Dave Mustaine explained why he abandoned his concept for a Megadeth song about serial killers and repurposed “Night Stalkers” to be about military specialists instead.

The track appears on the new album The Sick, The Dying… and The Dead! and features guest vocalist Ice-T, who once served in the U.S. Army. In a new interview with Kerrang!, Mustaine said his initial inspiration was similar to what inspired the Rolling Stones to write “Midnight Rambler” about the Boston Strangler.

“‘Night Stalkers’ actually started out as a song about the Midnight Rambler and Night Stalker,” he said. “I hitchhiked a lot when I was a kid, and going up the Pacific Coast Highway could be scary stuff when they had the Hillside Strangler out there. I thought it could be cool to have a song about that period and how sketchy it could be for young people who were hitchhiking up and down the freeway.”

He added, "But when I started looking into the Night Stalker, the crimes that he had committed were so heinous that I couldn’t write about them. There was no reason to give that guy any further [attention], so I abandoned the idea."

That wasn’t the end of the song, though. “[A] while after that, a friend of mine was telling me about this helicopter division that’s based in Kentucky, right above where we live in Franklin,” Mustaine noted. “When I found out about this special-ops division of helicopter pilots who go in under the cover of darkness to carry out their missions – whether that’s rescuing people or clearing out the bad guys – it was perfect. Ice-T is on the song, too. I’ve known Ice for forever, since back in the Rust in Peace days, and we’ve been friends for a little while.” He said Ice-T’s previous service “meant he was perfect for this song.”

Listen to Megadeth's 'Night Stalkers'

Another memory helped form the song “Sacrifice,” which addresses black magic. “It’s about the stuff that I horsed around with when I was a kid: putting spells on people or at least thinking that that’s what I was doing,” Mustaine said.

"Watching things change. Hanging out with people who were gullible, and who believed in the power of that black magic. Whether you think that it’s real or not, a lot of the power of that stuff is to do with the person who’s looking it up," he added. "If you put enough into something, there’s a power in the mind to make you believe that it’s real."

Listen to Megadeth's 'Sacrifice'

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