Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine was diagnosed with throat cancer in May 2019 and beat the illness later that same year. Now in an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, Mustaine's radiation oncologist Anthony Cmelak reveals he helped write the lyrics to the new Megadeth song "Dogs Of Chernobyl."
Cmelak, the Director of Head and Neck Radiotherapy and Director of the Functional Radiosurgery Program in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said Mustaine was looking for descriptive and accurate ways to portray the effects of radiation in the song.
"I think he wanted descriptive terminology on how your bodily functions would change after exposure to massive doses of radiation," he said. "He also wanted a flair of someone being left behind… I geared toward that and it came around very quickly."
In a recent interview, both Mustaine and guitarist Kiko Loureiro discussed what it was like working on The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! as Mustaine battled cancer.
"I could see he was tired. He was coming from chemo and he was still showing up for work every day," Loureiro remembers. "When you see him doing this, you’re like, 'Fuck yeah, let's work on this album, man!' It was very inspiring to see him come in and pick up his guitar and not slow down. The songs, the whole thing. Everything was there. Nothing can destroy this guy, you know? We were like, 'Are you sure you want to work today? If you go home, we can still work on some stuff.' And he'd always say, 'No way.' He wanted to be there. And he put everything into the songs."
Megadeth leader Mustaine added how encouraging his bandmates were during the recording. "It was great to work with Kiko and Dirk (Verbeuren, drums) for three months in Nashville in the summer of 2019 to make these demos into songs. I would get to the studio and they would all greet me with hugs, high fives and pats on the back. All I got was encouragement. I'd play something and it was: 'Great solo, Dave.' Just encouragement, encouragement, encouragement. And I think besides making a great record, we've made a great band."