Kublai Khan

Kublai Khan
From Guitarist To Attorney And Back?

29.11.2012

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*** ARCHIVE ITEM - DATED 2003 ***This interview actually started with typing the words “Greg Handevidt” in an Internet search machine and miraculously finding the man’s e-mail address on the site that has nothing to do with heavy metal. The very next moment we were writing to Greg, because we simply couldn’t miss the opportunity to find out more about this person. In case you don’t know, Greg Handevidt was the very first guitarist who played along with Dave Mustaine in Megadeth. Later on, Greg left to form his own band that released just one record “Annihilation” in 1987 and then disappeared from the scene. Nobody knew for years what happened to Greg, if there are any interviews with him on the internet, we have so far been unable to find them. So if you’re interested in learning about Kublai Khan, what they did in the 1980s and how they miraculously reformed in 2003 (yes, they did! and we were the first to learn it!), as well as about the very first days of Megadeth from the first person, this is your only chance.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - THE YEAR 2012: Those of our readers who have been following HeadBanger.ru for a long time are aware that the website was not born out of nothing. By the time it was established, all of our original authors had several years of experience with other Internet and print media. At that time we came up with a lot of materials, but, for various reasons, some of them are not available on the Internet at all at the moment, or are available in incomplete versions. The fifth anniversary of our webzine is the perfect moment to look back and put them online again. Why? First, because some of these conversations matter a lot to us personally. Second, we know that there is still interest in them on the side of our readers...)

When was the last time you did an interview?

Oh my gosh… The last time I did an interview was probably in 1989. It’s been a long long time. The band broke up, I went into the military for a little while, then I became a lawyer. I haven’t been active with Kublai for a very long time.

Tonight we’re gonna be asking you a lot of questions. Some of them may seem trivial to you, but you see, we haven’t seen ANY interviews with you. Let’s start with the following question: please say a few words about yourself – do you have brothers or sisters? When and where you were born? Who are your parents?

I was actually born in Bay Area, in Concord, but I didn’t live there for very long, probably for about a year. Then my parents – my father’s name is Steven, and my mother’s name is Linda – moved back to Minnesota, and I grew up there. That’s actually where I met Dave Ellefson, the bass player of Megadeth, I got to know him when we were very young, probably 10 years old. I have one brother and one sister.

How did you get into heavy metal? At what age did you start to play guitar?

It’s kind of a long road how I got into heavy metal. I remember when I was about six years old, I was cheering my mom playing a Temptations album. I remember that already back then I was sort of drawn to it, I knew that I wanted to be a musician, I wanted to play music. I started playing guitar when I was about 12 years old. What got me into metal is just I was looking for the music with an edge, the music that had power, that was overwhelming to me. I was very interested in guitars, and metal is just powerful guitar music. That’s what drew me into it. I started off with Kiss, and from there I just progressively got into heavier stuff. The last stuff I was really into before I started writing my own music was old Judas Priest probably up to “Defenders Of The Faith”, old Iron Maiden pre-“The Number Of The Beast”, and that’s about it.

And why did you like guitar so much? Why not bass or drums?

Wow, I don’t know! I was just drawn to it. I always really liked Ace Frehley of Kiss, I wanted to be like Ace when I was a kid. And I think maybe that’s the part of it. I wanted to play the leads, I was just drawn to it somehow.

Do you remember the first show that you visited and the first show that you played?

I remember both. The first show I saw was Kiss in 1977 at the end of their “Destroyer” tour. It was absolutely mind-buggling! I actually saw that show with David Ellefson, and his mom grabbed us off! (everybody laughs) His mom took us to the show and she also saw Kiss! Pretty funny!

Wow! How young were you then? Seventeen?

No, I think we were younger than that, we were probably eleven or twelve.

Probably Dave’s mom just went with you to keep an eye on you. Or did she like the music?

I think so. It was funny, because I remember we were sitting there, and there were guys passing joints around, we could smell weed burning everywhere. We had no idea what it was. Some guys just turned around and offered us this thing bluntly in front of David’s mom, but we had no idea what it was! (everybody laughs) It was like an introduction to the whole music scene when we went to see Kiss. And the first show I ever played was at a really small party. That’s how everybody starts out, they play at a little party, mostly for friends and other kids. David and I had a band called Goz, and that’s just what we did.

Apart from Ace, what guitarists influenced you in the very beginning?

