Mustaine says “chronic whiplash” performances have damaged most thrash bands over the years – but celebrates new incarnation of Megadeth
Dave Mustaine says headbanging has brought pain all thrash musicians – and he compares the act to giving yourself chronic whiplash.
The Megadeth mainman recently underwent surgery for a neck and spine condition known as stenosis, after struggling through the pain barrier to complete the band’s US Mayhem Festival tour.
He tells Decibel: “I knew I was hurt, but I didn’t know how bad. Nobody knew the writing was on the wall.
“I pretty much thought, ‘Well, I’m hurt, but I’ll just take it easy, have a couple of glasses of wine. I’ll get through it, get a couple of trigger point injections, get an epidural.’
“There were a couple of times they gave me a shot in my neck that numbed me up. I saw chiropractors and masseuses all the time.
“It inevitably gets to the point where you’re starting to take medication, and that’s never good because if you’re taking something you never feel the pain.”
Mustaine believes many thrash artists could tell similar stories of neck problems, and it’s to do with the way headbanging became part of performing the music.
“I’m an athlete, as a guitar player and an onstage persona,” he says. “I don’t think most musicians, when they start playing music, think that they’re going to be playing this demanding-type music that those of us who are part of the Big 4, and all the bands we influenced, created.
“That whole headbanging thing that came around – it’s hurt a lot of us. What is headbanging anyway? It’s kind of like chronic whiplash syndrome, isn’t it?”
He’ss well on the road to recovery, while fellow Big 4 frontman Tom Araya of Slayer now has metal plates in his neck which prevent him from headbanging ever again.
But despite his health issues, Mustaine says everything is good with him and his band.
“Megadeth has given me so much joy and taken care of my family, and given us a really comfortable and really truly magnificent life,” he reflects. “I totally got the feeling right now that this is my season.
“Now it’s like, I can’t wait to take the stage. I feel like a caged lion right now.”