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In Words: Megadeth

- Dave Mustaine - June 2001 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- James LoMenzo - June 2007 - Claudia Ehrhardt -
- James LoMenzo - Feb. 2008 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Megadeth: James LoMenzo - live 2008
Claudia Ehrhardt

James LoMenzo - Feb. 11th 2008 - Dortmund (D), Westfalenhalle

Last summer Megadeth hit the road in Europe, but unfortunately they didn't play my area and so I only had the chance to talk with bassist James LoMenzo on the phone. This time we met in flesh before their show in Dortmund. The band is back on the road for about a week and as they have a new guitarist with them, I took the chance to talk to JLo again!
First I had to explain that my tape recorder just died... James took it easy... "So you're doing it the old-fashioned way - taking notes!" And that's what I did.
The most obvious change between their last European run and this one is that they have a new guitar player in the band... Chris Broderick is the new one. "The best thing about Megadeth is that the band progresses when difficult things happen. It's easy, Glen decided to spend more time with his family and he talked with his brother Shawn about it. They tried to figure out what to do. Glen wanted to leave and Shawn had the idea to bring Chris Broderick in. Chris is an amazing guitarist and very complete. Dave watched some videos of him, the classical stuff caught Dave's eye first. Having Chris in the band feels different, but exciting, too. For me change is always exciting and it's good. With Chris we have a new persona in the band." James stated. And as they have only a few weeks to get prepared for the tour... Did they have enough time to prepare? "The first shows been fine. No train rails. Chris worked really hard and this is a testimony of professionalism. Dave and I helped him to learn all the songs in time. I just been through this and my experience helped him. We both had to start from zero to learn the Megadeth songs. He is jetlagged now and that makes it even harder, but it worked out well." James told me. Last year Megadeth played almost no festivals in Europe, will we see them on festival stages this summer, I wanted to know... "We are torn between playing festivals, our families and working on a new album. We are touring now for about a year and part of us wants to expand... Part of us wants to start writing new stuff. Last year we've been through some changes, we have a new agency and management now. Now we need to make a solid plan. It would be great to play festivals, but we have to get back to our families and can't leave every 2 months, or one day there is no family waiting for us...." he explains and it's obvious that this issue bothers him, even if he's excited to play a festival in India at the end of the European leg. "I never been to India, it's an exciting experience!" But they played last year some Asian shows and did play in Indonesia... Just a day ago news told that at a punk rock concert in Indonesia 10 fans been killed.... "I never thought about... TV news are often exaggerating and so the situation seems worse then it is. Last year we played a show in Israel. Days before the show Israel was on TV news with the flaring conflict and we considered not to go, but our friends told us that it's safe - and it was!" James reflects. "I've been through this before when Dimebag got killed, I didn't tell my family that I'll go on tour again first, but everyone has a destiny. You can't play your life that way, you have to go with faith." Something I agree with, coz otherwise your fears will influence your life and you kinda stop living.... For a musician life is divided between touring, song writing and studio recordings... "We constantly write, but it's too soon to tell which way the next Megadeth album will go. The band morphed again. Chris is in the band and changed Megadeth. It's exciting to see what Chris can bring in." As I always been a fan of Pride & Glory I had to ask James, if there is a chance that he'll work again with Zakk Wylde.... "No! Two times is enough. It was never planned, we just were hanging out a lot in the 80's and sometimes jammed. After the last time with Black Label Society I needed to see a doctor, but I'm fine now." he adds with a smile and I get the impression that he isn't 100% serious about this. And history repeats itself... Even if this comment of mine wasn't targeted on politics, James through in his 2-cent about it. "Thank God, Bush won't get another turn! It can't get worse! Travelling the world I realized that people - especially in Europe - are interested in what's happens in the world. Here people following what's going on in the world." Something he recognized through the years touring the world... "It's nice to see familiar faces and I dig it, when I first became some kind of famous with a band, we tried to build up a community. It's a hard business and it's good to have friends. It's much harder then it used to be when I started. Some of the CDs which come out now are pretty good, but there is no place to really form a band. The companies cannibalized it, they don't give bands the time to grow." James said and it's true. He was lucky to start many years ago and to get attention for his work. He continues "The fascinating thing about Megadeth is that Dave has a good feel about business and to keep in touch with fans. Mostly it's the internet and forums he's using to stay in touch with the fans. It's a mutual exchange, so band and fans benefit from it." And the fans love to have the chance to vote for songs to get them onto the set list. There would be a lot more to talk about, not just about the latest developments and what's next on the Megadeth schedule, but too soon we ran out of time. Perhaps I will have to pleasure to talk again to James, if they came back for some festivals or when they have a new album on the way.... Hopefully we won't have to wait too long for something new, if they decide for song writing instead of festivals.

