Dave Mustaine has doubled-down on his recent comments about wanting to do something new with Metallica's James Hetfield. Last week, the Megadeth frontman revealed that he and Hetfield were planning a new "project" together sometime in the last decade, but that it got derailed over a publishing dispute about Metallica royalties.
In a new interview with Songfacts, Mustaine followed up last week's comments by confirming many people's suspicions — that the royalty dispute in question was about Metallica's 1982 demo, No Life 'Til Leather. The coveted tape was supposed to have a massive vinyl reissue with 20 new tracks sometime in the mid-2010s, but it never came to fruition due to Mustaine and Hetfield's differing opinions on who deserves royalty credits for a few of the songs in that batch.
Mustaine went deep on the details of that dispute with Songfacts, and he also reiterated that he'd love to collaborate again with Hetfield — as well as Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. However, he also took the opportunity to throw a barb Ulrich's way by saying that Metallica's best attribute has always been their guitar parts — "everybody makes fun of the drums."
"The last time we talked it didn't end very well because we have some memory of a couple of things that took place when I was in the band," Mustaine said of his final conversation with Hetfield. "I remember it one way and he is saying that it happened another. But it's about somebody else — it's not even him. He's talking to me on behalf of 'you know who," Mustaine hinted, most likely referring to Ulrich.
"They wanted to release No Life 'Til Leather — 27 songs, posters, flyers, pictures, everything. I said I would love to do this thing, and James said, 'Look, we fucked up. The last three things we've done failed abysmally.' He said it was Lulu [Metallica's 2011 collab with Lou Reed], something called Orion [Metallica's Orion Music + More festival], and there was one other thing... I think it was a film about a fan or something [the 2013 film Metallica: Through The Never]. I don't know. I don't see them as a failure.
"But I had said, 'Yeah, I'd be interested.' And he said, 'We'd like to get everything right with all the history, the publishing and stuff.' And I said, 'Good.' Because part of the reason why we haven't been able to really reconcile is because I had songs that when I left I didn't want them to record, and they went ahead and recorded them but they didn't pay me what my share of the songs were.
"James and I wrote 'Metal Militia' and 'Phantom Lord' — every note. And somehow, on the record [Kill 'Em All] it says Lars gets 10 per cent. And on 'Metal Militia' that Kirk [Hammett] gets some of it, and he wasn't even in the band [at the time it was written].
"So I've come to terms with it, and when he said, 'We'd like to get this right,' I said, 'Great. Let's do it. I have no problem.' And when I said, 'This is what it is,' he said, 'No. It's kind of what it was, and that's how it is.' And I thought to myself, you know what? When you guys did that to me before, it was not cool. I said, 'Don't use my stuff' and you did it, and then didn't give me my fair share. So why would I want to willingly enter into something like that? I wouldn't. So that's where we stand right now."
"I would love to work with James," Mustaine added. "I'd like to work with Lars again, too, but I think the real talent in Metallica has always been around the guitar — everybody makes fun of the drums.
"Lars is a really great song arranger. And believe it or not, I watched him on a piece-of-shit acoustic guitar write the opening riff to 'Master Of Puppets.' You know what that was? It was a guy with a guitar that doesn't know how to play, and he's going [mimics playing a chromatic run] on the neck. It wasn't anything really mind-blowing by any means. The way James played it made it mind-blowing."