Though their label, Capitol, had had “Seven presidents in the short time we’d been on there”, Dave says this didn’t actually cause undue concern. If anything, it meant you didn’t have someone coming to the studio and sticking their nose in. Nobody came to the studio at all, actually. No, the problem that would cause a migraine was thanks to Axl Rose, who gave producer Mike Clink the nod halfway through that Guns N’ Roses were ready to make Use Your Illusion (“That was really cheeky,” is Dave’s assessment). So off he went. Although Dave already had him in the crosshairs anyway.
“What didn’t come out in the book was: he had this dog, he brought this puppy over to the studio. It knocked my guitar over, and it started chewing on the wall fabric,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Fuck, Mike – your dog’s gone.’ And then Mike came in and said, ‘Hey Axl called – I have to go,’ and I thought, ‘Good, you’re both gone – you and your fucking dog.’”
The finished album, dog or not, is a masterpiece. And one notable thing is that, through its finely-tuned sharpness, there is a sense of tension, as if the energy in these songs is being generated through the sheer force of bad vibes. Dave downplays this, saying, “I think [the tension] is a product of the times, what was going on in the background, like the Cold War,” but, in truth, the kind of fast, tight magnetism you hear on Hangar 18 or Take No Prisoners wouldn’t quite be there had everything been peachy. There is a hangover anger to these songs, a bristling sense of pushing forward and outstripping yourself out of stubbornness. But that’s what makes it so thrilling, and why it sold millions, and planted itself in history as one of the most important and brilliant metal albums ever made.
“Success was definitely a surprise,” notes Dave. “But I’m proud of that album and I’m grateful I got to make what we did together. It could be hard, but looking back at all this stuff, there were some great times. And it was one of the most amazing accomplishments we made as Megadeth.”
Write that down. It’s a story worth reading.
Rust In Peace – The Inside Story Of The Megadeth Masterpiece is published October 1 by Hachette Books.
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