Thrash metal pioneers Megadeth are back with their thirteenth studio album, titled (ahem) TH1RT3EN, scheduled for release on November 1, 2011. Drummer Shawn Drover chatted to us about the new album, the subsequent world tour and the band’s future releases.
MusicReview: It’s been stated that TH1RT3EN consists of new compositions and older material, which Dave [Mustaine] had written earlier in his career. My question is this: how do you guys know, or decide, when it’s time to revisit the older material?
Shawn Drover: What happened with this [was] we were talking about ideas for the new record and stuff, and Dave [Mustaine] brought up the idea of “What do you think about us doing ‘Millennium of the Blind’ and ‘New World Order’?”; they were recorded as demos years ago and were released on the Youthanasia remaster, I believe, just as a couple of bonus songs that were laying around in the vault somewhere. I really had to back for it, because I think the songs kick ass and were never really recorded properly. I thought if we go in there and re-record the songs and make them sound killer and all that stuff, a lot of fans will dig it, because – obviously they’re fans of our songs – but they’re really good songs as well. And I thought it was a unique idea for us to do something like that, [as] it’s not something we’ve really done a whole lot, to be honest. At the end of the day, those songs kick ass; that’s the long and short of it; we’d never try re-record a couple of songs that suck, you know what I mean? I thought it would be cool thing for the fans and they’re just great songs as well. I really had to back for it, after the initial idea was brought forward by Dave.
MusicReview: Another thing I read in a recent interview with another member of Megadeth [Dave Ellefson] was that you really pushed for the song ‘New World Order’ to be included on TH1RT3EN. Why specifically that song? Is there something that you feel so strongly about that track that you needed it to be on the new album?
Shawn Drover: The long and short of it is I think it’s a great song. I thought it would really fit the structure of the new record. The way it was shaping up, and as the songs were being recorded, I just thought more and more, as time was going on, and I just kept saying let’s go with Dave’s initial idea here and record these songs and hear how they sound. Obviously we had to record them and get them finalised, and we had to think [to ourselves]: these songs are 20 years old now, and do they actually fit the record? To me, the answer is yes. That song [‘New World Order’], to me, is a really, good driving song, and, in my opinion, really should be included in the record – and thank God, it is.
MusicReview: Do you think there’s one specific song on the new album that is really going to surprise Megadeth fans? Something that you haven’t done before?
Shawn Drover: I don’t think so. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here [in our music]. I think we recorded another batch of metal tunes, knowing what our fans and ourselves ultimately want to hear. There’s a mix on the record: there’s fast tunes, there’s some slower tunes, there’s mid [tempo] tunes. It’s a good collection of heavy metal songs. That’s really it. We never really go into studio with any preconceived notions of what we’re trying to do; we just know we got to write a bunch of new metal songs, or, in this case, [rework] a couple of old metal songs [which] were included on the record. I don’t think there’s anything on there really that is that musically different that fans are going to go, “Oh my God, why they’d record that kind of music?” At the end of the day, they’re all metal songs.
MusicReview: On that same topic, from a drummer’s perspective, is there anything that you did differently to push yourself on this new release, or did you try keep it simple, and, like you said, just creating a heavy metal record?
Shawn Drover: Yeah, I didn’t do any playing that was exactly outside of the box, because that doesn’t fit into the musical structure of Megadeth – to go off and do some kind of weird, jazz thing…you know what I mean? I always play for the song, whatever the song calls for. If it calls for a lot of double-bass drumming, that’s fine. If it calls for something that’s real, straight-ahead towards the floor, that’s fine, too. I always try to service the song. I don’t really play for myself, as much as I try play for the band. I’m just saying that it’s a team effort; nobody goes off and does their own thing. Whether it’s just a song or not, we all play a part in ultimately servicing the song; I think that’s one of the reasons why a lot of these songs stand the test of time, instead of being so self-indulgent where all you’re trying to do is please yourself; I think ultimately who we’re trying to please is as many people as possible.
MusicReview: This is your final album on your current label, and, reportedly, Dave [Mustaine] has mentioned that Megadeth will likely be releasing albums independently in the future. Have you guys sat down and discussed the next step, and secondly, can fans expect new music sooner rather than later now that labels are out of the picture?
Shawn Drover: No, we haven’t sat down at all about that. We’re in the “now” right now. We’re focused on this record coming out on the 1 November, and the subsequent world tour that we’re going to do way into 2012 – and God knows how long we’re gonna be on tour for this record –we usually go out for about a year-and-a-half for any record we do, so we haven’t really sat down and thought about anything beyond this tour that’s coming up. Obviously that conversation will come up [about] what avenue we’re going to take – I honestly have no idea what we’re going to do. But that’ll happen down the road. We’ll ultimately have the conversation of what direction we want to go…[if it’s] going solo with new music, with the way the whole record industry is on its ear right now, anyway…Who knows what can happen 2 years from now? Maybe some kind of new format will come out, or they’ll resolve this whole crazy issue of definitive piracy, which is continuing to [cripple the industry]. The problem is that too many people are stealing the music that it’s affected every facet of the industry: recording budget, touring budget, bands getting dropped because they’ve only sold x amounts of records…[the next 3 seconds of the conversation is inaudible due to a bad line]. With that said, some bands are taking it upon themselves to release it on their own. Whether we’ll do that or not, I have no idea, to be honest with you. We’re not that far along on that conversation. We’re just focused on what we’re doing right now, which is getting ready to go on tour and release this new record. That whole topic will come up when the time is right, and we’ll deal with it accordingly.
MusicReview: Dave [Mustaine] recently announced the return of Gigantour in 2012, which is something the band must be looking forward to, and you’ve also mentioned a world tour. Can you perhaps about some countries that Megadeth are looking at visiting?
Shawn Drover: For me, it’s always fun to go somewhere new. We’ve never been down to South Africa, have we?
MusicReview: No. I can’t recall Megadeth ever playing in South Africa. It’s been something that a lot of fans have wanted to see for a long time.
Shawn Drover: Right. I always like going to new places. We went to so many different countries last year that we’ve never been to before – and it’s always cool that we get to go to places we’ve never been and ultimately find out we have huge fan bases in some of these places (laughs). We went to Costa Rica for the first time in 2010, and we really had no idea how big our fan base was there. We played at a place in the middle of nowhere, at a racetrack, and we had 16 000 fans there, so it was a fantastic experience. With that said, obviously it would be great to come down and see where you guys are at, but that’s something I have no control over. That’s part of the business aspect of it with promoters down in South Africa and that whole kind of thing – that’s something I’m not even involved in. Ultimately, I think that would be a great thing if we could go down there, but we’ll just have to see what happens. But that’s always the fun thing for me just to explore and go to different, new countries we haven’t been to before. Hopefully that’ll happen with you guys as well.
MusicReview: We hope so, too. Thank you very much for your time, Shawn.
Shawn Drover: Thanks, man. Appreciate it.
- Sergio Pereira