Megadeth, a band that has been a dominant force in the thrash metal genre since the 1980s, is collaborating with Wargaming. By Wargaming’s kind arrangement, we had the opportunity to interview Megadeth’s frontman and the band’s icon, Dave Mustaine. We enlisted two metal fans to talk to him in detail about the Wargaming x Megadeth collaboration and Band.

The collaboration event will start on August 28th, in World of Tanks Modern Armor, World of Tanks Blitz, World of Warships, and World of Warships: Legends. New tanks, skins as well as a new ship will be available. Additionally, the Megadeth members will be featured as tank and ship crew members. Check out the Metal Fest page for further details.

──Are you a fan of video games, and if so, how often do you play video games?

I’m a fan of video games. I don’t get to play as much as most people that are real gamers get to play. My hands hurt, they’re pretty arthritic from playing guitar and it’s hard for me to make a decision – don’t play guitar any more and play games, or play guitar and don’t play games. So I try and find games for me that are enjoyable and don’t require a lot of intense hand motions. I like a lot of personal stuff like driving and snowboarding games, I did a lot of them when I was first getting into games. Of course, you know, I liked the basic games in the beginning, but you know when I was a kid going to the arcade there were a lot of basic games. The games nowadays are amazing.

Photograph: Travis Shinn

──Which one would you say is harder: To master a vehicle in World of Tanks or World of Warships, or, playing “Holy Wars” on guitar?

Haha, that’s not nice! Well, I think that “mastering” the games… Yeah, is very difficult. To master the solo, the solo is set, and the notes are specific, so once you learn it, you learn it. The game, same thing, you have patterns but it’s so much longer and so much more in-depth. Though if you were to say to master the guitar, I would say they’re about the same. But to master a singular song, it’s a little easier because its a finite challenge. Wakaru (You know)?

──Yeah. And I guess in your case on top of that (guitar), obviously you also sing for 6 minutes on a song like “Holy Wars” as well, which probably… Adds to the challenge. That’s why you are who you are, I guess.

Thank you. It’s a little hard.

──So for this collaboration between Megadeth and Wargaming, there’s gonna be a lot of Megadeth-themed cosmetics and skins to be used in the game. For these kinds of event collaboration exclusive cosmetics in the game, did you or any of the other guys in the band have any design output for this kind of stuff? Were you guys involved in the creative decision making process?

Honestly, we were as involved as we could be. I think it was very gracious of the people from Wargaming to allow us to be involved in more than just music or band business. We got to design our tanks and our ships. We got to help design the uniform that Vic was wearing, so it’s a little bit more personal.

I thought it was important too that with the four of us that we didn’t come across as a tank full of Americans, but that we came across as a tank full of “guys” that were out taking on the world, (taking out) the bad guys, you know. With Dirk being from Belgium and Kiko being from Brazil, it worked. Because a little boy that’s growing up in a country where they aren’t necessarily fans of Holland or Brazil or fans of America… you know we don’t want to come across as a “country thing”. So it’s more of a vibe. Does that make sense?

──Absolutely it does. And do you think the designs are cool?

I think it’s great. In fact there’s something very weird albeit serendipitous. The artwork for the game in China could not have our mascot, Vic Rattlehead, in his current condition, with his face being a skeleton – they didn’t want that. So we had to make Vic’s face out of metal and it ended up looking really cool! So I want to say, “Thanks, China, thanks for being so strict you gave us another badass version of our mascot!” I don’t know if that backfired on the dude that tried to take that away from us or not, but it looks pretty cool.

──So Vic Rattlehead is the mascot, the icon of Megadeth for decades… That’s you guys’ baby so to speak. So the fact that Vic’s gonna be in the game, and we’re told there’s gonna be audio, he’s actually gonna talk… That’s pretty big. How do you feel about that?

Hang on just one second, I’m going to get some water. Just want to make sure my voice sounds good. One sec.

So the question was, how do I feel about Vic’s voice? Well, naturally I’m excited about it. Vic’s my baby. I was really excited when everything went down with us having Vic coming to creation in the first place, and then to see him become such a famous mascot around the world – everybody knows Vic. They know Iron Maiden with Eddie and they know Megadeth with Vic. And it’s great. To do this, to have a game – I know Iron Maiden has a game – but this is totally different. Totally, totally, totally different.

And for us to have Vic finally talk is great. I mean he doesn’t sound like Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street, he doesn’t sound like Jigsaw from the Saw series, you know, he sounds like a very tortured creature. It’s a human voice, we’re not gonna tell anybody who did it (the voice). And it’s a human voice that we’ve worked on to make it sound like what we believe our mascot would sound like. And we’re not thinking like, “Okay, what does it sound like in the game?” because we have to think, “What does he sound like”? Because once we know what he sounds like, then we can figure out how he sounds in the game.

Because we can’t go like, “All right, we hit them!”, you know? As it’s not our style. Or “Happy birthday, have some flowers” – it does not work. So we had to find something that was in the middle, that was gonna work for everybody. Because you (Wargaming) guys are the professionals, man. You know, I play guitar for a living and I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I enjoy playing games but you guys know.

If you’re playing the same game and listening to a song, let’s say if it’s a song that’s not very good, it kind of takes away a little bit from the pleasure of the experience. Now if you’ve got a song that kicks ass, then you get pumped and all you wanna do is just win, or you wanna contact your friends and be like “Check out this game!”.

