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Megadeth's Shawn Drover: The more things change …

September 22, 2007

The faces are new, but in 2007, Megadeth is as strong as ever. In James Lomenzo (bass) and brothers Glen Drover (guitar) and Shawn Drover (drums), Dave Mustaine might have assembled the strongest lineup since Megadeth’s heyday. Just take a listen to their latest album, United Abominations, a focused metal assault that is the band’s best work in years. On top of that, Oct. 2, 2007 will see the release of Warchest, a box set serving as both career retrospective and rarities collection. In November, Static-X, DevilDriver, Lacuna Coil and Bring Me the Horizon will join Megadeth in Australia for the next edition of Gigantour. They are now touring the United States, with support from In This Moment and The Confession. Shawn Drover recently checked in from the road to discuss the tour, the new album and more with Live-Metal.net’s Greg Maki.

Live-Metal.net: The tour that you’re out on now just started about a week ago. How is it going so far?

Shawn Drover: It’s going great, man. It was really cool. We started off with a couple shows in Alaska. We played Anchorage and Fairbanks, which was a first experience for me, firsthand. It was great. Beautiful area, and the fans, they were rabid up there. So it was a great start to this tour, and all the subsequent shows have been great, as well. We’re in Anaheim, California, getting ready for a big show tonight, so it’s been really good so far.

On this tour, you’re playing smaller venues than on Gigantour or something like that. Do you like the more intimate setting?

I like mixing it up. I like all of them for different reasons. It’s always fun to play the hockey arenas on Gigantour and the outdoor sheds and all that stuff. It’s also fun to play the theaters and the large clubs. It’s a more intimate environment with fewer bands. So yeah, we try to mix it up and do different things. The Gigantour thing is a separate issue from just a Megadeth tour, so yeah, I enjoy doing both. It’s fun.

Megadeth has such a huge catalog of music now. How do you guys put the set list together? That must be pretty hard.

It’s real hard, dude. When a band has over 150 songs—it’s probably even more than that; it’s probably 160, 170—but yeah, it’s really difficult because you’ve gotta play songs from the new record. We’re playing four songs from the new record. You’ve gotta promote the new record, and that’s what we’re doing. But then there are songs that you have to play. You’ve gotta play “Holy Wars” and you’ve gotta play “Peace Sells” and things of that nature. So with all that said, it’s a real small block of time that we have to choose what songs are gonna fit. That makes it real difficult. Everyone wants different things, and we try to mix it up the best we can. Ultimately, we can’t please everybody, but we do try to do the best we can.

Are there any songs in the set this time that you hadn’t played before that you’re excited to be playing?

Yeah, we’re working on two right now. We haven’t debuted them yet because we’re not quite 100 percent with them. That’s a song called “Ashes in Your Mouth” from Countdown to Extinction, and we’re working on one from the first record called “Skull Beneath the Skin.” They’re coming real soon; we’ve just gotta tweak a couple things. With the insanity of starting a new leg of a tour there’s all kinds of stuff that goes along with that, but we’re gonna get them in there real soon.

Have you had a chance to check out the two opening bands, The Confession and In This Moment?

Yeah, I saw a bit of The Confession two, three shows ago, and they sounded really good. Last night, actually, I walked up and check out our direct support, In This Moment, and yeah, they sounded really good. It seems like a really good package, and the fans seem to be digging it, so yeah, it’s working out good.

It was a little strange earlier this year to see Megadeth as an opening act on the Heaven and Hell tour. How did that go for you?

It was something that fell into our lap through management, and we thought it would be a great precursor to the release of the new record, just kind of go out there and play a couple songs from the new record and go out there and have fun. We crammed everything we could into 45 minutes. We had a really great time. They were great guys. For me, personally, I thought it was awesome. We’re getting exposed to a different audience who may not have heard Megadeth or be exposed to that music, so for me it was a win-win situation. We jumped on it.

I want to say that I really like the new album, United Abominations, a lot. A lot of people, including me, are saying it’s one of the best Megadeth albums in a long time. Did you guys have that kind of feeling when you were making it?

I don’t know. We didn’t go in there with any preconceived notions, like, “This is gonna be better than that record.” We just went in there with a bunch of songs that we thought were good, and we went in there and worked on them and hammered them out. I think the results speak for themselves. I think it’s a really solid record. Whether it’s better than this or that record, that’s all subjective. My opinion is that it’s a very solid record, and we’re real happy with it.

