MEGADETH drummer Shawn Drover was interviewed on a recent edition of the “Metal Mayhem” show, which airs on the WVOX radio station in New Rochelle, New York. A transcript of the chat follows below.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, the early buzz on “Super Collider” has been tremendous. What are your thoughts?
Shawn Drover: Stuff that’s a little more accessible, like the title track “Super Collider”, and it’s — I think it’s got a bit for everybody, so I think the fans are really going to enjoy this record big time.
Metal Mayhem: Now, Dave Mustaine [MEGADETH mainman] has said about “Super Collider”, and I quote, “it’s more 13 weirdness” and that it was finished on 3/13/13 with 13 out of 14 songs used. We know that they’re tracks like “Don’t Turn Your Back” on the new record. Shawn, in your opinion, is “Super Collider” more along the lines of your last album in some aspects?
Shawn Drover: I don’t think any of our records, honestly, sound like each other. You know, we always go into the studio with the intention of just creating the best songs we can, and obviously, within the parameters of heavy metal. We’re not gonna put out a disco tune or anything like that, but at the end of the day it always sounds like MEGADETH, whether the song’s, you know, like a real heavy tune or something that’s a little more mid-tempo or whatever. You know, as soon as Dave plays guitar and steps up to the mic, it’s always going to sound like MEGADETH no matter what. And I think that’s a really cool thing, you know what I mean? We’re one of those bands that we can do a lot of different things and get away with it, where a lot of bands if you’re at — you know, if you play a certain kind of music, you know; I’m not naming names or anything — but after awhile, you, stylistically, get locked into a box, and that’s cool for a lot of bands, and they have no problem with that, and nor do I, but for us, I think it’s really cool that we can do different kinds of things, you know, and kind of segue into kind of different musical things, again, within staying within the parameters of metal and kind of getting away with it. You know, we’ve had fusion stuff in the past and all these different, you know, hybrids of things that we’ve done and I think that keeps it really fresh and exciting for us.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, tell us about the track “Don’t Turn Your Back”.
Shawn Drover: “Don’t Turn Your Back”, well, I mean the fans I think have only heard like maybe a 40-second snippet of the song that’s on our web site. That obviously has got a little — it’s a little more upbeat. The double-bass thing happening and it’s a standard, you know, heavy metal track, you know what I mean. There’s not a ton of twist and turns and it’s really in-your-face kind of track, and that was certainly a lot of fun. That was one of the tunes that I really enjoyed playing in the studio. It was one of the last tunes, I believe, that I recorded for the record doing drums, and that one came together rather quickly for me and I just knew how — that it needed to be thrown down and went in there and did the tracks, the drum tracks for that tune and didn’t take very long at all. And that’s actually one of my favorites on the record; I really like it. I like the heavy stuff. I’m an advocate for that, so that song definitely is a great metal tune and I really enjoyed performing drum tracks on it.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, as you know well, MEGADETH is always evolving. What else can you tell us about the uniqueness of “Super Collider”? I mean, it’s a really, really much-touted, much anticipated MEGADETH record out in June. What else would you like to say about it?
Shawn Drover: You know, the record has — of course, there’s always, you know, the traditional metal tracks that you’re going to always know and love from MEGADETH and stuff, but having said that, you know, and as I stated before there’s always been twists and turns with certain tracks in MEGADETH‘s career and there’s definitely a couple on this record, too. Nothing too weird or anything like that but there’s just some musical twists and turns, which I rather enjoyed being part of the creative process for. You know what I mean? For us, it’s not fun to always repeat yourself and try — or try to duplicate something you’ve done in the past.
Metal Mayhem: Right.
Shawn Drover: Because it’s not genuine. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not genuine anymore. If we went in and say, okay, let’s try to record, you know, “Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying? Part II”, you’re already trying to achieve something that you’ve already done that was genuine way back in the day, you know what I mean?
Metal Mayhem: Right.