──So we understand that you’ve kindly allowed for some Megadeth songs to be featured in these games. “Soldier On” from the newest album, and classics “Peace Sells” and “Tornado of Souls.” But other than these songs set to appear in the games, are there any other songs from Megadeth’s catalogue that you think would be great for these games?

No. That’s not how we write the songs. When we write the songs they’re very much taken one song at a time and it’s based around a melodic idea that elicits a certain response inside of me spiritually. Whether it makes the inner warrior in me want to get ready to fight or the peace-loving person that I am on the inside also – because I think that for every warrior there’s a peaceful man inside, just as much as there is the warrior, you know.

Music can elicit a certain response from people emotionally and one of things I like the most about it is that it makes me feel closer to you guys. When I’ve done something and I’ve played something and Keisuke (Wargaming’s PR manager) comes and tells me, “Hey that’s my jam man, that’s what I work out to”, it makes me feel good.

──Well, for what it’s worth, I’ve been listening to Megadeth during my commute for the past one year non-stop, like every day.

Thanks man, thanks.

──As part of the collaboration there’s a tank in the game called “The Sick, The Dying, The Dead”. Obviously it’s really badass, and that particular tank reminds us a lot of the music video for the song “The Right to go Insane” from Endgame. Pretty crazy music video where you go crazy in a tank. It’s a bit of a bonkers question so I do apologize, but have you ever had any fantasy of actually getting a tank in real life and going crazy?

Do you mean have I ever stolen a tank? No, but I have had fantasies about doing crazy stuff. One of them, I could not shake the feeling. I saw something in a magazine of these little planes you could get in and you dogfight somebody else in the air, real planes. You do laser tag in the air. So my son Justis and I went over the ocean in California and we got into jet planes and we played a game where we played laser tag.

And it was really great because they usually have 5 bullets and the score was 3-2, Justis was winning and the man let us go for a 6th time so I wouldn’t be beaten by my son. It was great though, it was so fun.

──Megadeth has a long history and has remained incredibly consistent in its years in the business, and you guys just keep getting better and better, and super solid. And in light of this, the question is: how are you able to do that? You’ve never stagnated, you’re so consistent, you’re always at the top of your game. After so many years, how are you able to do that?

You know, I have no idea. I think a lot of it is that we just respect our fans so much and we love them so much. When they talk to us, even if it’s just real quick, real quick, we listen. And a lot of times, you can communicate with your audience in a concert, when they hear a certain song that you’re playing, the way that they respond is important.

Certain cities and certain countries like some songs more than others, and that’s a way of communicating with them, you know. For example, going along the California coastline, surfers and beach the mentality, is much different than the cowboy mentality of Texas, or the business men in New York City. And the music has to be different when you play it there. You pick different songs from your set. The set that we would play in California would be different than in New York.

When we did the show in Tokyo, the show for the Budokan was the most important show for us. So everything around that show we did so we could focus on Budokan. So that’s a very interesting way of communicating with the fans. When you say, we know how intense you are, we know how many bands play in Tokyo, that the Tokyo audience could be very very hard to please. For some bands I’m sure it’s difficult. They get to see so many bands. You go there and play shitty, don’t expect people to clap for you.

──This is going back to video games. Quite a few years ago you made an instrumental track for Duke Nukem, and it’s really badass. With this in mind, have you ever considered writing music specifically for video games again in the future?

I would, but I’d need to know what the game is about. Because if it was a game that required one type of music, say a “Holy Wars”, and we gave them a song like “Architecture of Aggression”, both two great songs, but two totally different tempos, two totally different maps of where the song takes you. You know, “Five Magics” and “Hanger 18” – two totally different songs. Same record, but they’re not even close.

*2D Commander icons for World of Tanks Modern Armor

So if we we’re approached by a game company to do a song for them, I’d want to know a little bit about the game. Of course, most of the games that we would be associated with would probably be pretty popular so I’d probably know a lot about them anyway. And then just make sure that we’re not doing something that we’re gonna regret in the future. You know, like find out that the person who made the game was some kind of serial killer or something like that, you know what I mean. Just kidding, by the way.

──Obviously there are lots of Megadeth fans within the Wargaming titles’ communities – World of Tanks, World of Warships – a lot of people who are really into Megadeth. And also I guess separate from that there are a lot of fans of Megadeth in general in Japan, as you know. With this in mind, do you have any message to give to these guys?

I’d like to say first off a huge thank you to Wargaming and everybody involved with that. Alex (Wargaming’s Senior PR Manager) knows how many people are involved with this and there’s a lot, so thank you to Alex and everybody involved. Thank you to all of our new friends we are making in the tech world and the gaming world. So great to meet new friends, you know. We may not have met in the past, but you know what, we know each other now. And that’s great. And as far as new music for Megadeth on games are concerned, I don’t know if we need to do a new song right now, because we need to fully honor this song for Wargaming and do what they’ve requested us to do, in our partnership – we honor that. And as soon as we fulfilled our obligation, absolutely I plan to do some more.

*Commander icons for World of Warships

[Interview, Interpretation, Transcription: Satoshi Onishi]
[Interview, Writing, Japanese Translation, Editing: Seiji Narita]
[Proofreading: Amber Vještica, Remi Morisawa]


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