Megadeth obviously is Dave Mustaine’s baby. How involved are the rest of you in the making of an album. Obviously, you’re playing your instruments, but in the whole creative process, what is your role?

He’s really open to suggestion and interpretation of certain things. With me, with my drum tracks, it was a real collaborative effort. I went in there and played what I thought it should sound like, and he’d say, “Hey, why don’t you try this in that part,” and the same with the engineer we had for the record, too. All three of us would bounce ideas, and even Glen and James at times would say, “Hey, what do you think about doing that or this?” We all fed off each other, and what you hear is a result of that. I thought it was a really cool process.

Going back a couple years, how did you get the job in Megadeth to begin with?

I got the job at about the 11th hour. Glen was already in the band, and they were gearing up for the tour. I got the call six days before the tour started, saying it wasn’t working out with the drummer and they wanted to know what I thought about coming in and joining the band. I was literally on a plane within 12 hours and rehearsing in Tempe, Arizona, with the guys. They completely blindsided me with it, but looking back now, I’m glad it happened that way. I just jumped in there and went for it. It turned out really good.

Did you know Dave?

No, I had not met Dave personally yet. Obviously, I was going to at some point. I had intended to go see several shows, being that Glen was in the band and such. But no, I had not met him personally yet. I had sent a couple emails here and there, but that was it at that point.

In the past, Megadeth has gone through a lot of drummers, with almost Spinal Tap-like frequency at times.

[Laughs] Yeah, I don’t think any of them exploded, though, but yeah, I know what you’re saying.

Yeah, I was wondering if spontaneous combustion ever entered your mind.

No, nobody died in a bizarre gardening accident or anything of that nature. [laughs] But no, that happens with a lot of bands, dude. So many bands have had several lineup changes, and it’s just something that happens. Either it works or it doesn’t with a certain group of people. Some bands can retain their original lineup forever. Rush is a good example of that. They’ve been together, those three guys, since ’74. But in a lot of other instances, it doesn’t work out, and you either move on at that point and continue the band, or you don’t. That’s just the way it works out in this band. But having said that, the band’s always maintained a high level of musical integrity and excellence, so it’s worked out for him.

So were you always a fan of Megadeth over the years before you joined the band?

Oh yeah, dude. I was a fan since 1985 when Killing came out. So it was no-brainer for me. When Glen was asked to join and then I was asked to join, it was like, “Hell yeah.” I love the band, so I was delighted to be offered a chance.

When you were younger and just starting to play, did you and Glen always want to and plan to play in bands together?

Yeah. And we did, for the most part. We’re from Canada. Glen stayed in Canada, and I moved to America in 1988, so at that point it was more of a long distance thing where we would record music and stuff and I would fly up there. But the original vision was, “Wouldn’t it be great to play hockey arenas and be in a huge band?” Luckily for us, it turned out really well.

Obviously, you guys must get along, but what is it like being out on tour with family? Are there times when you drive each other crazy?

No, it’s real simple for us. We get along well, as you implied, so that’s a really great thing. We respect each other, and we know when to give each other space. We’re not always having tea and crumpets all day long and constantly with each other 24 hours a day. We do our thing, and if I want to go read a book on the bus or whatever, that’s what I’ll do. And the same with the other guys. When we have a day off, we just want to do our thing, and it works out really well for us. Thus far, it’s worked out very well.

Later this year, Megadeth is heading over to Australia and the Pacific Rim area. Have you played those places before?

Yeah, we played Japan and Australia, since I’ve been in the band, twice now; this will be our third trip. But we’re actually expanding it a little bit. We’re playing a couple more places in Australia, which is really great. We’re going to Indonesia and some other places like that. I haven’t checked the tour schedule. I know a couple things have been added. But yeah, we’re playing some really interesting places, and I’m looking forward to that big-time. I love going over there anyway, so it’s going to be a lot of fun for me.

So far, what do you consider the highlight of your time in the band?

You know, that’s a good question. There’s been so many. I would just say the overall experience has been a real high point for me in my life. I appreciate what I do and I don’t take it for granted and I don’t abuse the power that we have in this band. I’m here for the music first and I have a good time doing it, and that’s pretty much it. The whole thing’s been a lot of fun.