For Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover, getting to perform the metal band’s “Countdown to Extinction” album in its entirety pleases both the musician — and fan — inside him.
“As a fan of Megadeth, this is one of my favorite records,” says Drover, who had not yet joined the band at the time of the album’s 1992 release.
“It’s such a cohesive record. It’s very solid and to the point — it’s a lot of fun to play those songs.”
“Countdown” will occupy most of Megadeth’s set 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, but there still will be time for some of the band’s greatest hits.
Megadeth, which guitarist Dave Mustaine founded in 1983 after departing Metallica, is one of the most commercially successful bands in the metal genre. The group’s best-known songs include “Holy Wars ... The Punishment Due,” “Peace Sells” and “Prince of Darkness.”
“We try to squeeze everything we can in the parameters of that 90 minutes,” Drover says. “Fans will walk away feeling quite satisfied.”
The centerpiece of the show will be “Countdown,” some of whose tracks have never been performed live before this tour. The band’s most successful release to date features such hits as “Symphony of Destruction,” “Foreclosure of a Dream” and “Sweating Bullets.”
“It’s been a lot of fun going back and getting reacquainted with songs I haven’t heard in a while,” Drover says.
Megadeth, whose lineup once again includes founding bassist Dave Ellefson, makes a point of not fixing what isn’t broken when performing its material live.
The songs are “very, very close to the record by and large,” Drover says.
However, there is one track — “The Conjuring” — that no longer jives with Mustaine’s status as a born-again Christian.
The song from 1986’s “Peace Sells ... But Who’s Buying” makes references to black magic and the occult that Mustaine now finds objectionable.
“The subject matter lyrically is very dark, and he’s not comfortable singing it,” Drover says. “Ironically, it’s one of my favorite tracks. You have to respect that if someone’s not comfortable with that. Pretty much everything out of our catalog, we can pull out and play.”
At the same time, Mustaine over the years has peppered shows with personal political commentary, ranging from a late ’80s remark at a show in Northern Ireland in support of the the Irish Republican Army that led to a riot breaking out to his more recent embrace of conservative Republican causes. The latter includes his voicing support at a concert last summer for the (mistaken) belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.
Whatever opinions Mustaine expresses, according to Drover, are strictly his own.
“He doesn’t speak for the band,” Drover says.
As Megadeth revisits its past in concert, the band is prepping for a return to the studio to follow up “Thirteen” (Roadrunner), which came out last year.
The band, which brought back Ellefson for “13,” is eager to stay on a regular recording schedule.
“If a record comes out in the summer of 2013, it will be a little more than two years,” Drover says. “We don’t want to wait too long. We try to keep it cranked up pretty good, in terms of releasing new material.”
With the actual studio sessions not set to begin until early next year, the project is very much in the idea stage.
“There are all kinds of ideas bouncing around,” Drover says. “We’re in the midst of listening to what we have and seeing which riffs and songs to put together. We don’t go in with any preconceived notions of how a song is going to sound. We just want to create the best material we can and hope fans love it as much as we do. If you go in with preconceived notions, it’s not organic. We never try to copy anything we’ve done in the past.”
Feuding days are over
Back in their ’80s and ’90s heyday, Megadeth — and in particular its co-founder Dave Mustaine — were known for their trash talking back and forth with Metallica, Slayer and other heavy metal rivals.
Mustaine, whose 1983 dismissal from Metallica led to his forming Megadeth, was particularly fired up about some of his former bandmates.
Today, “all that hogwash is definitely a thing of the past,” according to Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover.
Megadeth in 2010 and 2011 put aside whatever differences remained for the worldwide “Big Four” tour with Slayer, Anthrax and Metallica.
“The camaraderie was fantastic,” Drover recalls. “We’re friends with those guys now. Certainly, with the Big Four, there was a celebration of the bands coming together. The reaction was amazing. The whole vibe was a positive vibe. I would love to do it again. Whether that happens again remains to be seen. Anything is possible at any given time.”