On April 11, 1983, after you were fired by Lars, you were put on a four-day bus journey while everyone else flew home. That must have felt like the longest ride of your life?
“There was a silver lining in that cloud, but I didn’t know it. I don’t look at that situation with the same eyes as when it happened. It’s almost like it all happened to a different person, I’ve grown up a lot since. Sometimes you need the time to assimilate what’s happened to see your part in it. Because I did have a part in it… I was definitely dangerous back then.”
What made you so dangerous?
“I had already punched James in the face and jeopardised [the band’s] physical and financial security. I understand why they wouldn’t want to take chances on me when there was so much riding on Metallica. But at the time I wished I got a second chance. Just, like, someone saying, ‘Hey, Dave, you’re drinking too much and please stop punching the singer in the face!’ I probably would’ve been fine with that.”
So, naturally, you decided to start a new, meaner and angrier band...
“The music was driven a lot by revenge and animosity towards my previous band. I guess we’re kinda friends now, but at the time I was pissed. Eventually I got to the point where I no longer cared, because what I was doing felt more important than what they were doing. Looking back now, I’m happy with how things have gone and wouldn’t change a thing. I would go through every single hurdle [again], because I love who I am now.”
Speaking of hurdles, you became a heroin addict after that. Wasn’t there enough poison in your veins at that point?
“I didn’t look at it as poison. It was more like a buffer when you’ve had your life’s work taken away from you, with a group of men spending every waking moment of their lives trying to discredit you, saying you’re not a good guitarist when you’re one of the best. That fucks with your head. Drinking and drugging wasn’t a great solution, but it kinda helped.”
You were living hand-to-mouth then, too, but in many ways you must have grown accustomed to that kind of existence…
“I was struggling to survive, there was a lot of self-preservation going on. We had gotten a pretty horrible record deal for $8,000 and the guy managing us took half the money up-front to go buy drugs. Nobody knew he wasn’t a real manager. I mean, we had our suspicions he was more of a drug dealer. And shit, we didn’t know better – we thought all rock managers were dealers.”