MEGADETH's DAVID ELLEFSON: 'We've Always Been A Forward-Thinking Band'

MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was recently interviewed by Metal A Day. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):

On the changes he’s witnessed over the course of his career:

David: “It’s interesting in MEGADETH‘s career and our age, I guess, to see… We started in kind of this old guard. I kind of look at it like we got in just under the wire when you could have a major label deal and actually make a little bit of money and be able to support yourself as a musician, but as the jazz saying goes, you’re only as good as your last gig, so you have to keep putting out good, quality stuff. Over the years, — technically, Megadeth, Arizona [the original incarnation of the band’s web site] — that was a game-changing website. We were the first band to ever have a website. Capitol Records built it for us. We’ve always been a forward-thinking band, with different technology, making records, everything, but that really turned the corner for us. Now to watch the world change… we’ve got young fans, we’ve got teenagers again. In 35 years of MEGADETH, we’re really in our fourth generation, because about every ten years, a new cycle changes over.”

On the recently released remixed and remastered reissue of the MEGADETH‘s debut album, “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!” :

David: “‘The Final Kill’, we’re calling it, because we hopefully won’t keep remixing it. It’s sounds really good. Mark Lewis did an excellent job mixing it. It was definitely necessary. Dave [Mustaine] and Bill Kennedy went in and worked on it when we were working on ‘The World Needs A Hero’ and remixed it and radically improved it from where it was, but we just decided… there were two albums that always bothered us in our catalog, which was the mix of ‘So Far So Good… So What!’, which we felt was just too slick, kind of polished – because it was recorded pretty raw, pretty dry — and also ‘Killing Is My Business’, which we just didn’t have any money. It was a little independent label and we didn’t have any money and it was our first time in the studio with the band, and it’s kind of that maiden voyage. Some records [like] GUNS N’ ROSES‘Appetite For Destruction’, as I understood, they took a long time to put that together. They had major-label money; they had real A&R; they had a lot of people guiding [them]. We didn’t have that. It’s just a tiny little label; they handed us some money — ‘Go make a record and give us the master.’ We were kind of left to our own devices. We had grand ideas, but we didn’t have enough capital and resources to get there until we went to Capitol.”

On the bass riff he’s most proud of:

David: “I always liked ‘Dawn Patrol’, just because it’s something I came up with, but another one I like is ‘Go To Hell’. I love that. I play it in the jam room all the time. There’s other ones like ‘Ashes In Your Mouth’, ’99 Ways To Die’… even ‘Angry Again’. The bass kind of just plays the guitar parts, but it’s just a really cool movement — [sings riff] — and then puts a nice kind of floor under it, just riding the part. Those are some of my favorites — and ‘Five Magics’ probably being my all-time favorite.”

On getting sober:

David: “In 1990, I got cleaned up, and that was a really hard corner to turn. I don’t fault anybody for it, because I know how hard it is to come out of that and get clean, and in my case, kind of be restored back to this kind of youthful, fun kid that I was when I grew up on the farm in Minnesota who just loved playing the bass. I was kind of mucking the dream up by partying… I’m not going to lie — I enjoyed a lot of it. The ten years I did it, the first seven or eight were certainly a lot of fun. The last couple… when it’s hard to leave home because you’re strung out on drugs and you can’t travel, that’s a problem. For me, my getting cleaned up — I needed to for self-preservation, but also because it was getting in the way of my love of music and playing, and getting in the way of what our goals were, what we wanted to accomplish with the band. It was like, ‘One of them’s going to go — the band or the drugs. The drugs gotta go.'”

On MEGADETH‘s musicality:

David: “It’s funny — I listen to a lot of music, especially when I’m flying in between shows. MEGADETH, for as heavy as it can be, it’s almost like we’re not really a metal band. There’s so much other musical complexities that are going on in there. The earlier stuff with Gar [Samuelson] and Chris [Poland] — those guys were fusion guys. I had played in jazz band growing up as a kid, so I kind of was familiar with what they were doing, so I made a nice fit in the rhythm section. Dave [Mustaine]. As much as he writes these incredible riffs, he grew up — his sisters listened to Motown. The musical stuff he references — David Bowie, this kind of stuff — it’s not metal, so it’s funny, MEGADETH being this ‘metal’ band, has this really wide palette of musical information.”

“Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! – The Final Kill” was released via Century Media/Legacy on June 8.

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MEGADETH's DAVID ELLEFSON: 'We've Always Been A Forward-Thinking Band'
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