Dave Mustaine on Legendary Producer/Engineer Eddie Kramer During Megadeth’s ‘Countdown to Extinction’: “He’s the guy that recorded Jimi Hendrix and makes sure that every living organism knows it” – 2022 – Max Norman – Interview
In a new interview, Dave Mustaine looks back on Megadeth’s breakthrough album ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ released 30 years ago. You can read the entire interview @ this location.
“When we did Rust in Peace, I was newly sober and had just hung up most of my bad habits at the time and got into the studio and really felt that fire inside,” Mustaine, now age 60, tells Rolling Stone. “I don’t know what happened. I don’t go to meetings. I used to be an alcoholic, and I’m not anymore. I can put it down. And I attribute that 100 percent to my relationship with my H.P. [higher power], but I don’t talk about it too much, because people freak out on that.”
The second thing Mustaine thinks about when he considers Countdown is Eddie Kramer, the recording engineer whose credits include albums by Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and who Mustaine recalls as carrying himself accordingly. “He’s the guy that recorded Jimi Hendrix and makes sure that every living organism knows it,” Mustaine says. “He would walk into our control room while we’re working, like he’s some big fucking dude. And I didn’t care who he was. And the more he did that, the more it made me resent him.”
The band was recording at the Burbank studio the Enterprise with Max Norman, who co-produced the album with Mustaine, and the frontman recalls bonding with Norman about their mutual disdain for Kramer’s supposedly big ego. “Max Norman has got this wicked vocabulary, so we would try and use really big words on each other,” Mustaine recalls. “So the time came to write the sign on the door for Eddie Kramer to stay out. And it says: ‘No Obsequious Bozophobes — This means you, Eddie Kramer.’”
When Mustaine takes Countdown in as a whole, he appreciates the focus and attention to detail he and the rest of the band put into the album. Norman rode them hard to get everything perfect; if Mustaine or Friedman were to bend a note, raising its pitch, it couldn’t be a quarter step, it had to be a half or full step. “Max has, like I said, this really acerbic wit,” Mustaine says. “And I remember one time I was singing my butt off on one of these songs, and I said, ‘Was that good?’ He goes, ‘Not really.’ And I thought, ‘Ugh.’ … I think I’ve gotten a little bit tougher skin over the years, so it’s cool.”
You can read the entire interview @ this location.
During a 2021 interview with The Metal Voice, Max Norman said the following:
I remember Dave said to me on ‘Countdown,’ when we started to do ‘Countdown,’ he said, ‘I want you to teach me how to produce,’ and I said, ‘I really can’t teach you that; you’ve just got to pay attention and learn the best you can.’
Right at the end of that album, after it was mixed, about two weeks before it was released, I got a call from my attorney. He said, ‘Ok, all the final contracts are done, and I made the change to the production credit’, and I said, ‘What change?’ He said, ‘You know, produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. No, no.’ I called Dave and I said: ‘Hey, you just fucked me by changing the credit right at the end, and they’ve already printed 400,000 copies of this! How I about I junk the fucking record right now?’ He started freaking out. He said, ‘Dude, dude, it’s a mistake!’ And I knew it wasn’t a mistake. It was a little bit of a backstab, and I got very, very upset about it.
I said: ‘Listen, you wrote all the songs. You sang all the songs. You play on it. I gave you a co-production credit and now you’re stealing my credit.’ I said: ‘That’s not right. I’m the engineer/producer. You’re the co-producer.’ I said, ‘You flip that back right now or there’s going to be a real big problem.’ I said, “I’ll call Capitol (Records) right now and tell them that it’s not coming out.’
They already had like 450,000 out in the stores, so it was a real mess, and it took me quite a while to stop being pissed off about that. And Dave kept apologizing: ‘Oh, I’m sorry. It was a mistake. I don’t know what happened.’ And I was like, ‘You’re so full of shit. You did it on purpose, I know why you did it. Don’t ever fucking try it again.’
I don’t think that on ‘Countdown,’ that Dave was really a co-producer, but I gave him a co-producer credit anyway because, you know, I’ve been a nice guy, I guess.
When the interviewer asked, ‘Does that come with points, a co-producer credit? Are there points associated with that?’
Norman replied, “It doesn’t come off my points.”