Ace didn’t necessarily influence my playing, though I suppose he did, kind of. I really liked Michael Schenker of UFO, I think the first time I heard the extended live version of “Rock Bottom” I was completely blown away. Among others are Glenn Tipton, KK Downing and Dave Murray.

Why did you decide to move from Minnesota to California?

Actually we were gonna go out to go to the musicians institute in Hollywood. There’s a guitar institute and a bass institute, so David was gonna go to the bass institute and I was gonna go to the guitar institute. We were trying to make our fortunes out in LA, because we grew up in a really small town, a rural town surrounded by farmland, there was no music scene there really, besides what we made. We had to get somewhere where we could get some exposure. We wanted just to go to the institute and see what would come out of it, we didn’t know if we could find bands, if we would form a band, if we would become studio musicians, at the time we had no idea what would happen.

How did you meet Dave Ellefson? What were your impressions of him at first sight? Did you become buddies right after you first met or it took some time?

I first met him in the hallway at school when we were both 10 years old. Somehow I knew that he liked Kiss, I can’t remember how exactly I knew that, maybe he had a Kiss logo drawn on a tabloid or something like that. Somehow I knew that he liked Kiss. In the hallway we were passing each other, and I went up to him and said, “Yeah, Kiss uses Pearl drums and Gibson guitars!” He looked at me and said, “Yeah! And Marshall amps!” (everybody laughs) And that day after school we started talking, and mostly we talked about Kiss and how cool we thought Kiss was. Little kids’ stuff, you know what I mean? We were fast friends from then on.

Tell us more about your meeting with Dave Mustaine. Is it true that it was you who knocked on Mustaine’s door on the day of the historic meeting between two Daves?

Yeah, that’s true! (laughs) That’s a much more interesting story! What happened to us is that we got to LA, and we didn’t know anybody. We actually moved out with two other friends of ours. About four or five days after we moved, the school year didn’t start yet, and we were hanging round our apartment, we didn’t really know where to go. We started to run out of cigarettes, we didn’t have any beer and we didn’t know anybody. We had sort of seen Dave, his reflection in the window, because the buildings were so close together that we could see the reflections of the windows of the apartments above us in our building in the windows of the building across from us. When David and I would practice, we could see Dave leaning out of his window, listening to us. So we knew that he knew that we were there. Finally when we ran out of beer and cigarettes, we said, “Oh, let’s go and talk to the dude upstairs, he looks like he’s cool, he’s got long hair, he’s obviously a metalhead…” So we went up and knocked on his door.

But you know, in the movie “VH1 Behind The Music” the story is a little different. There Dave Mustaine says that he heard Dave Jr. practicing early in the morning, and Jr. was too loud, and Dave had a hangover, so he threw a flower pot and smashed it against the AC of your apartment…

That’s true! I mean, we were from back home farmland, we were used to getting up early in the morning and going out. So it’s like 9 o’clock in the morning, and we’re up and we’re cranking it up, we’re jamming, it’s our job. (everybody laughs) And Dave woke up, he was living with this chick, I think her name was Tracy, they both woke up and were pissed. So we stopped playing and were like, “Oh, we’re sorry…” Then we waited till later in the day to start playing.

Did Dave Mustaine influence you as a guitarist and songwriter in any way?

Oh, absolutely yes! Dave Mustaine influenced my music profoundly. He was from LA, he had been in Metallica, he knew the scene. David and I were two little smalltown corn-fed kids from back home in farmland America, you know what I mean? And Dave opened up a whole new world to us as far as music goes. We had never heard any of the music that influenced him. We had never heard of Diamond Head, Venom or any of those bands that influenced Dave.

Had you heard of Metallica before meeting Dave?

No, we had no idea of Metallica. They were signed and they were ready to do their first album, but at the time Metallica were like us, they were getting some popularity, they were getting signed, but they weren’t big yet. At that point there was no reasons for us to have heard of them, because we were from such a small town. We thought Priest and Maiden were heavy as a god! So when we met Dave, Dave played all this music to us that we never heard before, and it was like finally finding where we were supposed to be. That was where we were trying to get to, that was what we were looking for all along, and Dave sort of showed it to us. Yes, he influenced the way I play, my understanding of how things work. Dave was a tremendous influence on me. Dave has a negative side too, but, you know…

Did this negative side also influence you?

Well, everyone has a negative side, you know what I mean?   

