Interview: What rattles Dirk Verbeuren’s cage when he’s not Megadething?

Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth backstage in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

2018 marks 35 years of Megadeth. Roppongi Rocks decided to check in with our mate Dirk Verbeuren to see what he gets up to when he’s not behind the drum kit in Megadeth.

Recently you were a guest DJ at a club in California. How did that come about and how did it go? “A friend of mine named Jason Todd, singer for Spades & Blades, is the house DJ at the Slide Bar in Fullerton. He has a guest over once a month and in November I happened to be the lucky guy. It was a ton of fun, just a chill night, lots of drinks and loud as hell metal!”

Do you often do guest appearances as a DJ? “This was a first. I’d be happy to DJ on a more regular basis. When something new catches my attention I always feel this irresistible urge to play it for everyone and DJ’ing would definitely scratch that itch. I used to co-host an extreme metal radio show many years ago and that was a total blast.”

Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson and Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth backstage in Tokyo in 2017.

Do you ever spin any of your own records when you’re DJ’ing? “I spun a couple of Megadeth and Soilwork tracks because I figured people would expect me to. And I was right because I got requests for more. You can’t escape playing some classic tunes but hopefully those in attendance discovered new music as well. I know that’s what I would want.”

You’re well-known for your work in extreme metal. But I also know that you listen to many different kinds of music. How does your diverse music taste show in what you play as a DJ? “Well, this particular night was metal themed. I had to resist playing Run The Jewels or Autechre. My tastes are all across the board and tend to include a lot of weird stuff. A set spanning my collection would probably frustrate the hell out of some folks so I should totally go for that one day. Haha!”

Current favourite tracks that you like to spin? “Dodecahedron‘s album “Kwintessens” is my number one record of 2017. These guys are pushing the black metal envelope in a fascinating way. New Godflesh and Portal are high on my list too. There’s a Swedish band named Chronus which is killer on all fronts, and I’m not just saying that because my wife and I manage them. Other than that, let’s see… Dead Cross, Aevangelist, Ho99o9, Satyricon, JK Flesh… Those are just a few of the artists I’ve been hooked on this past year. I have an ever-growing list of new music to check out.”

Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth backstage in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

How do you deal with ridiculous requests from guests when you’re out DJ’ing? Do you sometimes feel forced to play some shite music you don’t like because you receive requests? “If I’m the DJ you’re not gonna hear anything lame. Shite requests will go right where they belong: down the crapper.”

Your wife Hannah Verbeuren is a talented photographer. I know she took some terrific photos for your Bent Sea records. How involved are you in each other’s work? “Thanks! Her work amazes me time and time again. She has an incredible eye and manipulates light as if it was the easiest thing in the world. We tend to do our own thing because it’s best to separate business and marriage. Every now and then we’ll collaborate such as for Bent Sea. I entirely trust her judgment and sense of composition. That goes for the layout of those records as well. Whenever I work with graphics or pictures, I always go to Hannah to make sure what I’m doing visually is cool.”

Apart from DJ’ing and doing session and guest appearances as a drummer with other artists, what keeps you busy when you’re not occupied with your day job in Megadeth? “I teach drums in person and online. It’s fun and keeps me on my toes. I also do drum clinics and workshops for Tama, Meinl and Roland. Outside of the musical realm, we have two dogs and two cats we spend a lot of time with. And with friends as well of course. I’ve been a video game fanatic ever since my folks got me a C64 back in 1982. It’s the perfect destresser for me. When there’s free time I’ll usually be toiling away at ‘Dark Souls’ or some other ridiculously intense game.”

Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth backstage in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

You have always been involved with multiple projects and bands as well as teaching. In recent years you have been rather busy with Megadeth. Do you still have time for as many outside projects as in the past? “My focus is on Megadeth. I’m in the midst of assembling ideas for the follow-up to ‘Dystopia’. It’s very exciting to be a part of that whole process for the first time along with Dave, David and Kiko. It’ll be a great learning experience. My time for other projects has always been limited because Soilwork was super busy as well. But I always make it work. Speaking of which, there’s some new Bent Sea stuff on the way. There can never be enough music and drumming in my life!”

Dirk Verbeuren in Tokyo in 2016. Photo: Stefan Nilsson

Cheers. Keep grinding. “Cheers Stefan, you can count on that!”