Dave Mustaine on Megadeth's 'Intimate' Fan Boot Camp, Band's Church Service

Singer will welcome visitors to his California home this month for clinics, tastings and even a religious gathering with bassist David Ellefson

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine talks about his band's "boot camp," life on his farm and hosting a prayer service for his fans. Credit: Amy Harris/ZUMA

This month, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine will be doing something few other musicians of his stature do: He's inviting his fans into his home. From March 10th to the 13th, the singer and guitarist's Fallbrook, California, abode will serve as "Megadeth Boot Camp." It's a place where well-heeled metalhead diehards – who spent between $999 and $5,499 each – will have the opportunity to take guitar, drum and bass lessons, witness an acoustic concert by the recent Grammy winners, taste wine with Mustaine and jam in a studio on the group's heavy 1992 hit "Symphony of Destruction."

The singer, who now lives on a farm in Tennessee and is looking to sell the California home after the boot camp, recently caught up with Rolling Stone to explain how will all work. But as it happened, life in the South is pretty different from what he'll be putting his headbanging privates-in-training through.

"I just woke up," he says after picking up the phone, his voice gravelly. "I'd dozed off, since I was up real early this morning. It's pretty fun living on a farm. You've got all kinds of things you need to tend to, including your critters, so it's quite a difference. I remember now, back in my childhood watching Green Acres, and that is full on what I'm living out here. It's fun." That said, he's not especially missing city life.

Why aren't you doing your boot camp at your farm?
It's a little more relaxed out here in Tennessee versus California. Our property here is so wide open, and I think the one there is much more interesting. It's on an old, 200-year-old oak farm, and it's got much more personality, with the way that the trees are turning and the forestry there. The topography there is much cooler.

Why did you want to do this boot camp in the first place?
Our management told us how they'd done something similar with 30 Seconds to Mars and it had been successful for them, and I thought, "Well, damn. That sounds great to have a bunch of people over at my house." We're getting ready to sell the house anyway; we're not going to live there anymore. So there's no worries about having people come over. Also, since we're selling it, we won't have to worry about people walking up to our security PA and go, "Hey, trick or treat, Dave," afterwards.

So what do you want people to take away from this experience?
Certainly none of the furniture [laughs]. The thing I'd most like people to take away from this is that we're good people. We want everyone to have fun and enjoy an intimate experience with us and learn a little bit about who we are and what we do.

We did something like this before, and I was thinking about the [guitar and drum] lessons we give, so I hope everybody feels like they get their money's worth. I've been talking with Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] about how he does his clinics. We're talking about making them much more in-depth. I'm going to do a private clinic for a half an hour.

You're also allowing people to sing along to the original multi-tracks for "Symphony of Destruction," and you'll give them a recording of it. Why did you pick that song?
I thought it would be easiest. It's popular, so most people would know the song, and there's an opportunity where if someone says, "I want to do two songs," you can say, "OK, well, let's do 'Symphony' and 'Hangar 18.'"

Since this is a fan-oriented thing, when is the last time you were star-struck?
I was in Japan hosting the Classic Rock Awards in Japan and I saw Jeff Beck play there. Jimmy Page was there, and he's one of my heroes, and to see him getting excited over Jeff Beck was probably what made me get into it. If I didn't look up to Jimmy and see him look up to Jeff Beck so much, I probably wouldn't have even noticed.

Your boot camp says it will have "paparazzi" on hand to take photos of people. What's your advice for dealing with them?
They don't bug me at all.

What's the worst part of fame?
You've got to remember that you're always on. People are always watching. You've got to be careful about what you do and where you're at, what you say and how you act. You've got to make sure you say the right stuff.

What about the best part?
Being able to do things that most people don't get to do. It's a great opportunity to help people, too. When you've seen that you've changed people's lives, it's special. I remember, we were at this place in Chicago and a girl in a wheelchair came up; she was missing her legs. She said, "I want to thank you for writing the [Youthanasia] song 'Train of Consequences.'" I said, "What for?" "Well, I was hit by a train and I lost my legs." And I was like, "Oh, my God." Who would have ever thought that song would have brought a familiarity or some kind of closure to this young girl. It was just mind-blowing. It's not like I'd written the song with a purpose, like I'd done with [the same album's] "À Tout le Monde."

What inspired "À Tout le Monde"?
I wrote it for my mom when she died. It was kind of an epitaph for her. The premise of the song was that my mom was able to come back to visit me in a dream and she could say only one thing to me, then it was off. When I asked her what it was, it was, "I love you." And that's what the song was about.

It's funny, because I had another dream about my dad when he passed away and it was the same kind of thing, but that was in the [Peace Sells] song "The Conjuring," and it was way darker and more sinister. It was me dreaming that my dad had done some kind of pact with the devil.

Getting back to the boot camp, you've said the band will be hosting a "Megadeth Church." What will that entail?
Well, [bassist] David Ellefson is a pastor. We'll do a small churchy kind of thing, so that David can feel connected with them. I was thinking, what's the greatest way for David to feel complete with everyone? I figured it would be great if he came and did a 12-step thing and leaves. That way it's a super personal way for people to connect with him, because if I was going to allow someone to connect with me on a more personal level, there really is no better way.

Finally, what rooms will be off-limits to guests?
There will probably be a couple of areas. The home is super old and it looks like it was something from The Hobbit. I'm concerned that we're going to be able to take care of the place so it looks the same way when we're done. There's a really cool area near the poolside, and there's a bunch of cool garden areas that I think will be better than hanging out in one of the rooms. But there is one room I like the most, and that's where the pub is.