Pushing boundaries is something Megadeth has always done. Along with Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer, Megadeth helped define the thrash metal movement of the 1980s and breathe new life into a genre that continued to grow and expand in its wake.
Frontman Dave Mustaine has been the rock that’s held the band together through multiple lineup changes. (The current lineup is guitarist and vocalist Mustaine, guitarist Kiko Loureiro, co-founder and bassist David Ellefson, and drummer Chris Adler). No topic is foreign to Mustaine, and everything from fast cars to slippery politicians has been covered in the band’s 31-year career, all with the trademark Mustaine snarl.
With the new album, “Dystopia,” and a sold-out show on March 15 in the Rapids Theatre, Mustaine talked about how it feels to have 15 albums under his belt and to be recognized as a living legend.
Question: “Dystopia” is an album that really harkens back to some of your greatest past work, but still feels very modern in its tone and subject matter. Was looking back to the past something that was on your mind while making the album?
Answer: I think when I had my shot with Metallica, it damaged me when I lost my job. Megadeth then made it, and we had some mistakes. You go through a period where you have to learn how to appreciate losing in order to appreciate all the good that happens. I thought about how we were able to keep the magic going from our first to our second album.
Q: You’re now working with a new guitarist in Kiko Loureiro and a new drummer with Chris Adler from Lamb of God. What was the dynamic with them in the studio like, and was it refreshing and to have some new perspectives and heads to bounce ideas off of on this album?
A: It was fun to see it all going down in the studio. Being with Chris and Kiko was really refreshing because in the past we’ve had to look up other bands to talk about technical things like drum patterns. I didn’t have to do that with these guys, they were so loaded full of ideas. Chris and I are already talking about how to add more songs to the set.
Q: You use a lot of unique vocals and instrumentation often to introduce a song and set a tone for this album and other albums. Where do you seek out and get your ideas on what to use and how to use them?
A: Well I’m not stuck in any one musical era. When I’m in the car, I have one hand on the wheel and the other on the seek button. Whether it’s pop, rock, jazz, classical or even Latin American music. I like to listen to a lot of weird stuff.
Q: The album deals with ideas and explorations of abuse of power and what can happen when power gets out of control and weakens the way the world functions. What sorts of ideas, both political and emotional, were most important for you to express on this album?
A: Well it wasn’t all just politics. I think it’s more of what we’re dealing with currently. But politically we’re in such a bad spot, and we’re in a generation that’s woken up to the political deception around them. Some of the other stuff is very personal in nature.
Q. With the landscape of metal having changed so much since you began, does it ever feel strange to be looked at as a living legend and inspiration for so many others after you to start their own groups?
A: It definitely is weird. It still doesn’t really register with me. Deep down inside, even when I started in Metallica, we were just four young kids. It’s crazy to think how I’m a part of this thing now that’s changed the world and guitar playing. I never would have thought it possible in a million years.
Q. If each album serves as a learning experience for any musician, being 15 albums in, what has working on this last record taught you both as a musician and as a person?
A: Not to limit myself, and that I’m a better player than I sometimes allow myself to be, and that I don’t have to listen to other people who tell me to write songs certain ways.
Q. What moment during all the shows you’ve played makes you go “I sure love what I do?”
A: The very last note, when I get to take the guitar off. There’s nothing better after battle than to set your sword down. When I take my guitar off I say, “I’m just like you.” I followed my dreams.
Who: Megadeth with Suicidal Tendencies, Children of Bodom and Havok
When: 6 p.m. March 15
Where: The Rapids Theatre, 1711 Main St., Niagara Falls
Tickets: Sold out.