Other reads: MELT (Megadeth)

Last week I published the “bonus” material from the interview I did with Megadeth bassist James LoMenzo. Today, the magazine (MELT) with the proper interview hits shelves in locations around central Ohio.

Read the interview, as published in MELT.


If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s a new Megadeth CD every couple of years. Since 1985, the Dave Mustaine-led thrash metal titans have released 12 full lengths, the most recent of which, Endgame, hit stores in September. Though bassist James Lomenzo has a varied and unique resume (White Lion, David Lee Roth, Ace Frehley, Pride & Glory), his arrival in Megadeth in 2006 should be considered a pivotal moment in Megadeth’s history as the albums made since his joining the band have been among the band’s best (sorry Dave Ellefson fans).

I caught up with Lomenzo shortly after Megadeth completed an Australian tour with Slayer and before the tour that will bring Megadeth to Columbus began.

Chip Midnight: Endgame is a return to the classic, late ’80s/early ’90s Megadeth sound. Why did you decide to go back to that sound?

James Lomenzo: The directive of this album, by Dave himself, was to try to get as close to an older-time Megadeth album or even just a straight-ahead ’80s thrash metal vibe. I think we’ve come darn close, a lot closer than United Abominations though there are definitely smatterings of Megadeth’s entire catalog. It was totally by design. We went through some old rehearsal tapes that date back to before Rust in Peace. Dave has these archive tapes of rehearsals and we went through that and cataloged it all. That process took about two weeks and we kept pulling out these choice little riffs that, along with some of the stuff that we’d worked up on the road, was a really nice starting point. It seemed like a real logical way to go and try to create an older sounding album by going back to the source.

CM: Dave seems really pleased by Endgame and has said in interviews that it’s one of the best Megadeth releases. Is he just saying that to move records or does he truly believe it?

JL: He was thrilled by it even before he turned it in. His whole take is that it doesn’t matter except for history’s sake what the record does. It’s a really odd time to try to sell records these days. In his mind’s eye, this is probably the best record he’s done in years. I’ll stand behind that, I’m really very proud of it as well as the other guys.

CM: In January 2008, guitarist Chris Broderick became Megadeth’s sixth lead guitarist since 1983. What does Chris bring to Megadeth?

JL: Chris is a unique guitar player and very well versed in a lot of styles of music and a bit of phenom in his own hyper-arpeggiated super-guitar player style. He just really wants it to get closer to the familiar sounds people are used to hearing. When you’ve got people like Marty Friedman and Chris Poland, these amazing guitar players who have very diverse styles from each other, it’s a lot of vocabulary lessons let alone getting the notes right and trying to phrase things.

CM: Dave’s got a pretty strong public persona. What’s it like working with him?

JL: I’ve been here for 4 years. Dave’s a very giving guy but he’s also a stern taskmaster. He really guards Megadeth’s legacy with an iron fist. This band has been around as long as most of the other great bands and it’s really important to maintain a level with this band. That’s what we all subscribe to, it’s not a chore for any of us.

CM: Are you surprised that Megadeth can still go out there and pack large venues?

JL: There’s this crazy resurgence of interest in the music. With everybody giving their ears and minds a rest from this music for a few years, it’s suddenly new again. There’s a whole new crop of fans. I see the kids picking up on it. Things like Rock Band promote interest in this kind of music. I think it’s slightly more organic – which is a funny way to describe thrash metal –¬† compared to the ProTools-a-thon that goes on these days to make the pop idols. Anybody who has tapped into Megadeth realizes¬† there’s always be a certain level of quality that this band is at musically. When you listen to Endgame you’re going to listen and say, “This is not a piece of crap. This is another contender. That’s as vital as one of the earlier records.” That’s all we can shoot for.

CM: Can you provide some insight into the setlist for the tour?

JL: The problem with being a band like Megadeth is people want to come and hear the stuff they love. Trying to cram all that in and still have enough space … we hate throwing out something like “Tornado of Souls” but last tour we had to a few times because there wasn’t enough time to get some of the United Abominations stuff in. We’ve been doing “1312” and “Headcrusher” and we’re looking at a few other songs from Endgame. Over the past year we’ve been working in some of the slightly more abstract songs, songs like “Rattlehead” that haven’t been played in forever. Dave’s a trooper. He was singing that stuff when he was 19. He’s getting in there and rattling it out, there’s something to be said for that. You ought to see that, ladies and gentlemen.

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