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David Ellefson (MEGADETH, ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE): less is more

David Ellefson (MEGADETH, ALTITUDES & ATTITUDE): less is more
BANDS : Altitudes and Attitude, Megadeth

The bass player of the group Megadeth, David Ellefson has become in recent years a constant presence in Metalfan pages. Recently, David has joined forces with Frank Bello (Anthrax) in a new project called Altitudes & Attitude. So we didn't loose much time and have invited David to a new discussion. Details in the lines below:

David Ellefson (Megadeth) & Frank Bello (Anthrax) = Altitudes & Attitude
Metalfan: Hi David and welcome back to Metalfan.RO! How are going things lately for you?

David Ellefson: I’m doing well with a lot of great things going on this year.

Metalfan: Not to long ago you've started a new band with Frank Bello from Anthrax. Could you tell us more about this project? How did it all start?

David Ellefson: It started as an idea in our Hartke bass clinics a few years back, during the BIG 4 shows in Europe. It seemed to me that Frank and I should create some original music for the clinics and that is where the idea started, which is now called “Altitudes & Attitude”.

Metalfan: Could you tell us more about the meaning of the name Altitudes & Attitude? What do you try to express?
David Ellefson: That phrase hit me one day out of nowhere and it seemed fitting for this project because it describes the intrinsic personalities of the two of us. Plus, I thought, “we’ve flown to every altitude and experienced every attitude in this business” in and many ways it sums of the diversity of our music….some with levity and some with attitude.

Metalfan: What it is different in Altitudes & Attitude from Megadeth and Anthrax? Musically speaking...
David Ellefson: I think with our bands the genre was defined by what we created so many years ago. But, with a new project like A&A it is a blank canvas for us to create upon. In fact, having it NOT sound like our main bands makes it that much more interesting because otherwise we should just take these songs to our bands!

Metalfan: On January 14 you have released your self titled debut EP. Could you tell us few words about the three songs from it?
David Ellefson: I sent Frank several music ideas, the first was Here Again, which was pretty much completed except the middle section, which we created in the studio together. We all agreed that it was the attitude song we needed for the EP. 

Tell The World was the first song Frank brought to me and I was sold immediately.  It was just great as it was; music, lyrics and as a complete composition. I still get goose bumps when I hear it because I think it is a statement Frank really needed to make, to tell the world about this whole other side of his creative life that is now coming to fruition with this project. 

Booze & Cigarettes was also something Frank had just written and it also was a complete composition. I added the bass line to it and it really started to get some pep and motion to the groove.

Some songs just fall into place right out of the gate while others need some tweaking. All three of these songs were natural compositions for us and we really had fun working in the studio with Jay Ruston, bouncing ideas off each other to make them as strong as we could. 

Metalfan: Do you have in mind to ask Gus G (Firewind) to step in as a full time musician? What do you think about his work?
David Ellefson: I’d love to have him on board for everything we do but he’s a bit busy these days! His involvement began when we were in the studio.  I was really wanting to get some shredding guitar solos on “Here Again” because I heard that track being a song with vocals as well as something that could be arranged as a stand alone backing track for our clinics.  Jay said “I’ll contact Gus and see if he can throw down some licks for us” and within a day he sent back the killer shredding you hear on the EP. Gus is such a creative player and able to just come up with pretty much anything you ask of him.

Metalfan: Where did you have recorded this EP? How did you end up to work with Jay Ruston?
David Ellefson: Frank brought up the idea of working with Jay, and we spoke to him about it at Bass Player Live in LA back in 2012. Jay is also a bass player so he totally got what we were looking to achieve with this record.

From there, it was all done over the course of two sessions. We initially laid down our guitar and bass tracks in May 2013 over at Jay’s studio in Sherman Oaks, California, when we were all in town for the Golden Gods award show. We tracked Jeff Fiedl’s drums at a studio in Burbank during this time as well, so the three songs were in pretty good shape out of the gate.

Our second session was in September 2013 when Frank and I were back in California for the Battle of San Bernardino show with Iron Maiden. We stayed behind after the show and finished up the overdubs. Jay mixed it, and from there it was done…a very genuine and creative project for sure. 

