08.23.09

Scorpion Q+A

Question

Dear Scorpion,

Dave is undeniably one of the greatest metal players out there, I was wondering if he was entirely self taught in the early days and what he would consider his influences to be? Finally, how did he develop such speed?

Thanks
Lewis

Answer

Hi Lewis,
Here’s a very cool interview segment with Dave from 1991 where he talks about early/current influences and learning to play. Enjoy!

(Dave) started playing the guitar at age 15. Why?

“Because tuning a guitar is way easier than tuning a piano! Actually, it was down to the husband of one of my three sisters. When she first met him he was in a rock band that covered songs by Kiss, Mott The Hoople, The Stones and stuff like that, and after listening to him twang away and hearing all the power of an amplified guitar, I thought ‘Wow, this is a cool idea!'”

So, picking up the acoustic guitar his mother had bought him, Dave set about teaching himself to play – with a few helpful hints from his brother-in-law to be. He wanted to be in a band as soon as possible, and that’s exactly what happened…

“Me joining my first band still cracks me up! Believe it or not, it happened about a month after I started playing! I was real stiff when it came to single note stuff but I could do barre chords real good. I also had an ear for music because one of my sisters used to plunk around on the piano, and all three of ’em used to listen to Motown and stuff like that. Even though dance music is not my thing, there’s a lot of melody there and I was always picking them out. I can’t say that if someone just hits a key on a piano I’ll be able to ‘name that tune’, but my exposure to stuff by Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Al Green definitely helped develop my musical ear.”

Being well and truly hooked on the instrument, it wasn’t long before Dave moved on to an electric guitar, a Gibson SG.

“The acoustic my mom gave me got broken. My second sister smashed it over my back after I got her into a bunch of trouble! So when I was 16 I got the SG. Then about a year after that, I trashed the SG and started playing a Les Paul. When I first got an electric, pretty much any noise I made on it sounded good to me. Then I started to realize how shitty what I was doing actually did sound, and that’s when I got into trying to teach myself something different.”

Dave’s initial influences were “early Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, and the stuff Mick Ronson did when David Bowie was really happening. I also liked some Mott The Hoople stuff – not all of it, but some of their material was cool. Later on I got into Deep Purple, Montrose and stuff like that. The rock music that was really strong towards the end of the 70’s was basically what I listened to. I really liked Kiss back then – Ace Frehley I thought was God-like in the beginning. I also liked what Michael Schenker played, up until he burnt himself out.”

Mustaine also drew inspiration from an unlikely source – in view of what Megadeth’s own music is like – in Paul McCartney.

“I don’t understand him because he’s capable of coming up with really great stuff, such as Like A Wheel – Let Me Roll It To You. As soon as I heard that song I had to learn it. Then, the next thing you know, he’s doing rubbish with Michael Jackson.”

I wonder what Mustaine listens to nowadays…Yngwie Malmsteen maybe?

“Which Yngwie? There are so many of him out there you can’t tell them apart. No, I don’t really listen to him. I liked what Randy Rhoads did, a lot. I was really into the Blizzard when they first came out. I like listening to music that makes you want to hang out with friends and have a good time – like Fear for example. I’m not into John McLaughlin and crap like that…I mean, I can appreciate it, but I don’t really like it. I prefer stuff that’s more Motorhead-ish and energetic. I really liked Diamond Head a lot.”

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