You'd think there'd be a lot of criteria to consider in choosing the lineup for an event like Gigantour -- the metalfest that's set to blow the doors off the Winnipeg Convention Centre this weekend.
But for Megadeth frontman (and Gigantour founder) Dave Mustaine, it all comes down to one thing: The guitars, stupid.
"I like when the (lineup) consists of predominately guitar-heavy bands," says Mustaine, the former Metallica axeman and thrash-metal pioneer who handpicks the bands on the Gigantour bill. "If they're some of these new bands who don't feature guitar players, like the flux we just went through -- almost 10 years of pussy bands that didn't know guitar solos -- to me, that's just frustrating.
"Growing up as a music fan, and loving music for as long as I can remember, there's always been a guitar solo in songs, even the short ones. Look at the dude from The Cars. He was one of the greatest guitar soloists ever, because he was able to put an entire melody into, like, two bars of a song."
For his third Gigantour, Mustaine opted for bands with a heavier sound than The Cars, enlisting California power trio High on Fire, Arizona rockers Job for a Cowboy, Finnish outfit Children of Bodom and Scandinavian death-metal act In Flames to join his own band on a 29-date trek across North America.
And while he admits it's impossible to predict how the supporting acts will complement each other, he says a recent stretch of shows in the U.S. went off without a hitch.
The same can be said of Megadeth's new lineup. Mere months ago, Mustaine found himself scrambling to find a last-minute replacement for lead guitarist Glen Drover, who quit the band unexpectedly to focus on his family.
Mustaine says he couldn't be happier with Drover's replacement -- former Nevermore thrasher Chris Broderick -- but he still bristles at the mention of blogosphere denizens who didn't like the way he handled the transition.
"He loves his kid -- he quit because he wanted to be with his son. How can you be so wicked that you can't see the beauty in that?" he says. "We remain friends, and I won't talk bad about him because he helped me. So to the people who don't like how it was 'handled,' go handle yourself."
For decades, Mustaine has been considered one of the more divisive figures in metal -- due in large part to his antics while addicted to drugs and alcohol in his early days. But he says it still stings when his reputation precedes him, especially in the Internet age, where malice and misinformation go hand in hand.
"They get on the other side of a keyboard and all of a sudden they're made of titanium ... but there's no honour in being an anonymous tough guy," he says of his critics. "And I can't change how those people think about me. It would drive me bonkers. But I am one of those dudes who can be in a room with 10 people, and nine will like me and one won't. And I'll be concerned about that one person."
Mustaine admits he's also concerned about those looking to settle old scores through his family members, noting he recently had to convince his teenage son not to try out for the football team.
"I just said no," he recalls. "Please don't be a jock. Please don't go out there and play football and have someone see my name on the back of your jersey and try to make an example out of you."
As a compromise, Mustaine bought a home gym, enlisting Broderick to help assemble it.
Of the new recruit -- part of a long line of players who've toiled under the Megadeth banner since the early '80s -- Mustaine has only praise, noting he knew he'd hit paydirt after seeing a YouTube clip of Broderick playing.
"I watched him do the double-handed thing, and I was like, 'You're f--ing kidding me,' "he says. "I used to do two hands on the neck, but I quit a long time ago ... So my first reaction was, 'I gotta get better.' "
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