Illinois Entertainer July 2017 - Page 22

Taste The Difference By Tom Lanham N ot too long ago, Dave Mustaine brought his pile driving thrash- metal outfit Megadeth on tour – backing its recent Grammy-winning return to form, Dystopia -- to Jakarta, the bustling capital of Indonesia on the island of Java that boasts a population of over ten million people. And he has a heartwarming when- in-Rome philosophy that guides him whenever he finds himself traveling abroad – a little kindness in foreign coun- tries can go a long, long way, since American stars often have the reputation of being snooty, standoffish, almost untouchable. “And whenever anybody says, ‘Say the one thing that people would- n’t believe the most about you,’ I usually say that it’s just that I’m approachable, that I want to talk to people, that I’m not untouchable. Which is,” he sighs resigned- ly, “kind of a bummer sometimes.” In Jakarta, for instance, Mustaine – a trim, workout-buff 55 – was lunching in a local restaurant, doing his best to savor the flavors a truly exotic meal. But he looked up to find that over two dozen fans had tracked him to the place, and were seated sporadically at surrounding tables like ominous crows in Alfred Hitchcock’s frightfest “The Birds,” waiting. Waiting for him to finish. “And they’re all sitting around, staring at you and watching you eat, until they can take a picture with you and have you sign stuff,” he recalls. “And they’re only waiting because they’ve walked up to you while you’re eating, and your bodyguards have had to say, ‘Please. Please wait until he’s done.’ So now they’re all watching every bite you take, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh boy – it’s kind of hard to be cool while I’m eating.’” Back at his hotel, the singer ran into more snafus. Acolytes really love their Megadeth in Jakarta, and they’d not only followed him back to his hotel, but rough- ly a hundred or so were waiting by the 22 illinoisentertainer.com july 2017 facility’s pool to head him off before he left the building again. “So I was going down to the gym – because I don’t want to be some fat slob – and I had to sneak past all these people who were waiting, and who weren’t even staying in the hotel at all,” he says. But the gym, unfortunately, wasn’t very private – it had giant plate-glass win- dows that everyone could stare through, longingly, as he did his best to ignore them and stay focused on riding the stationary bike. He almost lost his cool. “People were taking pictures of me on the bike through the windows, and I was like, ‘Fuck me! Now I know what Princess Di felt like!’ She would go to the gym and people were tak- ing pictures of her there. And nowadays, everybody has a camera on their cell- phone, so everybody’s a photographer. And they all expect to take your picture.” Far from being jaded, however, Mustaine is remarkably savvy, insightful, even prescient about the cutthroat enter- tainment industry, the feral beast he’s been trying to tame – with varying degrees of success – since his formative days with the SoCal combo Panic, then a fledgling Metallica, which he joined as lead guitarist in 1981. And – not that he likes to brag, he chuckles – but that supergroup’s followers might not know that its frontman James Hetfield didn’t play an instrument in the beginning – he only sang. “So I was Metallica’s only guitar player, and there would be no thrash metal, I believe, if I hadn’t pushed my guitar playing to the extremes that I d