Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine on Writing “Holy Wars” After Almost Inciting a Riot in Ireland: “That’s part of my elementary evaluation of the situation” – 2022
An excerpt from the interview can be found below.
Irish Times: On May 11th, 1988, at the height of the Troubles, you caused uproar at a concert at the Antrim Arena. It inspired one of Megadeth’s greatest songs, Holy Wars … The Punishment Due, from their 1990 classic album, Rust In Peace.
Holy Wars was about the naivety coming there. I was so honest and so innocent. We were backstage, and some stuff had happened during the day which really set the tone for the night. It was just a powder keg ready to go.
I went downstairs and somebody was caught trying to bootleg T-shirts inside the venue. Talk about brass! We went to take the shirt, and he said, “These are for the cause.” I didn’t know what the cause was. “What’s the cause?” I asked him. “It’s about prejudice and religion. The Catholics think they are better than the Protestants; the Protestants think they are better than the Catholics.”
I understand that. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, and they hate every religion except theirs. I was drinking Guinness straight from the source. I had a bunch of Guinnesses. We are up on stage, and some kid was throwing coins. I don’t know if he was trying to hit Chuck Mehler [the band’s drummer] or Dave Ellefson [its bassist], but I got hit one time. I was pissed. I saw the guy who threw it, and I said something to him. The show stopped. I came back out on stage, and I had just heard that Paul McCartney had said, “Give Ireland back to the Irish,” and I thought Paul’s a knight, he’s cool, it’s got to be something worth saying — so I said what he said and added, “This one’s for the cause,” and the reaction was much different, because I was an American.
It polarized the audience. We had to be taken out of the place in a bulletproof bus. The next day I was in Nottingham, and I wrote the lyrics “Brother will kill brother, spilling blood across the land, killing for religion is something I don’t understand / Fools like me who cross the sea and come to foreign lands / Ask the sheep, for their beliefs / Do you kill on God’s command? A country that’s divided surely will not stand / My past erased, no more disgrace / no foolish naive stand.”
That’s part of my elementary evaluation of the situation, which was grossly underestimating the pain and suffering that people have because of this. I penned this song. It just came out. I love the Irish people, and I don’t really see any distinction between north and south, east and west.
You can read the entire interview @ this location.
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