Tell us whose idea was to have you in the band? How did the idea of creating Megadeth come about?

Well… (pause) I was listening to Dave play, and I was listening to him practicing songs, and I was learning his licks from downstairs. He had no idea that I was learning how to play a song, but I could hear him play and I loved it. So one day I went upstairs and said, “Hey, let me try for your band!” I knew he was trying to put a band together and they didn’t have a guitar player. At first he was a little bit apprehensive, like, “Oh yeah, what about David? You moved out here with him, you guys are together and blah blah blah…” At that time Dave had a bass player who had been playing bass for not even a year or something and he wasn’t very good. I knew that once Dave would hear David play and try him up, he would  want David in the band. And I was sure I could get in because I knew his licks. So we went to the rehearsal and he was sort of blown away, because I pretty much knew all the songs. He was pretty impressed and pretty much hired me right there. He was like, “Yeah, you’re in!” A week later we had David doing the jamming with us.

When was all that happening? What month and what year?

1983, June or July, something like that.

So it’s like the birth date of Megadeth, right?

Oh, you guys know more than I know. Here’s the thing – those guys have their history, and I don’t know what their history is, I don’t know what they said on the record. I have no idea what the official birth date of Megadeth is and I would never want to say something that contradicts them. It’s whatever they say it is. I can tell you that we moved out there in late May 1983, because David and I took off about two days after we graduated from high school. It was probably about a month or 1.5 months later that we hooked up and started playing with Dave.

How long did you stay in Megadeth? Did you record anything with them?

I was in Megadeth for three or four months, not very long. I did record one demo with the band, it was on an eight-track or something, we went down to someone’s place, Hunnington Beach or something, and recorded in like a living room. It was a really low-budget kind of thing just to get something down on tape. That’s the only thing I recorded with them.

Was it original songs or cover versions?

All were originals. It’s funny because that tape is somewhere in the world now, I have no idea where, but if you listen to it, it sounds like a conglomeration of “Peace Sells…” and Metallica’s “Ride The Lightning”. (laughs)

So do you wanna say that this material was never released officially?

Well, a lot of them was released, I think pretty much all of that was released, but some of that was released by Metallica. There’s a lot of riffs that Dave had written before he split away from Metallica that Metallica wound up using for their songs on “Ride The Lightning” and “Master Of Puppets.” So after Metallica’s first albums came out, a lot of songs had to be kind of restructured. If you heard it you would be fascinated by it, because when you’re listening to the songs there are Metallica riffs mixed with Megadeth riffs. One song would sound like part Metallica and part Megadeth, something that you’d recognize. It would be very interesting to hear it now.

Do you have it?

No, I have no idea where it is.

Greg, who was on the drums then?

There was a guy called Dijon Carruthers. He gets the credit on “Peace Sells…”, on the song “Black Friday” or something like that.

Did you do any gigs with Megadeth?

No, we never played out, we could never land a drummer. Dijon went in and out, and at the time Dave didn’t wanna sing, so we were looking for a vocalist too.

So as far as we understand the next second guitarist in Megadeth was Kerry King, right?

Yes.

Did you know Kerry?

No. I met him once at the Troubadour or something in passing, we were just out partying, that’s it. And I just remember him now because I love Slayer. (laughs)

Why did you leave Megadeth?

Well… (pause) It was just a different vision of where it was gonna go. I think if you listen to Megadeth and you listen to Kublai you can see the difference. That’s just all it was. Plus I had a child at the time in Minnesota that I had to take care of.

That’s actually why you moved back…

That’s a big part of it, it’s what drew me back there, definitely, there’s no doubt about it.

Is it true that after you left Megadeth Don Dokken wanted to have you in his band and Jeff Scott Soto wanted you to join his project Panther?

No, I wouldn’t say that. What happened is I was wired up to do an audition for Dokken before I left LA. I don’t know where all the rest came from.  Yeah, I read that somewhere a long time ago. That’s not true. There was an audition set up, that’s it, there was never any offer, I never met Don Dokken.

How did Kublai Khan come together? How did you get to know the rest of the line-up?

