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Interview with Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover

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When you’re talking about the top five metal bands of all time, few would argue with the fact that Megadeth is among the best of all time. The legendary Dave Mustaine started this band now over twenty-five years ago and even today they are still going strong. Although Mustaine has changed the band’s lineup several times over the years, he seems to be quite content with the current lineup featuring Chris Broderick, James Lomenzo and Montreal’s own Shawn Drover taking care of drumming duties. The group is currently in the process of mixing and mastering its latest album called Endgame which is set to be released on September 15th. Recently we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak to Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover about what it’s like being in one of the biggest metal bands of all time, what it’s like working with Dave and what we can expect from the new record.

You’ve been in Megadeth now for just about five years. How did you first meet Dave and eventually get asked to join the group?
Shawn: Well I met Dave through Glen who’s my brother, he was with Dave when he first formed the band, Glen was the first guy to get in the band, with the reformation of Megadeth. He had the gig about a month before I got the call and that’s kind of how it filtered through. Once, you know, he had Nick Menza in the band and it didn’t work out for whatever reason so Dave and Glen talked about it and said “hey what do you think about calling Sean?” So that’s kind of how it went down, this was right before the tour started, about six days before the tour started so it was a real quick thing and the next thing I know I was in a plane to Arizona to go to rehearsals. So that’s initially how I met Dave.

What was it like for you to initially adjust to being in one of the biggest metal bands of all time? Was it at all difficult to adjust?
Shawn: Not really and the reason being was because of the situation, like when Glen got in the band, he had a month to prepare and soak it all in and be like “yeah I’m the guitar player for Megadeth!” I was so excited for Glen when he got the gig, I was just you know, they’re such a big band like you suggest so for me when I got the call, I had to learn songs that were on the new album that I’d never heard before and certain tracks from records that I didn’t know from later on in the ‘90s. So I didn’t really have a chance to start freaking out going “oh my god, I’m in Megadeth!” It kind of sunk in later which actually kind of worked out well for me, you know what I mean? I would rather have done it exactly the way it went down, just jump into it, go on tour, rehearse right away and then let it sink all in later once it’s all going down.

Megadeth is currently getting set to embark on the Canadian Carnage Tour with Slayer, Machine Head and Suicide Silence. How did the tour and this line-up come together in the first place?
Shawn: You know that’s a good question. That’s probably something, some kind of business thing with management and I’m not involved with all of that stuff. All I can say about that is that I’m really glad it’s happening, it’s been a long time coming and I think a lot of fans are really going to be happy with this line-up you know? I think it’s going to be great.

We’re actually a website out of Toronto, Ontario and I know you’re from Montreal. Do you ever get back up to Canada in your free time?
Shawn: Absolutely, my whole family lives up in Toronto, right in the Mississauga area so I’m up there quite a bit, several times during the year. When I’m on tour of course we stop in, so yeah absolutely, of course I get up there.

What kind of set-list can we expect for the upcoming tour? Is it going to be older material or more of a combination?
Shawn: For the Canadian Carnage shows? I can’t answer that right now because we’re still right in the middle of getting to that point where we’re going to discuss that. We’re going to do rehearsals for the tour and go over what we want to do, what we want to change and all that stuff. So as I speak on the phone right now I really don’t know, but you know, I’d think it would be slightly different from what we did on the previous world tour. Yeah, it’s going to be interesting, I’m excited about knowing as well you know, just like anybody else so we’ll have to stay tuned for that.

Now I’ve read that Megadeth’s twelfth studio album is very close to being completed in the studio. Can you let us in on any news about its sound or what we can expect?
Shawn: Well it’s completed, the tracks are recorded and it’s being mixed and mastered as we speak. It’s that close to being one hundred percent done and then you know we deliver it to the record company and all of that stuff. What does it sound like? You know, to me, it sounds like a good solid Megadeth metal record you know. From what I’m hearing, there seems to be a little bit for everybody you know, a lot of different elements that Megadeth has done in the past and um, I think a lot of fans are really going to dig it. Whether you’re a fan of heavy, fast, thrashy stuff or more mid-tempo stuff or slower stuff whatever it is, slower or heavier stuff, it’s got a little bit of everything in there.

What’s perhaps different about this new forthcoming record compared to your last record United Abominations?
Shawn: It’s just, you know like any other Megadeth record, not two Megadeth records sound the same. You can’t name two Megadeth records that sound similar can you? I really think that this is just another offering from the band, you know, um it’s just got a lot of great metal songs on it, sonically I think it sounds amazing, the songs are really well arranged... It’s a heavy record so uh, I think it’s great so hopefully a lot of people will share that opinion, but that remains to be seen. You know again, I don’t like to refer it to any other record, you gotta keep moving, you can’t rely on the past, you gotta keep moving forward. So all I can say is it’s a good, solid, sonic metal record, it’s a good record.

