What emotions were you feeling when going through the Megadeth catalogue?
“It was a really proud moment going back through my catalogue, because some of these songs I haven’t heard for quite a while. There were records that have great memories and records that are really powerful, emotional challenges – like the early records. Listening to the stuff that Nick [Menza, Megadeth drummer who passed away in 2016] did is really powerful and really emotional, because I miss him. You never know when they’re gonna go. Gar [Samuelson, Megadeth drummer who passed away in 1999] was older than me, but Nick wasn’t. That was really hard. But the other emotion I was feeling was that I’m really fucking lucky, because most bands don’t have 35 good songs (laughs).”
Are you the kind of guy who gets nostalgic for the old days?
“I do get nostalgic! I wax nostalgic all the time. There’s all this crazy talk on the internet about [Serbian-American inventor] Nikola Tesla being a time-traveller, which I find fascinating. I don’t believe it – but boy if I did, I’d be the first in line to just watch what we did! We changed the world. You can’t even watch a commercial anymore without hearing somebody palm-muting a guitar, and they weren’t doing that before we were doing it.”
Were there songs you included that you felt had to be in there?
“[1985’s] Mechanix is a good one to be on there because of the dispute that’s ongoing between me and my old comrades. [1990’s] Holy Wars… The Punishment Due has to be on there because of the whole faux pas with [Irish republicanism] ‘the cause’ over in Antrim [Forum, Northern Ireland]. I’d gone to see the audience outside like I always do, say hello to the fans, and there’s this little kid there and he spits at me and goes, ‘Fuck you, Dave Mustaine!’ I went back inside and I didn’t know if that was cool or not. In punk they do that all the time, so I didn’t take it as a diss. Over the radio I hear somebody is bootlegging T-shirts inside the venue, and I said go get them, and they said, ‘You can’t take the T-shirts because it’s for the cause.’ I asked, ‘What’s the cause?’ and the guy goes ‘It’s against religious prejudice. It’s the Catholics and the Protestants.’ I’d been brought up a Jehovah’s Witness so I don’t know anything about Protestants or Catholics, and I thought everybody should do what they want. So I got up onstage, I’d been drinking, I went up to the mic so innocent, like, ‘This one’s for the cause, give Ireland back to the Irish.’ What the fuck did I know? That’s why in Holy Wars I say, ‘Fools like me across the sea / Ask the sheep for their beliefs.’ I should have asked somebody else and kept my nose out of it. I learned a lesson and got a great song out of it. That had to be on the record, because it’s one of the most controversial songs we have. It’s so timely, too. When you write songs you want them to be timeless, but timeless and timely are two very different things, and to accomplish both with a song is great.”