Claudia Ehrhardt


Megadeth band promotion photo

James LoMenzo - 20th June 2007 - telephone interview

The latest album of Megadeth is called United Abominations and at the moment the Americans are playing some festivals and club shows in Europe. Time to talk with them about the new album, touring and more... Everybody wants to talk to Dave Mustaine and even if it would have been interesting to talk to him, I was happy to talk to bassist James Lomenzo who I met several times while he was in White Lion and Pride & Glory. I wanted to introduce myself, but he remembers me from that days and so we got straight into the interview. "Yesterday we played in Hamburg and the show was fantastic! I didn't recall playing there before." Which I can confirm, coz he never been there with White Lion and Pride & Glory as well as Slash's Snakepit never played Hamburg. "It's an intimate place. It was great to play there. I like the feeling of this kind of places." This time Megadeth play a lot of festivals and Mustaine said in some interviews that they probably won't return for some more club shows... "Well, we talk about club shows later this year. Ego-wise it's great to play big places and festivals, but it's so much fun to play clubs." The biggest surprise for many was that the new Megadeth album hit the charts! In the USA it been #8 in the Billboard 200 and #3 in the Billboard Rock Album charts, but it hit the charts in several countries. "I think I should say that it's no surprise, but to be honest - I had no idea that this could happen. It was really a surprise. It took a lot of time to do this record, then we were ready to go into the studio." They played live some songs and it was a good opportunity to see, if people like the new stuff - and they did. Still the amount of people who are into Megadeth is quite big. Even if The System Has Failed got better critics as The World Needs A Hero they still been criticized. "Criticism always happens..." was everything James said about this. With Glen and Shawn Drover Megadeth got the first infusion of fresh blood and fresh blood is energizing."The Drover brothers are huge fans of Megadeth and great musicians. When I joined I was really happy. It was exciting." And for the fans it was exciting, too. Often new members mean a change, but not so with Megadeth as Dave Mustaine writes the songs. They played Dubai Desert Rock Festival in the United Emirates last year, now a show in Tel Aviv is scheduled... "We want to play there and the promoter tells us to come, but we have to consider it." James states. Latest developments in the Middle East and the Israel-Lebanon conflict flaring up again have to be considered. "It's not just our own safety we have to keep in mind. We can't be foolish." Even if James didn't want to put it that way, he agreed when I said that a big crowd is a big target. And he told me "When I was in Black Label Society we had in Manchester a kind of same situation. We had to consider, if we play or not. There was a group of people beating up the kids. Anyway, we have friends in Palestine and they will keep up updated and we will decided a few days before the show depending on the situation, if we play or if we will cancel the show." Back to United Abominations.... On the album is an old song in a new version... "A Tout Le Monde never got fair play in the US when it came out. The song was special to Dave and its close to his heart still. It's nothing new and I keep thinking about White Lion who did Broken Heart again. We kinda wanted to update the song and thought about a duet. We talked with a few people. Cristina has a great voice and we are happy we got her. It just fit." And with the Lacuna Coil singer they might get some attention from people who aren't into Megadeth, but that's not the reason why they did it. The lyrics always been political and it was Mustaine's view on certain things which made them differ from other bands. "Dave is keenly aware about what's going on in the world. He's watching the news and keeps up with what happens in the world. I'm really proud about the way he's putting it out. And he is not taking sides." In a way he's taking a snapshot of the situation...Political developments, but never comments on it. "Most can't put their thoughts together that way. And he's doing it in a great way. History repeats itself, we have to understand that." That's true, but I guess mankind will never learn from the past... Back to the here and now. Back to the live shows! With so many albums under the belt you have a lot songs to choose from. And there are the new tracks... "The songs fit into the set very well. We are all still fans of the music and we want to make sound like Megadeth." So James and the Drover brothers don't try to change the sound. As James explains "Dave is and always been the main songwriter and so the songs still sound like him. It's in his heart, so they all come from the same place." But Glen Drover was involved in the songwriting of Never Walk Alone... A Call To Arms. "The Drovers are huge fans of Megadeth, they want to make it sound like Megadeth. It fit together, match better then you think!" And they still have a strong fan base which follows them for more then two decades. With Vic Rattlehead they have their own mascot, even if this time he appears in a different way. The cover has a different feel as they worked with a new artist. Can we expect James doing a cover in future as hes a graphic artist... "No, I won't. I can put it together, but I can't paint it. My thing is music, photography and graphic." Today's world is visual and videos are important these days for every band. The first video clip they did for A Tour Le Monde... What comes next? "Washington Next! Well, we are on tour now for 3 months, so we have to see what happens next." So a few things aren't certain now... like some more club shows ..."We got slap the tour together really fast, so we miss some festivals and do some others. We talked about all those things, but it was a bit too late..." James confesses. Looks like we all have to wait and see. I hope they return to Europe for some more shows and to see them soon. I was a pleasure to talk to James Lomenzo again after all those years, even if he couldn't answer questions about the lyrics... But that's okay, hes the new guy in the band and Dave Mustaine is writing all the lyrics. And so there are a few topics left for next time.

