We here at Metality UAE just got an amazing opportunity to interview David Ellefson, bassist of Megadeth thanks to Live Nation and Gulf Bike Week. Below is part one of our two part interview. Megadeth will be taking to a stage here in Dubai on October 18th at Gulf Bike Week. For more info about Gulf Bike Week and how to buy tickets click here.
Hey David, how are you doing?
Am good, having a little tour break and a relaxing for a couple of weeks.
Megadeth has been around for almost 30 years you must have had some amazing moments with the band, can you talk us through some stand out moments.
Just the founding of the band was pretty incredible, I moved from a state called Minnesota in the mid-west farming community Of the US on a hunch and blind ambition and drove to California. Dave and I met about a week later and he had just parted ways with Metallica a couple of months before that and the chances of somebody reinventing themselves from that situation like Dave did is pretty remarkable, it is a kind of once in a lifetime thing and obviously for Dave and I to meet and be able to be partners for so many years and through all the line-up changes and everything it is just the fact of something unique – you start something and it goes on to be successful, that is the great thing, the rest is just the details that you fill in along the way.
Was there any moment where you stood back and thought wow we have really made it?
No it is the funniest thing, when you are in there doing it you never really look and go ‘we are there’ because I think the goals always change. The thing about Megadeth in the very beginning is we were very deliberate about everything, we talked everything through, we talked about the stage set, the look, the sound, what we wear, the dress code, the whole thing.
It was very deliberate, as much as the meeting and putting the band together was random, the vision of the band has been very focused the whole time, but I think when you are in the trenches doing it you are working and I mean I guess there are moments, like ‘The Big Four’ was one of those moments where you step back and go WOW.
Even the 20th anniversary Rust in Peace because that is such a fan favourite record that we did a few years ago and even this year doing the 20th anniversary of Countdown to Extinction, which is personally one of my favourite records from the Megadeth catalogue to step back and go ‘WOW ‘. Here we are coming up on our 30 year mark next year as a band and here we are 20 years later celebrating the success of one of our biggest records all over again. It is more like there are moments where you go ‘WOW; I guess we really did something important didn’t we?’
Which is your favourite Megadeth song to play?
I don’t have one I don’t really have a favourite anything. I don’t have a favourite colour, food or anything. I kind of roll with life you know and things move me in different ways, I think one of the songs that has become one of our staple live songs is certainly Symphony of Destruction and a lot of that was based on Argentina coming up with this saying during the riff and during the verse the ‘Megadeth, Megadeth Avante Megadeth’ and that chant has now become world famous and all the cultures around the planet have picked up on it, so that is certainly a fun one.
Holy Wars is a staple, Peace Sells is always fun to play. There are different songs along the way like Public Enemy No1 from the last album Th1rt3en is one that’s really started to be a good live show favourite for the fans. Whatever songs make the fans happy; those are the ones that make me happy.
What is the process of creating Megadeth songs like, who does what in the band?
It is interesting you should ask that because as much as we are in the midst of a tour we are also starting to write and compile new ideas for the next record and I think it goes a couple of different ways.
I think all of us create; we come up with ideas, whether they are riffs and things like that. Megadeth music is music that is constructed out of many small parts, unlike a song where you would sit down with an acoustic guitar and write chord changes and vocals melodies over it, it does not happen like that. Ours is more here is a really cool riff, here is another one that goes with that and here is a really cool chorus. Sometimes we put the music together and then the vocals and the lyrics over the top of it are what really define the verses and choruses.
Has Megadeth ever considered moving away from the thrash metal style and experimenting with the newer styles or using them within songs?
No not really, and I say that because at times managers and various people from the outside who look at it from a business perspective have proposed those ideas to us, and any time we have ever got close to it, it never felt authentic, it always felt like we were trying to be someone else and felt like we were trying to chase something. Megadeth’s success is because we are one of the inventors and the creators and if you chasing something you will never be known as an original.
TO CHECK OUT PART 2, CLICK HERE.