Metalpaths had the honor to talk with the legendary Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. David talks about his new works and about the years that he was in Megadeth.
Hello David, it’s great doing an interview with you. Is everything ok?
Yes, things are very good. I’m always busy writing, recording and doing new things. Plus the phone is constantly ringing with people asking me to join them in the studio or on the stage. No complaints here!
How are things with F5? I’ve heard that you are busy with some recordings.
Yes, we began writing last year on tour and in December 06 we began making demos of the new material. We are finishing writing more stuff now and I hope to be making the next record this fall.
I guess you are going to be the producer, right?
With F5 I have my hand in all aspects of the band but as a proper producer I prefer to let an outsider do that chore. That way it allows me to be a “member amongst members” in the band rather than having to be the boss. Plus I like to be challenged by a producer in the studio and I think having that third party there to hear the songs in a new way is refreshing for the entire band’s perspective and helps raise the bar of everyone’s performances.
Are there any plans for touring?
Once the new record is done I’m sure we’ll be looking at some tour dates for F5.
You have worked with many big names such as Dream Theater, Soulfly etc. How was your co-operation? Is there anyone you would like to work with again or someone that really pissed you off?
On those they called and asked me to participate and I was glad to do so. I try leaving all doors open to everyone as you never know when the right time and place may present themselves to work together.
After so many years in the music industry, are you tired of playing? Have you thought of quitting it?
The thought of quitting never really comes into it as this is who I am, rather than something I do. I’m pretty flexible with letting the process flow.
And a few Megadeth questions now: What was the exact reason you left Megadeth? Of course everyone would like to read the answer.
I know people want to know all the gory details but simply put in 2002 the band closed up shop so I moved on to new things. Looking back on it now, I think that was a fateful opportunity for all of us. In my case, it provided me to the chance to branch out and really grow in my own right. I’ve since been involved in a bunch of new musical endeavors and worked with people from different generations, be it younger guys in F5 or classic rock statesmen like Montrose. I also did some other things in life, like graduating college with a business degree this past year and moving into other areas of business that I’ve always found intriguing. I guess it’s kind of like finally growing up!
How are things with the members of the band now? Have you lately talked to each other for any matter?
I’ve always remained friendly with any former members. Some of them, like Chris Poland, Marty Friedman, Al Pitrelli and Jimmy DeGrasso, I’ve remained close friends with.
What is your opinion about Marianne’s decision to publish the biography?
I would assume she can do whatever she wants.
Do you think that Dave Mustaine will give the permission?
I have no idea on that one.
Do you feel like after your breakaway with Megadeth you lost any fans?
I’m sure some fans will only adore what that band does as a group, regardless of who’s in it. At the same time, I’m sure there are many fans that will only want to see me back in that setting once again and won’t care about anything else I do outside of it. I understand, I’m a music fan myself.
Ok let’s change subject because I understand that it is a bit annoying to talk about this situation. Could you tell me your favorite bass players?
Sure, Gene Simmons, Steve Harris, Geddy Lee, Bob Daisley, Geezer Butler, to name a few.
Tell us a few things about your book. How did you decide to write it and which is that part you’d advice someone to notice more?
In 1994 is when the idea hit me to write the book. Initially, I didn’t even know what to write about but ideas starting coming to me to share my experience (good and bad!) with young musicians. I would have bought a book from Gene Simmons or Steve Harris if they’d written one, so I knew fans and the next generation musicians would probably be into hearing some real dirt on the issue of being a career musician. I wrote it all in short, concise chapters so you don’t get bored. I’d recommend the entire read rather than one short bit.
About your clinics, do they attract a lot of people? Cause here in Greece we barely listen about them because it seems like musicians do not give the proper attention to practice or lessons.
Historically, guitar clinics are the biggest draw here in the USA but my bass clinics do very well. I try to keep them informative, instructional on all levels, funny and informal, too. If people want to see me perform they can come to a show. But in a clinic I view it as an up close personal ‘hang’ with me and my bass. Basically, I keep it professional but causal enough that the audience can get inside my brain about music.
Which is your favorite album you ever recorded and why?
I like the F5 record because the songs are all very different from each other and the parts are all executed so well. As we recorded it was so amazing to hear the songs come together and sound so big in the studio. It was my first real solo record, of sorts, and I feel it was musically a great accomplishment for me and the band. Aside from that, the Temple of Brutality record was great fun as we knocked it out in one week down in Florida. I never even met any of those guys before. It was a blind date with bass in hand, for sure! I like taking those type of chances with new musical settings. When all was said and done most of the records I’e ever done were positive experiences, even if they were challenging at the time I made them. I find most good records require some challenges which is a good indicator you are stretching yourself outside your comfort zone. That’s usually when you come up with your best stuff and another reason I don’t like to self-produce records.
And which was the worst one?
I don’t think any of the records flat out sucked to make them.
With the exception of metal music, what else do you listen to at your spare time?
It’s mostly the comedy channel on XM Radio. I like a good laugh to calm the nonsense in life!
Thanks a lot David, good luck in the future and I hope we’ll meet you soon!
Thank you and look forward to seeing you soon.
Interview: Rena Koutsou.
Translated by: Thanos Koulouris.