I moved back to Minnesota, and I started going to school and trying to take care of my kid and writing songs. I wanted to put a band together and I saw an ad in a little music store in Marshall, Minnesota that said, “Heavy metal guitar player seeks other metal musicians. Is there anybody out there?” I think he put on there Motley Crue, Kiss and stuff like that as his influences. You know, I would nod to what those guys do, because they’re both great bands, but they’re not metal. There was something in this ad that drew me in, so I called it, and it was Kevin Idso. At the time he held Motley Crue just like Venom. (laughs) It was like the heaviest thing ever in the world for him, and I was like, “Dude, listen to this!” I played him some stuff that I had written, some demos that I made, the Megadeth demo that we made, and I also played him Metallica’s first album, and he was completely blown away. Once again, it was like what Mustaine did for me. I showed Kevin a whole new world that was there that he had no idea about, and he was just completely taken in by it. We started jamming. That guy is the best natural guitar player I have ever known.

Why did you choose the name Kublai Khan for the band? Do you enjoy reading historical books? I don’t think the majority of people on the planet have a slightest clue who he actually was!

Right! You know, I read an article in some kind of periodical, and the thing that really drew me in was that on the one hand he was really benevolent and quite wise – this guy set up the first organized post office in the history of mankind – and on the other hand he was utterly malevolent and evil and ruthless, you know what I mean? It just occurred to me how at the time this guy really had a grip on power. He sort of understood balance, I think. And that article made a very strong impression on me.

Tell us a bit about the songwriting process in the band. As far as we know, all songs on the “Annihilation” album were written by you and  Kevin…

I don’t know, it was pretty typical. If you listen to the album and hear something that sounds like a hook, it probably came out of me. (laughs) And if you hear some weird stuff in between things that sort of pulled it all together, that’s what came out of Kevin. That’s how we wrote. We would collaborate to put something together that sounded good, sounded interesting, but wasn’t over the top. If you go too far, you can say too much, it’s like putting too many words in a sentence. And I think that we had a perfect balance of what we wanted to say and what we wanted to do.

Did you record any demos before the “Annihilation” album?

Yeah, actually we recorded two demos. One was called… oh man… (laughs) Oh, I can’t remember now. The second one was “Clash Of The Swords”, but the first one was… I can’t remember the name of the first one. Both demos got pretty good reviews.

Why did you decide to sing yourself? Was it something that you always wanted to do or was it because there were no good singers around?

I always sang pretty much. I was a singer in my bands in high school, I was pretty much always a singer when I was coming out. I don’t know, it was just a lot easier for me to say what we wanted to say than to try to get some outsider to come in and say it.

What record label did actually release “Annihilation”? Some sources say it’s New Renaissance Records, others say it’s Shark Records a division of Metal Blade?

(evil laughter) Shark Records is who signed us originally. To this day he has not given me an accounting of what we sold. The most recent time I asked him for an accounting was within the last 18 months, and he basically gives me the pound sign. He won’t account for anything and that’s all I know at the time. I don’t have much to say about that guy. He fell off the face of the earth to us, I don’t know if there’s record being sold, I don’t know what’s going on with it. I’m as curious about what’s going on with the band as you are. I was taken aback when got your e-mail. Because I haven’t got anybody contacting me about the band in a long time. I still talk to Ann Boleyn (the owner of New Renaissance Records – ed.) via e-mail once in a while. That’s something I wanted to ask you about. Are there any Kublai Khan records out there? Are they available?

No, we have never seen one. What we have is a tape copy dubbed from some other guys. Is there any chance to see the record re-issued?

That’s something that I’ve been talking about to Kevin Idso over the course of the last month. We were actually talking about trying to put a fire under it again. So I don’t know, we will see.

(taken aback) Are you talking about some kind of reunion?

Possibly. I don’t think it will be possible for us to get Mike Liska and John Fedde back. We have no idea where Mike Liska is, we’ve tried to find him, I’ve been trying to find him for about three years, and I have no idea where he is, I have lost touch with him. John Fedde is working as a manager of something like an oil refinery. (laughs) He’s got some big executive job, it’s gotta be some really hard work to drive him away from it.

Well, but it still may be fun for him to remember the good ol’ days…

Maybe, but I don’t even know if he plays drums anymore. The kind of music that we play is still in my veins and in Kevin’s veins. I don’t know where those guys stand and how do they feel about it, it’s hard to say. But I know that Kevin and I still have a little bit of the drive for us. And as far as re-releasing “Annihilation”, there’s some intellectual property issues that need to be dealt with on that. I don’t know what the legal face of that is going to be.

But you’re a lawyer, aren’t you?

That’s right, I’m a lawyer, but I’m not an intellectual property lawyer.

