"We have a really unique relationship with our fans," says Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine. "We're not only siblings, but we're best friends, lovers and parents to them, too. Which I think is so flattering."
Given the fact that Megadeth's new album, "Youthanasia," offers precisely the kind of abrasive, aggressive, intelligent heavy metal uptight parents fear most, it may seem odd to hear Mustaine acknowledge that his band has a parental side of its own. But as he explains it, that part of the band's relationship with its audience simply reflects the amount of trust Megadeth has earned over the years.
"When we can be looked upon by our audience in a parental way, like 'These guys actually care about us. What would they do?' -- I think that is obviously the highest compliment we can get," he says, over the phone from his Arizona home. "We have a very involved rapport with our audience."
That isn't just a matter of talking with fans after a show, either, as Mustaine and Megadeth are "deeply immersed in the Internet" and do a lot of their mingling via modem. Megadeth has its own address on the Internet's Worldwide Web (http://bazaar.com), and fans who dial up will find all sorts of band-related material there, from "horrorscopes" to a list of fans' New Year's resolutions ("I guess my New Year's resolution will be to try to sneak the word 'Megadeth' in every sentence I say (Megadeth). That, and maybe learn to (Megadeth) play guitar or drums" goes one).
But the project Mustaine is proudest of is the "Feed the Hungry" food drive, which is publicized through the band's web site. It's a simple idea, and ties in with the band's current tour: The first 200 fans who bring 10 pounds of canned food, along with their ticket, to a show will be given a pass allowing them to meet Megadeth after the show.
"You know, it says in the Book of Luke that these rich guys were dropping off rich donations at a temple, and Jesus and Luke were hanging out and watching this," he says. "This old widow came by, and dropped off two small coins. And Luke said that Jesus said, 'She's giving more than these guys, because they gave from their surplus, and she gave all she had.' With these fans, granted it's just 10 pounds of canned food, but it's possibly all they have."
Don't be surprised by Mustaine's familiarity with the Bible. "It's real easy to say, 'Oh, Megadeth, they're Satanic,' " he says. "Duhh. I've been talking about God in our lyrics since the first record. Your preacher, your rabbi, your minister, your pastor talks more about the devil than I do. Is he Satanic? No, he's not."
In other words, says Mustaine, appearances matter far less than actions, and that's a rule he and his bandmates try hard to live by. "When you try to teach a child something, his stomach doesn't learn it, his heart does. And people force-feed something, they jamming it down your throat, where does it go? In your stomach. If you want a child to learn something with his heart, you have to let it soak in through his skin by being exemplary."
To hear excerpts from Megadeth's "Youthanasia," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6138 after you hear the greeting.
When: Thursday, Jan. 26, 8 p.m.
Where: Michael's Eighth Avenue
Tickets: $24 cash, $25 charge
Call: (410) 768-7901 or (410) 481-6328