Now how involved are you, James and Chris involved in the writing, recording and production process? Do you take an active role helping Dave write the songs?
Shawn: Sure I mean the bulk of the material is written by Dave, I mean that’s nothing new, it’s always been like that. But a lot of it was broken down into parts, old riffs, new riffs, there was a lot of stuff on file, it was a Pandora’s box of metal riffs is what I like to call it and there was so much good stuff that we would say “well hey, why don’t we put that part with that or let’s put those two together and let’s go in to the warehouse and jam out some new stuff and maybe we can fit something into that part.” You know what I mean? It was a kind of putting the pieces of the puzzle together to make all these songs. It was really interesting, but yeah we all had input and made opinions on it, Dave would say “what do you think about this, what do you think about that, do you like this, do you like that...” So it’s a collaborative effort but it does all stem from the riffs and songs that Dave writes.

To produce the new album, you worked with none other than ex-Sabbat guitarist Andy Sneap. How did Andy come to get involved in this project and what’s it been like working with him?
Shawn: Well Andy came in on the last record towards the end, once we changed producers; Andy came in and finished off the record with us. So we kind of got a taste of what he was like as a producer and a person and we found out when we worked with him back then that we really got along well and we all shared the same opinions and views on what we wanted to see happening. So it was a no brainer, once we were talking about who we wanted to produce the next record, it was never a question, Andy was always going to be the guy. Right from the get-go, once we started this new record, we all just got along great and you know, once again we shared the same vision of what we wanted to happen. Andy was really involved too in, like what I was talking about a minute ago, listening to the riffs and suggesting ideas, you know “what do you think about putting that riff with that riff..” he was involved in that whole process as well so it was a real collaborative effort with all that. He was a joy to work with, he was just a great guy and a great producer.

Over the years, Dave has gotten a bad rap at times in the press for having feuds with other bands and being difficult to work with. What’s your take on all of this? Is it just the press looking for a headline?
Shawn: Well I think the press perpetuates those headlines don’t they? When you’re asking questions, twenty-seven and twenty-eight years later you know to Dave about Lars and Metallica, that’s just people starting shit or they’re not doing research so I don’t pay any attention to that at all. You know, all I can say from my experience personally, right from the get go, I’ve had a great time with him, he wants things done with the utmost professionalism and he wants things executed as perfectly as possible... But I’m the same way and I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. Maybe that’s why we’ve gotten along so well is because we kind of want the same thing. It’s like if I came in to the band and was a twenty year old punk who just wanted to do drugs and get wasted you know, all that rock and roll bullshit that’s been done, maybe it would have been different. But my whole mindset since joining this band has been that I want to be as professional as possible and maintain the integrity of Megadeth. I think I’ve done that very well and he appreciates it and we just share the same vision in a lot of ways of what we want to do with this band so it’s been quite easy for me.

Aside from being in Megadeth, you’ve also enjoyed a lot of success with your own band Eidolon. What’s going on with the band currently? Can we expect anything new anytime soon?
Shawn: No I don’t think so; I think we’ve put that band on the shelf for a while. It’s difficult to go back after being in a band as successful as Megadeth and with the hardships we had with Eidolon you know, not selling a lot of records, you realize that it really does suck not selling a lot of records, you know what I mean? You bust your ass to make records, I mean we worked hard on all of those records and really tried to do the best we could with what we had. The end result sales wise was always abysmal so it really wears you down, or it certainly wore me and Glen down after a while, you know we’re thinking “why are we busting our asses for nothing here?” Having said that, if it wasn’t for Eidolon, we wouldn’t be in Megadeth so that’s kind of how we got the call, when Glen got the call to be in Megadeth it was because the people who Dave sent out to search for musicians for the band, they recommended Glen based on Eidolon. So it really did serve a purpose but that doesn’t make me want to go back next year and record another Eidolon record and have it sell, you know ten thousand copies worldwide. That’s not fun for me, you know what I mean? I did my time of putting out a lot of records that didn’t sell. If I’m going to do a project you know, moving forward, doing something else, maybe with some friends, just a fun project outside of Megadeth. My focus is on Megadeth, it takes up a lot of my time and I’m pretty content with that.

After the Canadian tour, what does Megadeth have planned for the rest of 2009 into 2010?
Shawn: Well once the record is released, that’s when the world tour will start. You really can’t go out before that, you can’t go out two months before your album comes out, you know “here’s four songs from the new record that you haven’t heard yet...” From what I think, nothing is set in stone but I think once the record does come out later this year, I’m sure there will be a massive world tour planned for it and that’s what we’ll do, we’ll focus on touring for that record. We’ll focus on getting out there and playing as many shows for as many people as possible, just like we always do.  [ END ]
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