SW: There is a lot of variety on this has the fast 'n' furious thrashers, the slow, melodic tunes, and even some songs with a full string orchestra...It's definitely not your stereotypical heavy metal record!
DE: During the three year period between Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings, an entire genre of music pretty much came and went, like grunge, which now is pretty much dead...and, of course, alternative music. And I like some of the new alternative music out there; to me, a lot of it is pretty much straight ahead rock music. And it's really no wonder why alternative music took off the way it did. A lot of people say, "Oh man, heavy metal is dying"...well, who's to blame for that? Look at a lot of the bands out there who were trying to play heavy metal music! They regressed...they didn't move forward. And that's the only way I see it for heavy metal to get back into the forefront of modern music. Good music is good music, and it doesn't really matter what category you fit into. I'm hoping that there will be a whole new movement of heavier bands that will have some musical and songwriting ability. That's what made the bands like Iron Maiden, Ozzy, and Judas Priest so classic...they could actually write songs!

SW: Megadeth also kept moving forward album after've avoided to repeat yourselves.
DE: And I'm really glad about that. During the time we were heading into the Countdown... era (1992), it was like the crossroads for heavy metal bands, and we saw a lot of other bands that, perhaps, didn't have the guidance or the forethought. It just seemed like heavy metal as a whole regressed, everyone wanted to be harder and faster than the next, with the singer barking like a dog (laughs).

SW: I totally agree...And I think that really attributed to the decline of heavy metal music. It got split into two of which you described - all the hardcore death/thrash metal bands trying to outdo each other, and the other extreme were the "hair" bands who weren't even metal to begin with!
DE: We're a very musical group, and our primary love of music is definitely hard-rock and heavy metal, it's what we enjoy listening to and it's what we enjoy playing. But, in order to keep metal alive, you gotta keep thinking forward and moving ahead. And that's what I'm personally very happy about with Cryptic Writings...we've maintained our genuine sound, yet we're able to move forward into new directions without turning our back to what we're known for. And I think our fans really respect us for that. Even back when Dave (Mustaine) first laid down the vocal tracks on Killing Is My Business..., I was impressed with the fact that the music was so heavy, but the vocals were memorable and had catchy melodies.

SW: Dave Mustaine's lyrics seem a lot more personal on this CD - particularly the track "Use The Man." Is that song about Dave's past heroin addiction?
DE: Actually, that song was written about someone we knew at a drug addiction facility who shot up some dope and died. When we did the demos, we only had a handful of lyrics written; Dave actually wrote a lot of the lyrics while we were in the studio. But, yeah...I think the lyrics are more personal on this record. I remember the first time I read Dave's lyrics, like a week or two after I met him, and I thought, "Damn these are really good lyrics." He wasn't just some guy who played guitar and tried to put words together. And seeing his lyrics develop...I think anyone, of any age group, and who listens to any style of music, can relate to the lyrics on Cryptic Writings.

SW: I think Megadeth has always written very thought-provoking lyrics; especially the title track to Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? That song was brilliant!
DE: I remember the day it was written. Dave and I were picking up Gar (their old drummer - Ed.) on our way to remember that old van we used to have? (laughs) Anyway, Dave asked me, "What do you think about 'Peace Sells...But Who's Buying' for a song idea?" We then went to our rehearsal studio and he wrote the chorus, we rehearsed it a couple of times and - BAM! Within a couple hours the song was pretty much was one of those magical moments.

SW: That song - especially the video for that song - was totally groundbreaking. A lot of the scenes in that video, such as the footage from political riots and the flashing "$" symbol, were used long before bands like Rage Against The Machine, Ministry, and even Guns & Roses used that type of "political message" in their really took music videos to the next level...
DE: It's funny...we used Robert Longo to direct that video, and he wasn't even a director, he was an artist. So, coming from a conceptual point of view, he had a much cooler idea than these guys who were professional video directors!

SW: I understand your first single from this CD, "Trust", was actually a #1 song on Rock radio throughout the U.S., yet radio in L.A. still refuses to play Megadeth!
MF: Yeah, it was the #1 Active Rock track in America. Los Angeles is really a separate doesn't really blend in with the Chicagos, the Phoenixs, and the Clevelands, which is pretty much what real America is all about. What you hear on the radio in L.A. is not representative of the what's really going on in America. But L.A. has always been a good market for us to play live, and we have a lot of great fans in Los Angeles, and I really do feel bad for them since they can't hear any good heavy rock bands on the radio.
DE: Here's the thing...we've had songs played on the radio before, like "Angry Again" and "Symphony Of Destruction"...never to the extent of the airplay we've received on Cryptic Writings, but we've had moderate radio exposure. Radio has really saved the day for us; both the songs "Trust" and "Almost Honest" were the #1 most added songs for Rock radio. And the cool thing is, if Megadeth could be played back to back with alternative bands and other mainstream bands, I think that is good, not just for Megadeth, but for heavy metal as a whole.

SW: Megadeth headlined the ROCKSTOCK '97 festival in Chicago late last summer. Opening the show were about twelve or so mostly alternative bands, such as Cracker, Veruca Salt, Silverchair, Days Of The New, and The Nixons. It's pretty ironic that the media continuously claims that heavy rock/metal is dead, and here we have some of the "hippest" new bands from around the world supporting Megadeth!
MF: Chicago has always been a great town for us. There were close to 30,000 kids at that show, and a lot of those kids maybe did come to see those alternative bands, but a lot of them came to see us. Despite this "metal is dead" attitude from a lot of people, the fact is, it's always been there, and it'll always be there; it just goes through phases of popularity. Fans of heavy metal and aggressive rock are true to their cause; I don't think they're all of the sudden gonna turn into "techno freaks" or "disco freaks" just because it may be popular or trendy. Fans of heavy metal love and enjoy the music, even if it's considered "uncool," or if certain people think metal fans are idiots...that's just all part of the whole stigma. But, once the populace decides that metal is once again "cool," then the metal kids and bands will be right back on top. The kids and metal music never go away, it's the fashions that come and go.

Megadeth Part 3