Dave Mustaine of Megadeth was born on this day, September 13th in 1961, which makes him just a wee bit younger than me (bastard). I had dinner with Dave once and, aside from being hilarious and a super nice guy, I can tell you that he has (or at least had) the most beautiful hair in Rock. I bet he is a Pantene guy, for sure. Happy Birthday, Dave!
Testament vocalist and Native American activist Chuck Billy is pleased to announce his inclusion in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s new exhibition, Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture. Of his inclusion in the exhibit, Billy said, “I’m humbled and proud to be recognized as a Native American contribution to the Arts and Music.”
Quoting the Smithsonian official press release, Up Where We Belong tells [Native artist’s] stories and histories and provides visitors the opportunity to hear music and discover artists with whom these exceptional musicians collaborated. Visitors will also learn of the musical greats who inspired these artists, as well as the growing number of contemporary performers who follow in their path.”
Chuck Billy is featured in the “Encore” segment of the exhibition, which includes artists who represent the span of Native achievement in mainstream music over the past half century, according to the Smithsonian. Other musicians featured in this segment are saxophonist Jim Pepper and singer Debora Iyall (Romeo Void).
The exhibition is located on the National Mall in Washington, DC on the second-floor level of the Sealaska Gallery, and will run through January 2, 2011. For more information about the Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Culture exhibition, please visit This Link.
Chuck Billy and Testament are currently on tour with Slayer and Megadeth.
Given their shared preoccupation with kidnapping, family dysfunction and untimely death, it’s sort of surprising that Lifetime and Megadeth don’t share more fans. Can you tell the difference between the titles of Lifetime movies and Megadeth songs? Take Mental Floss Dot Com’s fun Lunchtime Quiz: Lifetime Movie Title or Megadeth Song? now!
The March issue of Modern Drummer features a cover story tribute to the late Earl Palmer, as well as a rockin’ feature on Ronnie Vanucci of The Killers and my update on metal master Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Ozzy). On newsstands February 3rd!
Shawn Drover had been drumming professionally for over ten years when was invited to sit behind the drum throne in Dave Mustaine’s 2004 resurrection of the mighty Megadeth, a band he’d been a fan of since 1985’s Killing is My Business. With his experience and knowledge of Megadeth’s catalog, Shawn was a perfect fit, and the drummer admits he added a very important tool to his drumming arsenal shortly after joining the band. “One thing that Dave taught me early on is to play for and stay true to the song,” he offers. “That’s the approach we took for the latest studio album, United Abominations.” Shawn says Mustaine’s advice really took hold in his three years of touring with Megadeth prior to recording United Abominations. “I could understand the tendency to want to really cut loose and think, ‘this is my first big Megadeth record and I’m going to show you people all of my chops,” he explains. “But I learned to sit back, listen and recognize what might be self indulgent and not really not suiting the song that well. I didn’t cut loose as much as I probably would have if we’d recorded the disc in 2004, when I joined, so it worked out really well to have that live experience before we cut our first studio album together. I learned so much in that time that it didn’t freak me out going into the studio. Like ‘Oh my god, I’m making a Megadeth record!’ I was completely calm about it.”
Metal Edge: What’s your favorite story from the recording sessions for United Abominations?
Shawn Drover: One of the coolest things was that we recorded all of my drum tracks in (Pink Floyd guitarist) David Gilmour’s old house in the middle of nowhere in England. It’s a fifteenth century mansion with a studio detached from it. When we got there I had my kit set up in the studio, but then Dave says, ‘I’ve got a little surprise for you. We’ve got another kit.’ It was one of John Bonham’s old Ludwig kits; the only kit that his estate allows to be rented for sessions. It was a 1975 standard four-piece Ludwig kit with a black and white pinstripe finish – one rack tom, one 20-inch floor tom that I used for the whole record, the snare and a monstrous 26-inch bass drum. I said, ‘I’m using this thing as much as possible!’ I incorporated Bonham’s kit into the kit that I had and played it on quite a few parts on the record; it was fantastic sounding. Thinking back now, that whole experience was extremely positive and fun, so I really enjoyed it.
Metal Edge: In your playing, the role of each hand is reversed in that you keep time with your left and use your right hand for the snare. Do you think this technique helps your drumming stand out as unique among your peers?
Shawn Drover: It’s definitely something I do that an extremely high percentage of drummers don’t, because most drummers play cross-handed. I learned the way I did because kits I learned on when I started playing were set up for right handed drummers, and I’m left handed. It does have some advantages, because there’s nothing keeping me from hitting the snare with full force. With the restriction of the right hand crossing over the left, your mobility is not as open as it is playing openhanded, like I do. It also has disadvantages but I’ve been doing it for so long that I just make it work for me. I figure if Simon Phillips can do it, I shouldn’t have a problem either!
Metal Edge: Your drums are set up on a replica of the Voelker Rack System previously used by Nick Menza. What do you like about that rack?
Shawn Drover: It was actually Dave’s idea, when he resurrected the band, to make an upgraded version of that. Of course, I was all about it! A fabricator in Tempe, Arizona put it together based off the old design and I think it’s fantastic! It’s hydraulic driven and it’s all cranked up. My tech loves it because it’s easy to break apart and assemble. It splits right in the middle and the drums stay on the riser for the entire tour. Every night when I walk onstage I know my drums are exactly the same because they’re all in position and held there. It’s visually very cool and very dependable. It was quite costly but it’s an investment: I’ve had it for almost four years now and it should last for fifteen to twenty, easy.
Sizes: (2) 22” x 20” Bass Drums, 10”, 12”, 13” and 14” Rack Toms, 16” and 18” Floor Toms, 14” x 7” Snare
Sticks: Vic Firth
Heads: Remo Black Suede
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.