Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield aren’t exactly buds, but they’re not quite enemies either. In a new interview with Guitar.com, the Megadeth frontman revealed that he and Hetfield had actually been planning on doing a project together at some point, and that’s the last time they had a conversation.
Mustaine has never held back on speaking his mind, and during the interview he was asked whether this outspokenness has had an effect on his career at all.
“There’s three sides to every story, right. There’s my side, there would be the other person’s side, and then there would be the truth, which is somewhere right in the middle,” he said. “You know, oddly enough that was one of the last conversations I ever had with James Hetfield because we were talking about getting back together and doing a project.”
“Something had come up about the publishing discrepancy that we have been arguing about for years and years and years, and I told James, ‘I’ll do it but we’ve got to get this stuff sorted out first.’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’”
It’s not exactly clear when the conversation about this project took place, but the “publishing discrepancy” Mustaine referred to was likely over the reissue of Metallica‘s 1982 demo No Life ‘Til Leather, which was recorded when he was still the band’s lead guitarist. The reissue, which was to be an expanded version of the original, was shelved around 2018 because Mustaine and Lars Ulrich couldn’t come to an agreement over the songwriting credits.
“So I said,” Mustaine continued to Guitar.com, “‘Now these two songs you and me split, 50/50. Lars didn’t write on this song – you know that. I don’t know why you gave him percentages but I’m not. I’m not going to sign another deal that’s gonna confirm that because I never agreed to that.’”
“And James said, ‘Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,’ and I said that’s fine — there’s his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere. And that blew his mind, and we haven’t talked since. You know, I was trying to be really friendly with him. He told me that the last three projects they did bombed, and they wanted to go back and use all the stuff that I was on, and I said sure. As soon as I said that ‘three stories’ bit, it was over!”
A collaboration between Mustaine and Hetfield may not be off the table, though, as the former admitted in late September that he eventually wants to work with the Metallica frontman again.
“I have been secretly hoping there’d be a day where James [Hetfield] and I can write together again,” Mustaine confessed to Andrew Daly of Vinyl Writer Music. “I think the world really does want us to do that, and I think there is a pretty good possibility of it happening down the line.”