So you don’t know who owns the rights for this album?


I believe that we do, but I’m not sure. It could be something that may wind up being litigated. That’s something that has to be explored. That’s something that Kevin and me have just really started talking about. You know, it takes a lot of time and efforts to go after something like that. Unless there’s a golden pot at the end of the rainbow, I’ve got a law practice here, and it’ll take a while to pull me away from these. I’ve got a good life, but at the same time if that’s something that belongs to us, I wanna secure it. At this point it’s still up in limbo as far as who owns the right to “Annihilation”. But the good news is we’re talking about writing.

Wow!!!

We do want “Annihilation” back, we would like to remaster it, if I had to do it all over I’d re-record it, we’re not happy at all with the mix on it. But it’s said and done, it’s the first album, it’s the first thing. But Kevin and I are talking about writing, we both still play, it’s not that I ever stopped playing, it’s just that at some point you have to say, “I gotta do something to take care of my obligations, take care of my responsibilities back here. And right now I can’t make it on music.” That’s what was happening with Kublai, we weren’t making any money, we were suffering from poor management… I don’t dump it on anybody but me and Kevin. We just didn’t do what we needed to do at the time to secure the kind of management that we needed to get us somewhere. And nobody stepped up and said, “Hey!” Well, I should say that somebody did, but they did a bad job.

Who was the producer of “Annihilation” and who mixed it?

Actually the engineer was a guy named Jonathan Akre. He worked at Paisley Park, he worked for Prince. A brilliant guy! But he did a lot of other things too.

And who painted the cover for the album?

The cover was designed by two guys – Dan Kalal and Sanchez Oblongata.

What was the idea behind the cover? Was it your idea or did they just come to you and say, “Hey, this is the cover of your CD!”?

Oh no, it was our idea. It’s supposed to be a mongrel horde coming across, we had this futuristic sort of fantasy vision of half-mongrel, half-manbeast when we wrote “Mongrel Horde”. That’s supposed to be the mongrel horde.

Can you comment on the meaning of some songs on the album? What is  “Liar’s Dice” about?

It’s about a guy who’s got a gambling problem, and he’s so down and out that he plays his final hand of Liar’s Dice and he gets popped at the end of the song, gets his money stolen and lays dead in the alley. Liar’s Dice is a scam that they play in back alleys in Chicago. Guys kill each other all the time at those games in the end.

What is “Passing Away” about?


This is just the song about inevitability. It’s about a constant state of suffering. You’re born and you begin to rot, do you know what I mean? (laughs) The songs didn’t have any real big political meaning, they’re mostly just like fantasy sci-fi horror song. We weren’t really trying to say anything because we were all pretty private in our own political views and our own personal feelings about things, and we never ever set out to write any music that has any purpose except to just tell a story and give people some entertainment for a relief. That’s all our music ever was.

Many reviewers tend to do the evident comparison between “Annihilation” and Megadeth’s “Killing Is My Business..” saying they are pretty close musically. I would not completely agree with it… What would YOU say to this?

Mmm, I don’t think they’re close musically at all. I think we were a lot closer to thrash than Megadeth is. “Killing Is My Business…” was a heavy speed metal album, don’t get me wrong, but we were rawer than them. We were rawer as a band, and that was our style, it wasn’t by mistake. (laughs) We were more on the edge and we were more blood and guts than Megadeth, I think. Listen, I don’t take anything away from Megadeth, I love them, they’re a great band. I think we just went heavier than them, if that makes any sense. I hate to say that, because heavy is obviously very subjective…

And thrash metal is also very subjective!

Exactly! So if you’re asking for my personal take on it, I think that’s what it is. We were just rawer and more edgy than Megadeth, that’s the main difference. But I can definitely see why people make a comparison, I’m sure there are flavors of it all over the place, because like I said before I was tremendously influenced by Dave. I was a young kid who was straight off the street when I met Dave, he taught me a lot, no doubt about that, so I’m sure that it can be heard in our music. Another part that set us off and made us unique is Kevin. This guy has got an insane musical mind, and you can’t possibly escape from being influenced by that. I never heard anywhere what he did. Kevin took a lot of off-the-wall crazy stuff and mixed it with the hooks that I came up with. I think we sound unique, I don’t think any other band ever sounded like us. We only did one record, but you can tell what we sounded like by that record.

Did you do a lot of touring with Kublai Khan? What bands did you play with?

