Lisa recently spotlighted a music video for a Megadeth song called Hanger 18. In that post she mentioned that she didn’t really know much about them except that the song fit World UFO Day. Because of that, I feel I need to provide what little backstory I know about them.
When I was a kid I remember seeing the album Countdown To Extinction in the store. I remember it to this day–not because I was listening to them at the time, but because of that cover.
I saw that, and figured this band was not for me. I was a child at the time. I didn’t really get into heavy metal till I went to Cal in 2007. I knew some of the big bands, and had probably heard music they had done, but that was about it. The only band I remember having an album for in the 90s was Metallica. That’s fitting when discussing Megadeth because they are an unintentional spinoff of that group.
Lead-singer Dave Mustaine was the guitarist for Metallica until he was kicked out of the band in 1983. Metallica were well known for their heavy drinking. They were even nicknamed Alcohollica for awhile. The problem was apparently that while the rest of the band were funny drunks, Mustaine was a violent drunk. That was too much of a deadly combination, so they kicked Mustaine out of the group. Kirk Hammett would end up taking his place. To say that Mustaine was heart-broken. I remember an interview he gave close to twenty years later where it did, or nearly brought him to tears.
After Metallica, Mustaine would go on to form Megadeth. A couple of successful albums later, and they hit upon the one that featured the classic, Peace Sells. That song was so popular that according to Mustaine in the book I Want My MTV, MTV even stole part of it to use it in the theme for MTV News:
MTV scammed me. They never paid for using the bass line from “Peace Sells” as the MTV News theme. I wrote that music.
Several albums later, they released Countdown To Extinction. The album did well–I’m sure this amazing video didn’t hurt.
There are different stories floating around about the source of the song. If you go to Wikipedia, then you get this alleged quote from Mustaine:
I wrote that about myself. It was pointed out to me that I’m kind of schizophrenic and that I live inside my head. Which is something I don’t subscribe to, but I enjoyed the theory nonetheless.”, and “I think all of us are sweating bullets all the time. Society’s a joke right now, and people are getting more and more hostile. When you think about having an evil twin or schizophrenia, I think a lot of us are schizo, because we live inside our heads. There’s someone we all confer with; it’s called our conscience. Some people cannot control their other side; it takes them over. Everybody has that psychotic side. Everyone has a thing that will make them snap.
The problem is that if you actually follow the source cited for the quote, then it takes you to a page that no longer exists even though it was apparently retrieved on January, 23rd 2017.
Hop over to Songfacts and you get a bit of a different story.
Dave Mustaine has said that the song is about himself, and that he wrote it after “it was pointed out to me that I’m kind of schizophrenic and that I live inside my head.”
He revealed on VH1’s That Metal Show, however, that the song was inspired by a friend of his girlfriend (and later, his wife), Pam. This friend suffered from anxiety attacks – Mustaine called her “s–thouse crazy.” She would take Pam to a party, have an anxiety spell and leave her; Mustaine would get the call and have to pick her up.
After Mustaine wrote this song, Pam thought it was about her, but Dave assured her she was “not that crazy.” Said Mustaine, “I wrote this song about her nutty friend.”
The video is a perfect storm of concept, director, and cinematographer.
The video shows us Mustaine in a nightmarish mental health cell where we are taken into his brain by literally seeing multiple versions of himself talking and interacting with each other.
There are two parts that I particularly like.
The first part is when two Mustaines are harassing another from the sides while that one is holding what looks like a human heart before they all come into sync to say the lyric, “Mankind has got to know his limitations.”
The other part is when you see one Mustaine kicking another in the face who is sitting in a corner.
The director of the video is Wayne Isham. Isham has worked with everyone from Rod Stewart to The Spin Doctors to Faith Hill. He seems to have primarily worked with heavy metal bands that include both Metallica and Megadeath. He is credited with inventing the Bon Jovi video for Mötley Crüe–Home Sweet Home–and then giving it to Bon Jovi, who built their career on that style.
The cinematographer is none other than Daniel Pearl. Pearl is the man who has shot well over 400 music videos from the early 80s to today. You could probably write a whole book that is comprised of a series of interviews with him about each video he remembers working on, and you would have a mini-history of music videos from the MTV-era.
He has only helmed a couple of projects because he has stated that he’s perfectly happy with being a cinematographer. One of the few videos that he got behind the camera for was Butterfly by Mariah Carey. He has shot seventeen of her music videos. He has also worked on several feature films, including the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
That’s why I referred to this video as a perfect storm.
It’s one of my favorites. Enjoy!
30 Days Of Surrealism:
- Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
- The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
- Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
- Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
- Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
- The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
- Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
- Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
- Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
- Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
- Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
- Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
- Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)
- Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)
- Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots (2000, dir. David Slade)
- The Ink In The Well by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
- Red Guitar by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
- Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)