Set to launch in late July, Gigantour is a six-week festival trek co-headlined by Megadeth and Dream Theatre, who'll be accompanied by other mainstage acts Fear Factory, Dillinger Escape Plan and Nevermore. Artists for the second stage will be announced in the coming weeks.
Gigantour follows Megadeth’s sold-out 2004 “Blackmail The Universe” Tour in support of 2004’s The System Has Failed (Megadeths’s tenth studio album) that debuted on the charts at #18 and was critically hailed as a brilliant return to form. Bandmates Glen Drover (guitar), James MacDonough (bass) and Shawn Drover (drums) will once again join Mustaine on the road.
Gigantour - whose moniker was inspired by the classic 1960’s cartoon “Gigantor”, will criss-cross North America, with stops in amphitheatres and arenas in cities including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Denver and Minneapolis, among others. The tour is implementing the “fan friendly” ticket price of approximately $35 each. Mustaine notes: “I think people may want an affordable alternative to the choices out there--along the lines of a pure music festival--like Monsters of Rock or Clash of the Titans.”
Mustaine handpicked the bands for Gigantour, with a focus on musicianship. “There are few very successful tours out each summer and in order to be significant, I knew the first Gigantour had to make an impact with top bands like Dream Theatre, Fear Factory, Dillinger Escape Plan and Nevermore.” Mustaine wanted to “put together a festival that consisted of positive bands that play heavy music in a high energy environment.”
Mustaine comments on the other bands he’s chosen for the Gigantour mainstage. “I think that the variety of playing styles and the credibility of the different players is really exciting. I’m looking forward to spending time with Dream Theatre (including my friend Mike Portnoy) while on the road. I think Dream Theatre is unbelievably talented. I can’t wait to see what their set list is going to be for this festival.”
Mike Portnoy from Dream Theatre comments on the band’s perspective on the tour. “I think we probably bring some diversity to the bill, because we’re kind of like chameleons--we can fit into a lot of different situations. We’ve done shows in the past with Iron Maiden, Slayer and Pantera, and then we’ve also done shows with Elton John, Yes and Deep Purple. I think our fan base is very diverse like that too.” Portnoy sees Gigantour as a “kind of a meeting of musicians and metal-heads.” He adds: “I’ve been listening to Megadeth since day one and always admired them and Dave as an artist--he’s constantly stuck to his guns and stuck by the music he believes in. Megadeth are one of the pioneers of the genre.” Gigantour marks the first U.S. leg of Dream Theatre dates in support of their forthcoming release Octavarium, due out June 7 on Atlantic Records.
Mustaine first toured with Fear Factory in 1994. “I think Fear Factory and Dillinger Escape Plan are really going to add something different to the tour and bring some new people in.” He continues, “The frontman of Nevermore [Warrell Dane] used to be in a band called Sanctuary and I produced their first record.”
Mustaine is excited to hit the road and has a positive outlook for Gigantour. “I look forward to watching this develop over the years and seeing how we can turn this into something that’s going to stand the test of time. And if this works, and it really works, maybe we’ll take it elsewhere.”
In early 2002, Dave Mustaine suffered a debilitating nerve injury to his arm (literally after sleeping on it the wrong way), bringing his career--and the nearly 20-year history of his band, Megadeth to a crashing halt. His prospects for playing guitar again uncertain, Mustaine retreated into seclusion, effectively ending the band and leaving behind a ten-album legacy as one of metal's most important, innovative, and intelligent acts. But the story did not end there, and it seemed undeniable that the long, colorful, and dynamic history of such a relentless and groundbreaking act could be curtailed so abruptly.
Now in 2004, 'The System Has Failed', the tenth studio album released under the Megadeth banner, is set for release September 14 on Sanctuary Records. The forthcoming first single "Die Dead Enough"--set to arrive at radio on June 26 --features a stalking rhythm and urgent riff alongside an infectious chorus and a taste of strings adding texture and depth. Look for Megadeth (with returning drummer Nick Menza) to tour this fall in support of the album (dates TBA) as well as their soon-to-be-reissued catalog of platinum and gold albums (due July 27 on Capitol Records), which has been impressively remixed, remastered, restored--and in some cases reconstructed--by founder, singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Dave Mustaine to bring it as close to his original vision as possible.