Shawn Drover: So for me, it’s certainly my opinion that it’s better just to try to keep moving forward with respect to the past but try to be creative still 30 years into our career now. I mean, how many bands could even say they’ve had a 30-year career, let alone one where it’s still a ton of fans by their record. So we’re in a real fortunate place and — but for us, creatively speaking, in terms of being creative, we try not to look to the past too much, you know. As long as we stay being a metal band, which, of course, we are, just writing the best metal tunes that we can. That’s pretty much what we do. It’s not — it’s really not rocket science for us. We just try to do the best that we can.
Metal Mayhem: And MEGADETH obviously does it so well, Shawn, still at the forefront of heavy metal as you alluded to after 30 years now. On “Super Collider”, you guys brought in Bob Findlay to play horns on the track called “The House Divided”. Can you tell us about that track?
Shawn Drover: Yeah. Yeah, well that’s something that was done after I came to find out about it myself when Dave told me and, you know, he played on “Silent Scorn”, which, I think, was on “The World Needs A Hero” album, if I’m not mistaken. So it’s been actually several years since he’d played on the song, and for me that was a nice surprise once I found out about it. I thought that was a good. Again, that’s like I was referring to earlier. Something a little with a twist and turn that’s not every day that you’ll have a horn player play on a heavy metal song, you know. But again we’re one of those bands that can kind of delve in to that and we’re not afraid to it. It’s not like it over — you know, takes over the track and all the sudden become sound like EARTH, WIND & FIRE or something like that, but you know what I mean. But it’s just something that adds a little flavor to that song. It’s not a big deal for us, you know what I mean. It’s not like we’re — we’re not trying to do anything too wacky or weird. It’s just something that we thought or Dave thought that would be something to enhance that part of the song. That’s pretty much the long and short of it.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, we hear [DISTURBED and] DEVICE frontman David Draiman also helped write some of the tracks on “Super Collider”, including “Forget To Remember” and “Dance In The Rain”.
Shawn Drover: Well yeah. I mean, that was actually I believe near the beginning of the recording process. I think Dave had David [Draiman] fly in to the studio and they went over some tracks and I think in terms of lyrics and maybe some vocal melodies, you know, they just kind of threw some ideas back and forth and I guess some of those ideas ended up being on, obviously, on the record because David sang on one of the tracks at the end of one of our songs on the record as well. So that’s — just again, that’s something just having a collaboration like that after so many years of being MEGADETH, I think that’s something that keeps it fresh. I mean, Dave obviously wanted to explore that avenue, and obviously David Draiman is, you know, been in DISTURBED for many years and they’ve quite successful as well. So why not, you know what I mean? It’s not a bad thing, certainly in my view, to bounce ideas off of another artist and see what comes of it. You know, the fact that something good came out of it, obviously, it was used on the record. Had it not worked out, it probably wouldn’t have made the record, so for us, and certainly for Dave, as it was his idea, it was something he wanted to explore and I’m glad he did. I think it turned out very well.
Metal Mayhem: “Super Collider” will be MEGADETH‘s first release through Dave Mustaine‘s new label, Tradecraft, after signing an exclusive worldwide deal with Universal Music Enterprises. The new album is unleashed on June 4. Shawn, from a drummer’s standpoint, how do you feel the drumming has evolved on “Super Collider”?
Shawn Drover: I always just try to play for the track. Whatever the track calls for. For instance, the song “Super Collider”. It’s more of a basic song. It doesn’t have 19 twists and turns like certain other MEGADETH songs have. There’s not — it’s quite a concise song, you know. So with that said, it kind of a mind, and it doesn’t sound like it but it kind of reminds me — I took the approach of kind of like “Symphony Of Destruction” where it’s a very basic concise song and if you listen to the drums in “Symphony Of Destruction”, Nick [Menza] did a great job of keeping it as simple as possible but yet it’s very effective for what the song calls for. And that’s kind of the approach that I took for that song. You know, of course, there’s some little drum rolls here and there and a little, couple little things but I try to keep it real four-on-the-floor with that, because it services the song. It would make no sense to me to go on this drum tangent and do all these wacky fills on a song that doesn’t require that. Thats how I approached that.
Metal Mayhem: Right.
