I can, but the National office wouldn't let Megadeth donate anything to the organization. Apparently we're not good role models. I was a little disappointed by that! I mean, they accept a bat from Darryl Strawberry, but nothing from us?
J: Yeah, Darryl Strawberry is a good role model when he's not sniffing cocaine. I'll just move right along. Do you still play with the same energy when the concert isn't sold out?
M: Sure! It would be great if we could still sell out, but most heavy metal groups can't do that nowadays.
J: Where are you going next?
J: The Japanese are crazy for heavy metal.
M: Yeah, they really love us over there. We'll sell out in Tokyo. Japan is still a little primitive when it comes to heavy metal music.
J: Did you really want to come back to Korea? You were here a few years ago and you didn't sell out then and ticket sales for this concert weren't too good either.
M: It's a real honor to play for our Korean fans. The fans here are really passionate about their music, and even if it doesn't sell out it's still a great atmosphere.
J: By the way, what happened to Marty Friedman? Were you guys really surprised when he quit?
M: Yeah, that came out of the blue! Nobody had any idea that he wanted out.
J: So I guess I'll see him playing for Brittany Spears next, right?
M: Actually, you might be right. He likes Brittany Spears and he wanted to go more into pop music.
J: You're joking right?
M: No seriously. Our Japanese fans will really miss him because he speaks fluent Japanese. His wife is Japanese.
J: I was unaware of that. So when can we expect another album? This is when my buddy Steve, Megadeth's manager walked in and gave me a really surprised look. He also had that glassy film on his eyes. I felt like I was in an X Files episode. Mulder!! Get over here now! Anyway, he wasn't too happy that I was asking the band questions and he promptly said that my time was up.
Fortunately, I bonded with the band and I asked if it would be ok if I got a quick picture. They said sure and Dave asked my buddy Steve to take the picture. I know he was hating that! If Megadeth ever takes a break I should introduce Steve to Yngwie Malmsteen. They would get along great! Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to ask Dave about Metallica, but the band was really cool and mellow. They were just sitting around signing posters and chatting with me. It was a jolly time for everyone, and Megadeth RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For more info on Megadeth go to their website: www.megadeth.com
Check out more of Johnny's entertainment interviews!
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