'The System Has Failed' is pure, unfiltered, uncompromising Megadeth. The album is a virtual compendium of everything that made and continues to make Megadeth one of the most unique entities ever in the history of heavy rock. From opener "Blackmail The Universe," with its classic, chugging riff, to the politically charged, turbulent "Kick The Chair," to the painfully personal "Truth Be Told," this is a record that could only be written by one person, with one singular worldview.
Mustaine selected nearly a dozen songs from some 150 that he had compiled over the years, keeping them under wraps for the ideal opportunity. With members of Megadeth's best-known lineup (which lasted from 1990's Rust In Peace to '97's Cryptic Writings) either unable to appear due to scheduling issues, or unwilling to meet the demands of Mustaine's vision for the record, the singer and guitarist cast away all preconceptions and recruited bassist Jimmie Sloas and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Co-producing with Jeff Balding, who had engineered Cryptic Writings and 1999's Risk, Mustaine took an approach to recording that he found liberating. "I took a real casual pace with this album. We started out working about three hours a night, four days a week. I know this is such a cliché, but it was like being reborn. I don't have three other guys that I'm gonna disappoint if I don't listen to their stuff. I was in there calling the shots and it was a lot like when (the band's first two albums) 'Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good!' and 'Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?' first came out. It was me making my music, I had guys in the band listening to me, and I was the boss."
One amazing surprise for longtime Megadeth fans would have to be the presence of original guitarist Chris Poland, who played on those first two albums and contributed lead work to nearly every cut on 'The System Has Failed'. "It was so much fun having Chris come down and play," says Mustaine. "He's a great person and there's a reason why we took a fork in the road back then. When he came in and listened to this record, I didn't know what to expect from him. I didn't know if he was gonna listen and say, 'I'm not digging this,' or whatever, because he's all into his jazz-fusion stuff. But he gave me a really great compliment, because he said somewhere, 'some of you guys are gonna have to break out your slide rulers, because this is definitely Rust In Peace-type music.'"
1990's 'Rust In Peace', Megadeth's fourth album and possibly most successful after '92's 'Countdown To Extinction' (which charted at Number Two on Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart), is held by many fans as the gold standard against which all Megadeth releases are judged, for its heaviness, intricacy, and tunefulness. "Everybody's wanted me to make Rust In Peace 2, and I don't think I did," says Mustaine with his usual candor. "But I think what I did was make an album that was a natural progression from Rust In Peace."
That progression is evident on 'The System Has Failed'. "Back In The Day" delves into one of Mustaine's many influences, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, with its galloping guitar work and frenetic tempo. Album closer "My Kingdom Come," meanwhile, sounds like no other band out there. Its doom-laden, sinister beginning gives way to another vintage, crunchy Megadeth riff, before descending into a haunting, almost Eastern finale. Lyrically, Mustaine is back with some of his sharpest political and social commentary yet, cooking up a nightmare nuclear crisis in "Blackmail The Universe," tackling criminal justice in "Kick The Chair," and painting a picture of ticking international tensions in "The Scorpion." It's Mustaine at his songwriting best, making electrifying, incisive new metal while refusing to stick to any single formula.
"I think that I've been able to transcend some of the pigeonholing that takes place with a hard rock band," agrees the maestro. "The head of my record company said something to me that really lit a fire under my butt. He said, 'Back when you wrote Rust In Peace, you owned heavy metal. That flag was yours. It's time for you to go back and claim that flag.' I'm excited that there really isn't anything out there that I believe can compete with this record. I think I really have a chance of making a statement."
That statement will be heard around the world on September 14, when 'The System Has Failed' arrives in stores, and after that, when Mustaine takes Megadeth out on the road for the first time in three years. Fans can expect some surprises as well in the touring lineup. "I can't wait to play again and have it be about fun," says Mustaine. "Towards the end, the music became a lot about formula. It became so predictable. I'm looking forward to things being unpredictable, and things being fun and just going for it." The system may have indeed failed, but Dave Mustaine and Megadeth is alive and well and firing on all cylinders.
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