Wine, animals and then music

Metal band Megadeth's (from left) Dirk Verbeuren, David Ellefson, Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro have sold 50 million records worldwide.
Metal band Megadeth's (from left) Dirk Verbeuren, David Ellefson, Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro have sold 50 million records worldwide.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Megadeth singer Dave Mustaine lives on a farm, tends to livestock and runs a beer and wine business

American guitarist and singer Dave Mustaine made his name with influential metal band Megadeth, who are known for their aggressive tunes and lyrics about social ills.

Their Grammy Award-winning album Dystopia (2016), for example, warns against the breakdown of society.

Mustaine's personal life is a contrast to the band's grim outlook, though. The 55-year-old and his family recently moved from Los Angeles to a farm in the state of Tennessee, where they tend to livestock as well as run Megadeth's own line of beer and a wine company, Mustaine Vineyards.

"I probably spend most time on the beer and wine, and then with the animals, and then after that, probably the music," says Mustaine, whose band will perform for the third time here, at the Kallang Theatre on Tuesday.

The move to Tennessee has also helped his son, Justis, 25, launch a band management company.

  • BOOK IT / MEGADETH - LIVE IN SINGAPORE

  • WHERE: Kallang Theatre, 1 Stadium Walk

    WHEN: Tuesday, 8pm

    ADMISSION: From $108 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

Mustaine and his wife, Pamela, also have a daughter, Electra, 19, a budding country singer who is launching her music career in Tennessee's capital Nashville, an epicentre for music.

"It's great, really good for us, I learn a lot about animals, my wife and I and the kids have had a really great time out here, we're thriving," he adds.

"It's just crazy, I would never have, in a million years, thought that if I move from Los Angeles, the land of milk and honey, out to Tennessee, the land of hay, that my life would improve like this."

Mustaine formed Megadeth in 1983 after he was fired from Metallica for aggressive behaviour, a band that went on to become highly successful.

The early years were hard, he recalls, a far cry from the life that he leads today.

"No, I didn't think we'd be alive at this point. We were starving, we were living in Hollywood, crashing at people's houses, begging for food. You don't know where your next meal is coming from, you don't have a place to live. The thought of living into your 50s as just a musician doesn't really come to mind."

Like Metallica, Megadeth became known as one of the pioneers of the thrash metal genre. Albums such as Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? (1986) and Rust In Peace (1990) are considered classics in the genre.

With 15 albums under their belt, the band are also commercially successful and have sold 50 million records worldwide.

Mustaine plays an active role in engaging the band's global fan base. Last month, for example, he hosted several of them in a "Megadeth Boot Camp" at his former home, a private estate in California.

Fans who turned up were treated to a weekend of intimate performances, music workshops, jam sessions and wine tasting with the band, which also comprise founding member and bassist David Ellefson, guitarist Kiko Loureiro, who joined in 2015, and drummer Dirk Verbeuren, who joined last year.

"That was fun, I don't think the fans expected to come to my house. Once they got there, everybody got really excited and let their hair down," Mustaine recalls.

"A couple of people thought that we were going to somebody else's house and that we're just faking it. And I was like, 'No, this is my pad, this is where me, Pam and the kids live,' we just had a blast."

He is excited to return to Singapore.

The band played here for the first time at Fort Canning Park in 2007 and did another show at the same venue in 2012.

He still remembers an incident involving a policeman who lost his hat backstage at the 2012 show.

"They were fans and they came back to get autographs so we were signing stuff for them," he says of a group of policemen who paid them a visit.

"They left, and then a guy came back and said, 'I left my hat in here'. I said, 'Go ahead, look for it, I don't know where it's at.' And I remember he couldn't find it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'Wine, animals and then music'. Print Edition | Subscribe