Interview: Willie Gee – Dave Mustaine (Megadeth)
POSTED 3.07.15 IN NEWS
Keeping Dave Mustaine of Megadeth on the road, with Willie Gee.
Willie Gee – based out of Chicago, Illinois. At least, that is where the majority of my stuff is kept and where mail is sent. I did my first bit of touring in the spring of 1998, with the band King Diamond, filling in for a friend who took a leave of absence. I didn’t do my first full tour complete with pre-production and rehearsals until 2000.
Most recently, I’ve been doing work with Megadeth (I started with them in 2004) but I’ve also worked with Slayer, Young the Giant and The Pretty Reckless in the last several months. In the past I’ve worked with Anthrax, King Diamond, Nevermore, Black Eyed Peas, Kreator.
When was the first time you worked with a Marshall set up, and which band was it?
I had Marshall gear in bands of my own, but when touring, the King Diamond band had a variety of Marshall gear when I worked for them. JCM800 style 4×12’s with the 70 watt Celestions, and Glen Drover (who was in the band at the time) had a 100 watt Valvestate he’d use that he loved the tone of.
What is the loudest rig you have worked on?
I’d have to say it would be a toss-up between Megadeth and Slayer. Megadeth usually has fewer “live” cabinets on stage per player – for Mustaine it’s normally no less than 3 and as many as 4 cabinets and once upon a time, an isolated cabinet as well, powered by its own power amp. Mustaine uses the Dual Mono-Bloc EL-34 loaded 9200 series amps and at times, they are PUMPING.
Slayer’s rigs consist of three 100 watt Marshall heads of varying models – Kerry has his signature amp and on stage right there have been at various times anything from Jeff Hanneman’s JCM800s to JCM2000 to the new DSL100 models, all three on and all three heads driving 2 Marshall speaker cabs each – a total of six cabs on each side of the stage (with two Marshall 8×10″ bass cabs under the drum riser at centre stage as well), and they’re not that frugal with the volume control either.
Best and worst gigs you have worked?
That’s a tough one. I’ve been on some horrible gigs with great people, and on some technically great gigs, working with people who’ve made me wonder how long it would take the SWAT team to get me after I went berserk …
Favourite Marshall Head?
That’s a tough question as well! I would be a villain if I didn’t pay homage to the JCM800, but I also really like the old, 4 input Mark II heads. I once procured an old, 1970s 50 watter from my good friend, John Henry and I traded it for some four channel preamp, like a fool. John Henry, I.O.U. an amp – but I can’t say when exactly it will be delivered. With the newer models, I am really liking that Satriani edition JVM410 – it’s mind boggling!
Anything unique about the Marshall rig you are working on now?
I don’t think there’s anything PARTICULARLY unique about the Marshall rigs I’ve been working on lately – Megadeth is working on an album and using a variety of Marshall gear on that – 1959RR head and JVM410 and 410JS primarily, along with various Marshall cabs – Mustaine’s signature cabinet as well as some older cabinets Dave has had around with Celestion Vintage 30s and “greenbacks” in them. The last rig I worked with was Gary Holt’s Slayer rig with the new DSL100 heads in them. I recently had my old 50 watt JCM800 head worked on by Larry Melero (thanks, Larry!) and I am thoroughly enjoying that, and if I can get enough time “off”, I am putting together a rack based around my JMP-1 midi preamp, some interesting effect pedals in a MIDI looper and a couple of Marshall 2×12″ cabs I’ve managed to hunt down.
Coolest person you have worked with or hung around with?
Yet ANOTHER tough question! There’s a lot of cool people around, believe it or not. Stand-outs among musicians, I’d have to say would be the guys in Anthrax, Andy LaRocque, Jeff Loomis, George Pajon, James Lomenzo. There’s a ton of awesome techs as well, like Takumi Suetsugu, Larry Melero, Drew Foppe, Tue Bayer. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Marshall has outstanding people working there also!
Apart from the current Artist you have worked with who’s your favourite guitarist/band?
Who’s says the current artists I’ve worked with are my favourite? Seriously, though, I enjoy a variety of styles of music but I’d say listening pleasure I’ve always been partial to (Ace Frehley era) KISS, The Beatles, Megadeth, Cheap Trick. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of singer-songwriter and “Americana” type music like John Hiatt and Shelby Lynne, as well as newer metal bands such as Havok, Revocation, etc. My favourite guitarists have always been George Harrison, Ace Frehley and probably Peter Frampton, more recently, I really liked Gary Moore, Marty Friedman and Jeff Loomis.
JCM or Plexi?
Wow. That’s a real coin-toss. I have to say that my inclinations have been decided more “retro” lately, and with some of the great stomp boxes that are around now, you can really do a lot with a Plexi. So many bands that I liked when I was younger used the Plexi amps as well and I’ve got a renewed liking for that tone. Makes me want to get a Wilshire or some humbucker-loaded slab of mahogany goodness and get my Humble Pie on! I say Plexi.
Which modern day Marshalls do you like?
I am chuffed that the Jubilee amps have been reissued. I always liked those. The JVM410s I think are remarkable amps and I plan to get that Satriani one, eventually (somehow!). I like the Class 5 combos and own a couple of them. I would also like to revisit the Vintage/Modern, I never really got a chance to check those out.
Anything in your rig modded?
In MY rig? Larry Melero refurb’ed my JCM800 and put a little of his special Melero magic in there – I don’t know WHAT he did exactly, he just said “I will make it more jalepeno and not so much habenero” and all I care about is it sounds GREAT. Nothing in Mustaine’s rig is modded, either – I just retubed some 9200’s with Groove Tubes, and that’s it. Gary Holt’s Marshall rig for Slayer also uses totally stock DSL100, with some overdrive kicked in for solos and fills and some other effect ear candy here and there. None of the actual Marshall items have been modded in any way, that I am aware of. If it sounds great, why mess with it?
What’s the secret Marshall weapon in your set up?
Marshall IS the weapon, and that’s no secret!
Lastly any funny standout Marshall stories?
Funny stories? I dunno – rock and roll is a serious business! I do recall a Megadeth soundcheck once upon a time when Dave Mustaine agreed to let the other guitarist use some gear from another manufacturer. Things were not sounding “right”, so Mustaine said “I am not opposed to someone using other gear, but I AM against something not sounding like Megadeth”, and he had the other guy’s gear removed and had some Marshall speakers brought in. After those were hooked up and a few chords were struck, Mustaine stopped the soundcheck, walked over and hugged the Marshall speaker stack. It was amusing to me!
Thanks for your time, Willie. Catch Megadeth on tour this year, and at major festivals this summer.