Shawn Drover: Now, having said that, some other songs in the record call for more double-bass drums, wacky rolls, which you’ll hear on the record. There’s one song on there that has some real left-field drumming in it. It’s something that you wouldn’t expect. I don’t want to say what song it is, I want to keep it a surprise for when people buy the record. But it’s defiantly has some twists and turns where the song starts off a certain and then it kind of kicks in and it gets more violent as it goes along. And it goes in just a lot of wacky drum fills and it was fun for me to do that. And that was kind of Dave‘s idea, like, “At this part, I really want you to cut loose and just go for it in this part of the song.” And I’m like, “Really?’ He’s like, “Yeah, man, check it out.” And I did and it’s like wow this is really kind of a left-field thing. But listening to it, it was real fun to do and I’m glad I did it. But that part called for that, you know what I mean? So that’s kind of the point I was making. I try to play for the song. It’s not evolving or devolving so much as a musician.
Metal Mayhem: Right.
Shawn Drover: Servicing the song for what I think the song requires and what we as a band think the song requires for all instruments — not just drums. For everything.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, you began playing drums I think at the age of thirteen and came roaring out of Montreal Canada. As opposed to many drummers who cross over their sticks to play the high-hat with their right hand and snare with their left hand, you keep time with your left hand and relegate your right hand for the snare drum hits. You’re left-handed.
Shawn Drover: That’s correct. The reason for that is when you’re thirteen and you jump on your buddy’s kit, which is a right-handed kit, you don’t know any better. You just jump on in it. The right foot is the main kick because that’s just how it’s set up. The high-hat’s are on the left and for me it was, you know, the right hand was for the snare, that’s just kind of how I did it. There was no handbook back then when you’re in the ’70s. There’s no YouTube videos and all this kind of thing, instructional drum videos back when I was growing up in Montreal, so that was jump on in and do whatever feels comfortable. I’m glad I did it that way, looking back all these years later. I find it very convenient and very comfortable to play the way I do. But other than having my ride symbol on the left side by my high-hat, it’s the traditional right-handed setup. Any drummer can jump on my kit and play it as a right-handed player. The only difference is the ride would be on the left side instead of they would have it on the right. That’s the only difference.
Metal Mayhem: We’ve all been hearing in leaks and pieces about MEGADETH‘s legendary Gigantour 2013. We understand the lineup has been finalized. I know a lot of your fans, all of you fans indeed are gonna want to know some information on this. What more can you tell us about Gigantour if anything?
Shawn Drover: Honestly I can’t tell you anything else that’s already been reveled. Obviously, it’s been reveled that DEVICE, David Draiman‘s project, is gonna be partaking in it. The tout dates are gonna be reveled any day now. It could be, I don’t even know exactly what day it is but it’s gonna be very, very soon obviously. And It’s gonna be awesome believe me. Just stay tuned for that ’cause it’s coming soon.
Metal Mayhem: Shawn, MEGADETH is also gonna be on the road with IRON MAIDEN. That’s gonna be a great show.
Shawn Drover: Absolutely. We’re actually we’re doing, we’re heading to Europe first. We’re doing three and a half weeks of Europe at the end of May. Half of which I believe we’re playing Sonisphere festival with IRON MAIDEN and a slough of other great bands. As well as doing some headlining shows. As well, on top of that, we’re doing several shows with IRON MAIDEN in America in September, so that, obviously, is a big thing for metal, and we’re quite excited to be a part of it so it’s gonna be fantastic.
Metal Mayhem: You were alluding to this before, bands staying together for 30 years. As one of the most pioneering bands in heavy metal history, what do you attribute, you personally attribute, MEGADETH‘s staying power to now some 35-plus years?
Shawn Drover: I just think at the end of the day I think the quality of music. Had Dave been writing crappy tunes and stuff, I don’t think the band would of lasted long. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s the quality of music that has stood the test of time. And I hope that the stuff that we’ve been making in recent years will also have that benefit in years to come. Where in 15 years, we’re gonna be looking back and going, you know, “Well, ‘Endgame’ was a great record,” and what have you. So it’s a , you can say whatever you want, people can say whatever they want, but if the music doesn’t stand the test of time, the chance of the band being around and playing the big shows that we play aren’t real good. So that’s pretty much the answer of that is the quality of music that goes on for years and years. We’re lucky to be in that position.
“Super Collider” single cover:
“Super Collider” album cover: