The Chris Broderick Interview
"It's Dave's band," Broderick says down the line from LA and adds a hearty chuckle. "He makes the rules, I have no problem with that - anyone that stays committed to one band for this long deserves to make the rules; he's the captain of the ship. Besides, it was always his vision, Megadeth is his band."
Broderick has been on board the good ship Megadeth since 2008 - in fact he joined just days before he was on stage.
"That was incredible, really, just surreal. I mean here I was being asked to learn these parts from a band I had grown up listening to; not just listening to actually, worshipping," there's a pause for a chuckle. "I mean every kid with a guitar dreams of jamming with their heroes, right? And this was me - getting to play the parts to songs that I had obsessed over. It was daunting and wonderful, you want to play these songs with all the love and attention you can, you want to be respectful to the original parts but you also want to put your own stamp on them where you can."
Broderick first recorded his own sound as part of Megadeth with the band's 2009 album, Endgame, but he joined the band at a time when there was a lot of looking back. Broderick's playing already graces three live Megadeth albums - including a revisit of the entire Rust in Peace album (Rust in Peace Live).
He's on the phone to discuss the brand new album, TH1RT3EN (yes, it's the group's 13th studio album and in the absence of a clever title comes the stylised block-capitals with the numbers 1 and 3 encased in the word; like a horror film-title from the early 2000s).
Broderick acknowledges that looking back has helped Mustaine - and therefore the band - to move forward.
"There's definitely been some reconciling of the past - and it's been a great way for me to come into the band, learning and playing all of these songs I grew up with. I knew so many of them - but when you have to learn a whole catalogue like that it's pretty intense. We've played around the world with the Rust in Peace shows and then did The Big 4. Now we return to playing new material and TH1RT3EN reminds me of so many of the Megadeth albums from the past. I mean, I hear bits from so many of the band's albums - but it's cool; we've locked in to a sound that is informed by the past. And I think for Dave especially it's been really important to work through his catalogue. In TH1RT3EN I think there is definitely a lot of the sound of Killing Is My Business in places and also Peace Sells, Countdown to Extinction, Rust in Peace and Youthanasia. It's all in there. All part of the patchwork and the legacy continues with the new album. That's the hope..."
Mustaine once said of erstwhile guitarist Marty Friedman (a band member from 1990-2000) that the key to their swap-around lead/rhythm playing was that they both had such different approaches to soloing; Marty soloed with a lot of love, which countered Mustaine's solos that he considered full of hate.
Broderick laughs at this before deciding that "actually that's pretty close to the relationship that Dave and I have in a playing sense. I'm not saying I play like Marty - or as well as Marty - but I'm trying to perform that role, to be a foil and I think Dave and I play off each other as well as Marty and he did at their best. I'd like to think we give each other space and I think that's what works and that's been part of what's been so great being in this band."
Another thing that Broderick believes has been great is the return of bassist Dave Ellefson. "Obviously I wasn't in the band the first time around when he was but he's an important part of the sound of classic Megadeth and there's just so much history - and he's another part of that; an important part of the band's sound."
The goal with TH1RT3EN was to make "a really heavy album" but one that "has melody; melody is important - and Megadeth does melody well". Broderick is proud of the album - he trots out a few of the usual platitudes about it being the best album the band has done in a while. Except, maybe he has a point - it's certainly the best Megadeth album I've heard in a long time - and though I know from interviewing musicians they're generally trained to say that whenever a new album is released, Broderick definitely takes his role and his instrument very seriously.
When I speak to him the album has just been released and though there have been some warm-up shows the band is only just starting to plan its schedule. So a break for Broderick, then?
"Well, erm," there's an interrupting chuckle, an almost embarrassed laugh, "I've been practising. I take practice pretty seriously - as you need to - so I've been getting in some eight- and 10-hour days working on technique, working on all sorts of ideas. I am still working at playing - whenever I get a spare moment. I'm a long way off being the player I want to be and I find it's really important to keep the ideas flowing, just to maintain your ability."
Will we hear any of his ideas on future Megadeth albums?
"Oh, Dave is still very much the boss there - but he's receptive to my ideas; I make suggestions, I get to suggest options. But I also take orders. That's the nature of the job and the role - it's his band. If he told me to play something a certain way instead of what I was doing - well then I'd do that. Dave gets to decide. And I respect that. Hell, I just think I'm f**king lucky to be playing in a band I love. A band I f**king loved when I was a teenager, when I was growing up and hoping to make music more than just a hobby. So it's all still pretty amazing to me that I get to be in this band and contribute my playing.
"TH1RT3EN is very much a renaissance for Megadeth, I can't say it's a comeback because we've not gone away. But we're as good as ever - I say that with all respect to all past members of the band. We're rocking hard and heavy and I am very proud that there's been something of a return to the thrash elements - and there are a lot of Bay Area bands now that are feeling informed by the work that Megadeth and Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax created in the 1980s. That side of metal is back - and I'm very pleased about that. It's great hearing some of the kids in LA and San Francisco really hitting it hard. For a while there metal was a dirty word and I never understood that."
We've just got time for the usual call about how the band hopes to return to New Zealand. "Well, we always have a good time there and the Kiwi audiences do seem to get what we do - you're a passionate lot so we hope to see you on the next tour. I would hope we'd be out there in the New Year. The plan is to tour this record pretty hard and I like to think that since we've done the Rust in Peace and Big 4 shows we would definitely play a lot of this new album - but of course we'll always offer a selection of the old songs too."
Have you heard TH1RT3EN? Are you a Megadeth fan still? Were you ever? And what do you think of Chris Broderick as the new kid on the block? How do you like his sound compared with the past guitarists'? What's your favourite Megadeth lineup? How do you rate the new lineup? And what's your favourite album by the band?
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