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Dave Mustaine Of Megadeth

Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine Says A Publishing Dispute Killed A Project He And Metallica’s James Hetfield Had Been Planning Together


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It would appear that Megadeth frontman/guitarist Dave Mustaine and Metallica vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield had been planning to work on a project together several years ago — that is until a publishing dispute spiked the whole matter. That dispute in question stems from songwriting credits back when Mustaine was still a member of Metallica.

If you recall, unspecified legal issues forced Metallica to scrap their “No Life ‘Til Leather” box set back in 2016. Mustaine later gave his version of that dispute in 2018, telling RockHard:

“I’m not gonna give him [Lars] my credit, so I’m not gonna be part of it. I wrote all of ‘Mechanix‘, I wrote all of ‘Jump In The Fire‘, so me giving any percentage of that to Lars Ulrich, he can pound sand. And as far as the song ‘Phantom Lord‘, I wrote every note of that music, James [Hetfield] wrote all the lyrics. That’s 50/50. If James wants to give his percentage up to Lars because he’s afraid of him, that’s up to him.

I’m not afraid of Lars Ulrich, and I’m not giving him my percentage. And the same thing with ‘Metal Militia‘; I wrote every single note of that music, James wrote every note of that lyric — that’s 50/50. If James wants to give Lars his percentage, that’s fine if he’s afraid of him. I’m not afraid of him. I’m not giving nothing to Lars Ulrich.

Now, they took it in the past — everybody knows that — and the past is the past. But I could not willingly enter into a new agreement with these guys predicated on Lars getting credit for something that not only he did not do but he was incapable of doing — he was incapable of writing songs that good back then.”

Given that development and years of well-document baggage and barbs, it was a bit of a surprise that Mustaine stated earlier this year that he hopes to one day write again with Hetfield. Speaking recently to Guitar.com, Mustaine opened up about an apparent project he and Hetfield had been pursuing, and how the aforementioned royalty dispute derailed it.

When asked about his reputation for being outspoken and whether he feels it has hindered or benefitted him over the years, Mustaine replied:

“There’s three sides to every story, right. There’s my side, there would be the other person’s side, and then there would be the truth which is somewhere right in the middle. You know, oddly enough that was one of the last conversations I ever had with James Hetfield because we were talking about getting back together and doing a project.

Something had come up about the publishing discrepancy that we have been arguing about for years and years and years, and I told James, ‘I’ll do it but we’ve got to get this stuff sorted out first’. And he said, ‘Oh yeah, sure’.

So I said, ‘Now these two songs you and me split, 50/50. Lars didn’t write on this song – you know that. I don’t know why you gave him percentages but I’m not. I’m not going to sign another deal that’s gonna confirm that because I never agreed to that’.

And James said, ‘Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,’ and I said that’s fine; there’s his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere. And that blew his mind, and we haven’t talked since. You know, I was trying to be really friendly with him; he told me that the last three projects they did bombed, and they wanted to go back and use all the stuff that I was on, and I said sure. As soon as I said that ‘three stories’ bit, it was over!”

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