Claudia Ehrhardt


Megadeth: Dave Mustaine - live 2001
Claudia Ehrhardt

Dave Mustaine - Cologne (Germany), June, 19th 2001

With The World Needs A Hero Megadeth are back! And they entered the charts "It wasn't a surprise, I hoped that it will happen" Dave told me. "I know that we recorded a strong album."
Their Risk album wasn't that successful. "I knew that Risk was taking a risk and we were going to encounter some rough waters and I'm cool with all that. I'm not a masochist. I didn't do that to bring any repercussions. It was a daunting task. It was exciting for us to think that we could probably get played on alternative radio like Metallica, Soundgarden, Tool and stuff like that because these bands have elements of metal and punk in them. The problem is with the name Megadeth, you can't do that." But they are back on the road with their new line-up. Al Pitrelli jumped in on the last tour to replace Marty Friedman. At that time Al was still a member of Savatage, but took his chance when Dave Mustaine offered him the spot. "Right now Al's finally being recognized for his superior talent as a guitar player. It is clicking musically and personally in the band." Still people see Dave Mustaine not just as the mastermind of Megadeth, due to stuff former members say he got a reputation like a dictator. "I'm the leader of the band and everybody is doing what I'm saying!" he commented this not really serious. "But they were pissed because they had to leave which was of what they have done or not done. Everybody is responsible for what happened to him. I told Al that it's up to him, he can proof that he's the right person for this job or he's firing himself by what he's doing." And Al took his chance! Live the band seems to be more intense and that they really enjoy being on stage. "Marty was in Megadeth for several years. He's an excellent guitarist, but his interest changed and he wasn't into it at least. Al is doing an amazing job and is really excited playing live. The whole band is excited to play live! But I'm not interested in what former members are doing, even if I wish Marty all the best. Al is given fresh blood to Megadeth." During the show it was obvious to everybody! A tight line-up which presented a great show including old and new songs. The album is out for about a month and so the set included just five new songs, but that might chance during their world trip. "We just started and will go to places we haven't been. On our schedule are Russia, Indonesia, Korea, Australia and many more. On our website you can always find the newest tour dates, but at the moment just the first part of the dates is uploaded. So check back frequently to make sure not to miss us!" These days it's unusual that a band is touring without a support, these days we almost got offered packages.... "We prefer to play alone. No support! If we do our shows we play about 100 min. to 110 min. which we can't do at festivals or in a package." And the fans are all there just to see Megadeth... "Exactly" he commented with a smile. But even if you are going to so many different counties, not everybody will have the chance to see the band live... Any video clip we can see on TV... "On our website you can watch a clip for Moto Psycho. In the States VH-1 did Behind the music... Megadeth which was very successful." My objection that not everybody get VH-1 he refused that I should have let him finish. " was so successful that we got the right to use the material for a DVD. The running time was 60 min. including commercials, so it's about 45 / 50 min. without. We plan to add all our video clips and some more. The DVD will finally have 90 to 120 min. of Megadeth!" That sounds really good to me!
Megadeth are back to take the metal world by storm and with their new business partners it seems that they can finally make it! "Not only have we changed record labels, we also changed management, our business management and our agency overseas. I think a lot of this has really been good for us. It's like we are reborn. Don't get me wrong, I believe in God and when I say reborn I mean that the band seems to be reborn. It's like the changes given us a blood transfusion!" They are stronger than ever and there are 20 good reasons to see them live... 20 killer songs! Take the chance to see Dave and the new Megadeth live!
Just one final comment... In other interviews Dave Mustaine often had a negative image and it was told that he's a really difficult character, but I met a nice, very honest and balanced person. It was a pleasure to talk to him and I hope to have another chance to meet him and more time for talking.

Claudia Ehrhardt


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