Metalfan: Do you plan to release a full-length album with Altitudes & Attitude in the near future? Do you have any songs in the sleeve? Hahaha!
David Ellefson: I think the beauty of doing this EP is that it sets the stage for us to come back and do more songs, even if just few at a time. Frank and I have very busy schedules so doing a few songs at a time is certainly more manageable and it allows us to keep the quality really high rather than forcing 12 songs into a full-length album with each outing.  Sometimes, less is more.

Metalfan: Altitudes & Attitude it is just a studio project or do you intend to tour in the near future? It would be hard for you and Frank doing this because you are also involved in Megadeth and he's in Anthrax?
David Ellefson: Yes, scheduling is a concern for actually taking this on the road but we do have a show in Chicago we are going to try on March 22. It will really be a sort of combined clinic and show because that is the rapport Frank and I have onstage and this project allows for us to be up close and personal with our fans, rather than just being rock stars up on some distant stage.  We also played at the recent Metal Masters 5 event in Anaheim, CA during WNAMM. So, it’s a cool little project that can rear its head organically rather than forcing it.

Metalfan: Last year you have released Super Collider and started your World Tour here in Bucharest, Romania. I have to say that this have been the most important thing (at least for me as a metalfan), when I'm thinking about the metal scene from here and the bands that have played here. How did it all happen?
David Ellefson: Yes, that was a great way to kick off the tour! Romania is a really special place and has such a unique history, culture and spirit.  I’m not sure how it came to be that we started there but I’m glad Romania got to see the launch of that album’s tour.

Metalfan: Looking back at Super Collider, what do you feel about this album?
David Ellefson: I think it is a really good, diverse record. As Megadeth is some 30 years into it’s career, it’s difficult to make one album that satisfies everyone. In many ways, Super Collider was a record that summed up our 30 years and in some ways was appropriate to commemorate that milestone anniversary in 2013.

Metalfan: Not to long ago you have released your book titled My Life with Deth. How did you start to work with Joel McIver?
David Ellefson: Joel has interviewed me over the years on various bass related topics. When I rejoined Megadeth in 2010 he reached out to me to start my first autobiography, which is My Life With Deth.  Because of our familiarity with each other in the business, and as friends, it was a very natural and organic process. I’m glad he urged me to do it because his experience as a bass enthusiast and Megadeth historian, helped the process unfold very naturally.

Metalfan: What do you most like at his writing style? Which is your favorite work of him beside My Life with Deth?
David Ellefson: I think the main thing that worked so well between us is that Joel knew I was already an author myself so we could really co-write together. It wasn’t as if I was inexperienced and he had to coax things out of me to do all the writing himself. We were very much a team. Plus, he had prior experience with these types of biographical books and it was helpful for me to have someone to navigate the waters in regards to the process of how the manuscript would lay out. Just like starting a band, you need to be connected to people in the industry to in the game and Joel was that guy for me on this book.

Metalfan: What do people tell you at the signings that you've done for it? Which was the most impressive thing that you've heard regarding you / your work?
David Ellefson: I think the main compliment I hear is that it is a heart felt, inspiring story.  To have a story is one thing but to have it really move people is another thing entirely, kind of like writing a song.

In fact, some of the very first emails I got were from metal head priests and ministers who had read the book and really loved it. To have their approval out of the gate was really uplifting and validating to me because in an odd sort of twist, they understood my story from a head banger’s perspective and from a theological bent, too. How ironic, that both of these worlds would peacefully coexist all these years later, and that in some way I was able to be a vessel to bring them together, especially when such hostility used to surround religion and heavy metal!

Metalfan: During the last couple of years there been a lot of riots in different countries from around the world. Where are we heading?
David Ellefson: I think there have always been riots since the earliest days of mankind. It’s often the only way we can express ourselves when oppressed. Sometimes we have no choice but to stand up and overthrow when were are in situations that won’t hear our voice.

Metalfan: Thank you David! It was a honor to talk again with you! In the end would you like to add something else or to send few words to our readers?
David Ellefson: I’d like to say greetings to all of the people in Romania. I look forward to seeing you all soon. Thank you for your unending support….
Autor: H.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Megadeth,

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