DU Alumni / Magazine Feature

Guitarist and alumnus Chris Broderick rocks out nightly as lead guitarist for Megadeth

Lamont School of Music alumnus Chris Broderick became lead guitarist for Megadeth in 2008. Photo illustration: Wayne Armstrong

A guitarist in local heavy-metal bands when he first started studying at the Lamont School of Music in the 1990s, Chris Broderick took a break from his studies when he was enlisted to play in Colorado-based band Jag Panzer in 1997. That led to a stint as a touring guitarist with Seattle-based band Nevermore, then to his current gig—lead guitarist for thrash-metal legend Megadeth, the band founded in 1983 by ousted Metallica member Dave Mustaine. Along the way, Broderick found time to finish his bachelor of music in 2005.

We sat down with Broderick to talk about his days at DU, his music career and more.


Q: You grew up in Lakewood and started playing guitar at age 10. How did you get started?

A: When I was in elementary school, I lost all my friends in one clique that I had, so I met a new group of friends that played guitar, and I was always bugging my friend: Can I play your guitar? Can I play your guitar? Finally I picked up my own, and the rest was history. That’s what I knew I wanted to do.


Q: Other than the fact that you lived so close, what brought you to the University of Denver?

A: It was [classical guitar instructor] Ricardo Iznaola who really drew me there initially—finding out that he had such a great reputation. I thought about going out to USC in California, but I heard about the cost of tuition and stuff like that, and I was like, “I think I’ll stay here,” since we also have a really good guitar faculty at DU as well.


Q: You joined Jag Panzer in 1997, during your time at Lamont. How did that gig happen?

A: It was funny. I was actually thinking about changing to a psychology major, and I had enrolled in all these classes, and they contacted me and said, “We need a touring guitarist, our guitarist just quit, we’re going to be doing a monthlong tour over in Europe, would you do it?” And I was like, “No, I just registered for all these classes.” Then I thought about it that night after I turned them down, and I was like, “You’re an idiot. College is always there.” So I called them back the next day to see if it was still available, and that was history.


Q: You became a touring member of Nevermore a few years later; what’s it like to get those calls, whether it’s from those two bands or from Dave Mustaine?

A: It’s always awesome. It’s always great to have opportunities.


Q: The next big step in your career was joining Megadeth in 2008. How did that happen? The same way as Jag Panzer?

A: Almost. I had just started to think about getting a degree in electrical engineering. I started getting into circuit design and stuff because I wanted to build a guitar preamp—which would no longer be relevant because of all the new technology that’s out, it’s moving so fast—but I bought myself a PiCo board and wanted to start programming that, then I got into the idea of controlling electricity and how cool that was. I had just started to think about that, then I got the call from Megadeth.


Q: Had you played with those guys on tour, or what was the connection?

A: The connection was that Glenn Drover, who was the prior guitarist, who had left, he and his brother Shawn, who still plays [in the band], got together and were deciding who potentially could replace him, and my name came up.


Q: When you play these songs that were written before you joined the band, how much leeway do you have to change things around? Or do you play exactly as your predecessors wrote them?

A: I try and do them as much justice as I can, to tell you the truth. Not only is it their material, but it’s even moved beyond that. It’s moved to the public, to the fans—it’s their material now. They want to hear what they know the song to be, not my interpretation of it.


Q: What’s the collaboration like on the newer songs, the studio albums you’ve played on? Is it Dave saying, “Here’s what you play,” or do you have more freedom?

A: We definitely all have our input, but at the end of the day it’s got to sound like Megadeth. So who better to go to than Mustaine? A lot of the sound is going to be his, but we put the icing on top, I’ll put it that way.



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