Guitarist Chris Broderick hit the headlines when he and fellow Megadeth member Shaun Drover quit the band simultaneously in 2015. Effectively leaving Dave Mustaine with half a band, what followed was even more surprising, when he and Shawn went on to form Act Of Defiance. Now on album number two, with the just released ‘Old Scars, New Wounds’, the guitarist is more confident than ever that saying goodbye to his former band was the right thing to do; “You know something’s got to be wrong when you’re about to play a Big Four show at Yankee Stadium, and you’re not in a good mood”, he says. Endgame; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Chris, how are you today?
I’m doing pretty good. I have the day off, and I don’t have to teach today, so I plan on getting in a little practice, as much as the interview schedule will allow me to. But it’s great to spread the word about our new CD ‘Old Scars, New Wounds’.
Even at this stage in your career, you still take time to practice?
Oh yeah. It’s a never ending quest. I’ll never be done practicing, and I’m actually very happy about that fact.
Does that mean that you’re learning all the time, or are you pushing yourself to perfect what you already know?
It’s both. For me, I always look at other influences for developing either; new techniques, or new tonal moves, new chord moves, and new tonalities. The way that you use those, once you’ve learned a new tonality, for example, that can change over time, so it’s never ending. Also, I think all technique, and my ability, it can always be better, that’s for sure.
Act Of Defiance’s new album’ Old Scars, New Wounds’ has just been released, and your style of playing is instantly identifiable on it.
I’ve always attributed that to other really good players; whether it’s Marty Friedman who you can instantly identify, or Eddie Van Halen, or George Lynch, or any number of other players, and while I’ve always loved that in other players, I’ve somewhat always considered myself a bit of a chameleon in terms of my technique and my ability. So I’ve never felt like I have that particular type of status, so it’s good to hear! I am very proud of that fact, if that’s starting to emerge, and I do feel like I’m getting more comfortable with how I like to write and the things I like to do on the guitar.
How does it feel to be on album number two already, with Act Of Defiance?
One of the funniest things for me, is that right off the bat after [2015 debut] ‘Birth And The Burial’, a lot of people were talking about “the sophomore curse”; you know, how the initial CD comes out and people love it, and then the second CD comes out and it’s garbage! So, I was very interested in how people were going to interpret it, because we put so much into it, just like the first one. But I think ‘Old Scars, New Wounds’ had a little bit more time to develop. We had more time to go back and look at the song structures and the melodies and all of that stuff, and shape them a little bit more. So we’re all extremely proud of our second CD release.
It’s a pretty brutal album, right from the first track ‘M.I.A’.
Yeah, I think overall, in terms of how heavy it is, but I think also interspersed in there you’ll find very melodic moments, and also some variation too in the songs. It’s not all on ten, it’s not all in your face, all of the time, and that’s one thing I really like about it.
‘Overexposure’ is a great example of the album’s heavy, yet melodic style; is that the sort of balance you were looking for?
Yeah, I think so. For us, it’s not that we were looking for anything very specific, it’s just that we wanted to music and the vocals to be cohesive. We wanted something where if the music is heavy; the vocals are heavy, and if the music is more melodic; the vocals would follow suit.
Unusually for you, Act Of Defiance is a single guitar band; how does that compare to playing in two-guitar bands?
Overall, I think it’s much more difficult. You’re trying to carry the sound, and the weight of the guitar section all on your own, so I work really hard to try and make that feasible, live. I have talked to some friends and other guitarists about potentially going out as a two-guitar band, but logistically, that creates problems as well, in terms of making sure it’s worth their while to go out with us, and accommodating them as well, and then the idea becomes; “Would they want to be a part of the band as well?” So I haven’t decided to really broach that issue just yet. I actually am a huge fan of dual guitar bands, and I love the interaction that two guitarists can have with each other.
Going back to the start of the band, what were the greatest challenges in launching Act Of Defiance from scratch?
The biggest challenges were really just getting everything in line. When Shawn and I decided to do Act Of Defiance, we had some musical ideas that each of us had, and we were frantically writing material and searching for a vocalist, and shopping different labels to potentially sign with, and all kinds of logistics. So we went from that, somewhere in December of 2014, to having been signed to a label with a full band having product, and we turned in the CD on May 1st of 2015. So we had a lot to work on, we had a lot of writing to do, and we had a lot of things to get in line so that it could happen.
