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Mustaine also made a point of making his songs for Warriors of Rock a project for the entire band. In fact, this is the first Megadeth track to feature the return of bassist Dave Ellefson, who hadn't played with the band since it was reformed in 2004. Since he was scheduled to play on the upcoming Rust in Peace tour, Mustaine wanted him to play on these new songs for the game. Ellefson's efforts, and the influences he drew from early metal favorites like Budgie and Diamond Head, transformed the tracks from "good to great."
After the track was completed, Mustaine saw how his efforts on the fretboard were translated to the Guitar Hero controller. "There's so many different frets and notations on the guitar," he wonders, "how do they make it work?" Mustaine was impressed by the process but quickly reminded us that complete faithfulness isn't the goal. "I think they make it as challenging ... and as fun as it can possibly be."
Wish-fulfillment has always been a core part of the series' success. "I think it's given a lot of people the opportunity," Mustaine says, "to actually be a part of the music. It's a bummer to want to be part of a band and to not know how to play an instrument. You just sit there and play air guitar and just think, 'God, I wish I could make this thing talk.'" As great as the game's reach has become, and as much as it allows wannabe rockers to live the rock and roll fantasy, it can't be confused with the real thing. "I remember the feeling I had when I picked up a guitar," says Mustaine. "If Guitar Hero had been around then, I probably wouldn't be Dave Mustaine from Megadeth anymore; I'd probably be Dave Mustaine, the guy that shreds on Guitar Hero."
To combat the series' oversaturation, Activision is seeking out artists like Mustaine who want to do more than sign a licensing agreement and collect a paycheck. Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, for instance, has gone so far as to do motion capture sessions of his own face just to make sure his avatar is as faithful as possible. As Guitar Hero invaded the mainstream culture, artists like Eddie Van Halen and Joe Perry have been drawn in by the urging of their kids. Though his own family plays Guitar Hero at home (as well as "that other system...the one with the drumset"), Mustaine says that Megadeth's involvement didn't come from his children. "I'm not as old as those guys," he says with a smile; "I'm young enough to be some of those guys' kids."
Mustaine obviously has high hopes for this iteration, but also the future of the franchise. "I'm waiting for them to do a Flying V too," he says, referring to the style of guitar he's most associated with. "I'm really excited about seeing what's next for Guitar Hero," he adds. "Knowing these guys, they're probably already diligently working on the next one."
Look for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock on September 24 in Europe, or September 28 in North America.