We played a lot, but we never really went out on any long organized tours. We did small short tours, we did isolated gigs, we played a lot, though.

Did you invite David Ellefson or Dave Mustaine to any of your gigs? Do you know his opinion of what you were doing?

I read a review one time that Dave Mustaine wrote about the band, and it wasn’t very flattering. (laughs) I took it with a grain of salt, because we all know it’s Dave, it didn’t bother me at all. Then I saw him three months later, and he was like (imitates a totally drunken voice), “Hey man, I love you!” We drank some brandy, and it was all over. (laughs) Dave’s a very unique person… Dave and David came to a couple of shows, and David actually jammed with Kublai a couple of times! It was nothing serious, nothing like, “Oh, I’m gonna leave Megadeth and go play with them.” It was like, “Hey dude, I’m in town right on, c’mon, let’s have a party, pick up the band!” We played “Mechanix” or something, it was nothing serious. David was always supportive, we were friends way back when we were little kids, and it takes a lot to destroy a friendship that old. I’m still in pretty good touch with David, sometimes he drops me an e-mail once in six months or a year, sometimes I talk to him every day for three weeks.

Do you think that one of the reasons people actually got your album and went to the gigs because you were in Megadeth?

I’m sure that that has a lot to do with it, because obviously it’s gonna raise people’s views, they’re gonna see us because of curiosity. It’s a marketing trick, just like anything else, it’s a resume. People start asking me what I’ve done and where I’ve been. “Well, here’s what I came from: the last band I was in was called Megadeth in LA” Well, at the time when I was telling people that they weren’t big either. And then by the time we started getting press Megadeth was big, and people on the Minneapolis music scene already knew that that was the band I came from. I’m sure that that had something to do with it, but if that made people listen to it – right on, more power to it! (laughs) I don’t have a problem with it, that’s how it works.

Why did Kublai Khan break up?

Oh, no, my God! The inevitable one!

Yeah, of course… Sorry, but that’s indeed inevitable…

You know, we broke up because of a lot of things, I think. We had a lot of pressure on us, a lot of it was financial, honestly. There was a lot of personal infighting in the band, when things didn’t go right. I think the band just drifted apart because basically things didn’t happen fast enough.

After that you went to the military, but what did Kevin do? Where is he now?

Kevin is in Minneapolis, he’s a record producer, I guess he’s involved with Anal Blast, he was in the fucking Shit Bizkit for a while, he kinda drifted back and forth and now he’s come full circle to where he is – engineering and producing. The guy’s a great guitar player.

And what about you – do you still play at home? Maybe you have an acoustic guitar and you still practice on it…

Yeah, I got a little set at home, I play Gibson at the moment. Me and Kevin are talking about writing. But it will really take a lot to pull me away from my law practice.

Were you involved in any other bands over the years?

Here’s what happened, man, let me tell you. I was so disappointed with the music business that I sold all my gear and said, “Fuck the world, I’m going to the military and I’m gonna be a soldier!” And that’s what I did. I realized about six months after I joined the military that I couldn’t just play guitar for fun, because I was at somebody’s house and they had a can of a decent guitar and a little set-up, like a Marshall combo. I started jamming and I found myself contemplating ways that I could go, that I could run away from the military, run off to Canada and form a band. And I realized that I was insane. I can’t just do it for fun, it’s all or nothing. From that point I knew I had to walk away. I didn’t pick a guitar up for almost five years. Finally a buddy of mine had a guitar, I picked it up and it felt good, and I didn’t contemplate about running away. I realized that I had control over my musical insanity at that point, and that’s so much better. To go back to your question, I’ll say no, I didn’t do anything musically after Kublai, because I had two children that I needed to take care of, and no matter how much principle you have, at some point you have to take your life into your own hands and do what you gotta do to survive. At that time I wasn’t surviving off music, and I couldn’t keep going half-assed, it was all or nothing and I knew that it would kill me or I would go on and I would live and I probably wouldn’t play music again, and that’s the way I followed. Several years later I came to the realization that I could play music. I don’t wanna compare it to an addiction, cause that isn’t what it was. But I had to change my life.

How did it happen that you became an attorney/head of the law offices?  Did you attend a higher law school?

When I was in the military I got my bachelor’s degree, I went to college, and when got over the military, I went to the law school, I got my doctor’s degree, I took the bar exam, and now I’m an attorney in California.