The band came into being after half of Megadeth suddenly up and left, virtually on the same day; was it really a coincidence, you and Shawn leaving so close?
No, it was not a coincidence, but it was an individual decision for each of us. I had honestly been thinking about parting ways for probably a year and a half. It was a heavy decision, and there were a lot of considerations. What tipped the scales was when Dave [Mustaine] had called us and wanted to start working on the next CD, because for me, personally, I just knew my heart wasn’t in it. I could just tell that I wasn’t ‘there’, and I knew it was time to go off and do my own thing. And apparently, Shawn had pretty much the same feelings, because when he left, he actually quit six hours before I did, and when he did that, I knew he had made the right decision, so I decided to leave as well.
So was it a no-brainer for the two of you to start working together after Megadeth?
It was pretty quickly after the fact, because Shawn and I were talking about why we left; you know; “What were the main reasons for you leaving?”, and we talked about the ideas that we had, and we wanted to get them out, and so then that quickly became; “Hey, let’s just do a CD and get out these ideas”, and then from there, it quickly went to; “Well screw it, let’s just put together a band and make a real go of this”. That’s how Act Of Defiance got formed.
Did the poor reception of ‘Super Collider’, your final album with Megadeth, contribute to your decision to leave?
It did, yes, because for me, it wasn’t musically where I wanted to be. But Megadeth, ultimately, was never about musically where I wanted to be; you know, Megadeth is ‘Megadeth’, and that’s basically, that’s the band. It’s not like I had any real say in how that band sounded or anything like that, so ultimately, that did contribute to my departure.
Was it tough to be doing that tour, after reading those bad reviews?
Not really, because I think a few of us had called it out, and knew that it was going to be received that way. We anticipated that that was going to be the review, long before it was released.
Why do you think it failed so badly; was it perhaps the perceived change in direction after the heavier albums that had come before it?
I think so, and I quite honestly think it was the perceived sense of change in direction. But, to Dave’s credit, he laboured hard over that CD. He really worked hard to make that CD sound the way that it did, and whether you agree with that or not, you should give credit to where credit is due when somebody puts a lot of work into it.
What were your highlights of your time with Megadeth?
The highlights for me were really the fans, and the crowds. One of the highlights was, there’s this venue in the San Francisco Bay Area called the Cow Palace, and I remember sneaking out to the line of fans and just interviewing some of them kind of incognito, and interacting with them. And then of course, the Big Four shows [with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax], they were just unreal. They were almost uncomprehendable to this day, how cool and awesome that was. To me, it just all revolves around the fans and the moments when we were playing on stage, and the fans were just a big part of it.
We’ve just passed the sixth anniversary of the final Big Four show at Yankee Stadium in New York. Rumours persist that Megadeth almost didn’t play that day.
Yeah. It was very tough, and Shawn has said something very eloquent to this affect, he said; “You know something’s got to be wrong [in the band], when you’re about to play a Big Four show at Yankee Stadium, and you’re not in a good mood”. It’s very telling, because that show was awesome, but it definitely had some tense moments.
Bringing things back up to date, and with the Act Of Defiance album released, thoughts must be turning to live dates.
We’re planning on touring extensively on this CD. We had plans actually to go out the day after the CD comes out on 29th September, but there were issues with the tour, so now it’s looking like we’re going to go out in North America in early 2018. From there we’re going to be looking at getting over to Europe and doing some festivals, and we’re looking at stuff for the Pacific Rim, potentially, and also South America.
Finally, what else have you got going on for the rest of the year?
Well, the guitar teaching never ends. I’ve taught now, consistently, since the mid to early nineties, and even through my extensive touring with Act Of Defiance and Megadeth and every other band, I’ve maintained students, so the teaching never ends. So I plan on doing that, but we plan on really pushing this CD hard in terms of media content; we’re going to have a lot more interesting videos coming out for it, and stuff like that up until the point where we just hop on the tour bus and hit the road!
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Act Of Defiance’s ‘Old Scars, New Wounds’ is out now, via Metal Blade Records.