Headbangers’ Brawl is a weekly column where Metal Insider’s contributors take a moment to debate and analyze two opposing sides of a topical issue occurring in the world of metal and/or the music industry.
By now everyone’s caught up to date regarding Megadeth’s recent shakeup in its lineup, all the while rumors continue to escalate that the beloved Rust In Peace era will reunite. However, Mustaine added more fuel to the rumor mill during an interview with Full Metal Jackie at NAMM, saying flat out “James Lomenzo, James MacDonough, Glen Drover, Shawn Drover, Chris Broderick… all those guys… the fans don’t want those guys in Megadeth.” Whether or not this means Marty Friedman and Nick Menza are back in the fold has yet to be confirmed. But Mustaine’s comments left us asking… do fans really care who else is in Megadeth? Do we really want a Rust In Peace era reunion, or will any hired gun do?
Zach: Sure, it would be great to see Megadeth perform with Friedman and Menza again, even just for one tour (though it would be more ideal to see it last, that’s if they could get their act together). However, I’ve seen Megadeth live a handful of times (most with David Ellefson, but all without Friedman and Menza), and guess what… they still kill it live! A lot of it had to do with Broderick and Drover, who obviously jelled well with Mustaine and Ellefson. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter who else is in the band, but those two proved that if you found the right musicians with drive and motivation, you could get the job done well. Sure, you could argue that Megadeth’s latest studio efforts have been lackluster… but do you really think bringing Friedman and Menza back into the fold is going to make that better? Let’s face it, Mustaine is the captain of the U.S.S. Megadeth, and how good or bad a Megadeth album is depends on him (his bandmates, even Ellefson, can only impact the music so much under his guard).
Bram: Dave Mustaine definitely has a knack for picking good musicians. And ultimately, I don’t think anyone’s left a Megadeth show saying “they were good, but that guy’s no Nick Menza.” Marty Friedman is in a class of his own, as is Chris Broderick. They were both well enough known before they joined Megadeth. That being said, Supercollider kind of came and went, and even though they’re one of the Big 4 bands, they’re not getting any younger. Bringing back the classic Rust In Peace lineup would spur ticket sales from casual fans that liked the band at their best. It would take setting aside his ego for Mustaine to realize that, essentially, reuniting that era would make them a nostalgia act, which he might not be capable of. It should also be noted that neither Friedman or Menza have really said anything about really wanting to return to the band, and Friedman is a mega-star in Japan, so it’s not like he needs to do that for financial or personal reasons. Regardless, Mustaine’s comments suggest that he’s either going to be making a big move in bringing back the most renowned former members or making another announcement that will get people talking. But if Rust In Peace sells, I’d be buying.
Chris: I don’t know that a Rust in Peace lineup reunion is going to do anything to impact Megadeth in any meaningful way. Like Zach said, Dave Mustaine is firmly in command of Megadeth’s course, and bringing back Marty Friedman and Nick Menza won’t change that in the slightest. For the past decade, Megadeth has been the one member of the Big 4 that’s just kind of there, not fading away but also not really making an impact. Gigantour has not occurred consistently for some time, and Megadeth’s last few studio albums have been….lacking. There is only one way that I could see Friedman and Menza returning have a strong impact on the band, and that would be if the band performed Rust in Peace in its entirety during 2015 touring. The only problem with that is that the band did it five years ago during the American Carnage Tour, so that might not even create a draw, because most fans will have seen it already. In conclusion, while I’ll be happy to see Friedman and Menza back in Megadeth, I don’t know that it’s “necessary”, because it likely won’t have any discernible impact on the state of the band.
Matt: Of course a reunion of this lineup isn’t “necessary,” per se. When you take into account Mustaine’s comments into account of Drover and Broderick “not being what fans want to see,” it sounds almost like a reunion of former, renowned members would be a money grab attempt. Die-hard Megadeth O.G.s don’t care who else is in the band other than Mustaine, he always surrounds himself with true talent that is able to play the essential songs. I don’t know how many prudes or elitists are out there for a band like Megadeth that would say, “Oh, they started completely sucking after Rust In Peace, which is why I’ve never bought any of their albums or bothered to see them live since then.” But a reunion tour of any kind nearly always yields positive results. However, it doesn’t seem like Mustaine and Megadeth are really hurting financially at the present moment. Unless Mustaine’s comments based on his personal politics or beliefs have hurt his reputation, and a reunion would be some sort of damage control (assuming he cares what other people think about what he has to say, which seems highly doubtful).
However, when you look at recent interviews with not only Mustaine and Ellefson but also Menza and Friedman and look not at what they say, but what they have NOT said (i.e. They “can’t comment” on any kind of reunion rumors or speculation), you notice they’re not responding, “No,” or outright denying the rumors. Countless times in all contexts and venues, we’ve all seen rumors turn out to be true when they’ve been denied or returned with, “No comment.” So I wouldn’t be surprised if this reunion does come to fruition at this point. Especially if it would get fans to come out to shows in the hopes of hearing JUST old material, or classic albums played in their entirety. And maybe it’s the hopeless romantic in me, but as all of these members get older, maybe they’re coming to a point of reconciliation and rekindling of their old friendships, or at least partnerships. Which is also something we’ve seen countless times before, regardless of context or venue.