What do you think about the present-day metal scene? What are the albums that impressed you the most in the past few months?

Oh, man, I think there’s a lot of really cool stuff happening. System Of A Down “Toxicity” is awesome, I love almost anything that Tool does, “Lauteralus” is awesome, I love it. But I still listen to the old stuff, you know what I mean? (laughs) There isn’t that much stuff that comes out now that I really like. I like Korn, I like anything that’s unique, that is different, and there isn’t much of that out there. It’s hard to find it in the metal genre anyway. I still listen to the old Judas Priest, the old Iron Maiden, Slayer.

And what kind of music are your children listening to? Are they into heavy metal or some other stuff?

My oldest daughter likes country music. (laughs) And my younger daughter likes rap and hip hop.

Did you follow the career of Megadeth? What do you think about their later stuff such as “Risk” or “Cryptic Writings”?

I’m a big fan, I love the band, I followed them through their whole career. Like I said, I remained friends with them all along, I saw them every time they came to San Diego, I went down and spend time with them. I think Dave’s a brilliant person, he’s a brilliant eccentric person. And David Ellefson is also a brilliant person. If you look at what these guys did, the two of them over the course of almost 20 years, it’s incredible, they had a long run, you know. They went through a lot of people in the band and they managed to hold it together and put out good music all along. I think they’re one of the legends, they edged their place in history in stone.

I still wonder why you were not in the Megadeth: Behind the Music video. I mean, they are not even mentioning you were there.

You have to ask them! I have no idea.

How do you view your music career from the present-day standpoint? Is it something that you’re proud of or something that you had done in a totally different way?

Wow, what a great question! (pause) First of all, let me say that I’m very proud of it. I think there are things I would do differently, but I’m not sure I would say I would do it in a totally different way. I think I would make some different decisions at different points along the way. In retrospect you know what it means – we can all look back and say, “Oh shit, I wish I would have done this then!” I think the band might have had a different future if I would have made a couple of different decisions and if Kevin would have made a couple of different decisions along the way. I think the future of the band might have been different. But as it is now, I’m really proud of that. I got a lot of hard knocks, and that was the big reason why I got into the law school. I went to the law school when I was 33, and there you have to write your personal history, and they were all intrigued by my history as a musician, when I had to sit there and be interviewed by the board to see whether they’re gonna accept me in the school. Yeah, I’m proud of me, it’s a part of me, it’s part of what I am, it’s at the core of me, and nothing will ever change it. It’s really who I am. But I changed things about myself to allow me to adapt to life. I forced myself to do things to survive. There’s no doubt that inside me I’m still a guitar player, that’s who I am. I wish we could have been bigger, I wish I could have done more, but at the point that I walked away, it was when I could do it and say, “You know what? I don’t have any regrets.”

We’ve got just a couple of more questions, if you don’t mind. Have you ever been to Russia? What do you know about Russia?

I’ve never been there, I don’t know that much about it. I mean, I know where Russia is. (laughs)

That’s good because many people don’t!

You know, I’m an attorney, so I get that political thing in my brain a little bit. I would love to come over there, it’s such an unexplored part of the world for us here, because for so long it was sort of off-limits to us, you know what I mean? Now it’s fascinating, hey I’m drinking Polish vodka right now tonight… I’m fascinated by it, seriously I’m fascinated by this whole part of the world, and I’d love to come over there. I actually had a friend when I was in the Navy whose brother lived in Moscow. And my friend Alex went there to visit him for like three months, and he loved it, he said it was great, he just loved the people, he said it was awesome.

Are you interested in politics?

Yes, absolutely. I sort of have to be because of what I do, I have to stay abreath of what they’re doing, because what they do affects my work from day to day, and the decisions they make in Washington have a direct effect on what I tell my clients.

Well, that’s it. Thank you very much for the interview, it was great talking to you.

Well, no problem, I appreciate it. Actually your call got us thinking again of maybe we should continue with Kublai. I’ve been talking to Kevin recently, and before we didn’t talk about the band, we talked about some other extraneous business deals over the course of the last two months. Before I got your e-mail we really hadn’t talked about the band or doing music together too much. But once I got your e-mail, we started talking about it, we kinda started saying, “Well, you know, maybe we can do this again?” (cracks) We’ll see what happens.

Felix Yakovlev, Roman “Maniac” Patrashov
May 9, 2003
(p)Russian Darkside E-Zine

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