Nick Menza

Nick Menza

Life After ‘Deth

How’s this for job security? Three days after having surgery to remove a benign tumor from his knee, Megadeth drummer Nick Menza got a call from singer and Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine saying he’s been fired after four Megadeth albums, and ten years of service — a change that Dave iterated in various press releases and internet postings was a long time in coming due to the fact that Megadeth’s relationship with Menza had “run its course.”

“He too recognized that things were over,” Dave posted on the band’s website on July 12th, an utter surprise to Menza who was urged by Mustaine to have the cyst removed. All the while, Mustaine gave Nick the impression that his job would be preserved for safe-keeping until his return, but former Alice Cooper basher Jimmy DeGrasso would soon nab the coveted spot.

“There was no backstabbing,” Mustaine insisted. Yet Menza says that he was given “zero” notice, and was particularly put off by Mustaine’s lack of emotion. “I considered those guys to be my second family… Those guys were my brothers. I didn’t get one phone call from them. Marty called me before my surgery to wish me good luck, and that was it. That was cool of him. Nobody else called, and no one’s called since then. Dave called me twice, once to fire me, and the second time afterward to see how I was doing because he knew I was upset after the first time we talked. I didn’t really say anything. I was like, ‘Thanks for calling.’ There was nothing to say.”

Maybe the relationship had run its course, considering Menza likened his trying to contribute songs to Megadeth to “pulling teeth.”

“Believe me. I tried to do as much as I could,” he affirms. “I wanted to write full songs, and it just wasn’t going to happen. Look at what the other guys contributed. I had tons of ideas… My attitude suffered because of that. ‘Who is anyone to dictate whose songs are good and whose aren’t?’ The leader of the band. If he doesn’t like your songs, they’re not going to get used — period. Most of the stuff I wrote on is collaboration with Dave, which is fine. I understood it was Dave’s band. That’s the way it goes… Dave’s been a great teacher for me. He’s fueled my fire.”

In fact, it is that very feeling that has inspired the title, Fuel for the Fire, Menza’s new solo “art project” in the works with Megadeth producer Max Norman. Shooting for the album’s availability on his website, http://www.menza.com, by early October, Menza is hoping that Fuel will show fans that he’s an accomplished musician who can play other instruments, including the bass, guitar, and keyboards, as well as write songs.

“It’s something I want to get off my chest,” he says, noting that some of the songs, like the crushing “Godspeed,” are as heavy as Megadeth, while others have “huge vocals, five-part harmonies” and “weird grooves” in 6/4 time, a combination of “Rush meets Led Zeppelin meets Pink Floyd meets Slayer meets Yanni.”

“It’s going to be very different from Megadeth,” Nick assures. “I hope fans aren’t too put out by it… I come from the definite classic rock school of music. I’m totally going for a Led Zeppelin approach. I’ve listen to Physical Graffiti. That would be my comparison as a record… I’ve got a lot of support from the fans. People do care. The fans are awesome. That’s another reason I’m putting out this record, for the fans, and for my own sanity.’ Yes, I can write songs.”

As for DeGrasso taking his place, Nick says, “He’s a great drummer. I’ve known Jimmy for years. Jimmy played on Dave’s solo record. There was already a rapport with those two guys. What can I say? I wish him the best. He’s about to embark on a nice little journey.”

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