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David Ellefson (MEGADETH): a solid faith life

David Ellefson (MEGADETH): a solid faith life
BANDS : Megadeth

Not many heavy metal bands have undergone so many lineup changes like Megadeth: seven guitar players and six drummers have come and gone between 1983 and 2002. But the bass player remained. David "Junior" Ellefson stood by his friend David Mustaine through thick and thin, until the end. Or at least, what it appeared as the end, back in 2002, when Mustaine suffered a freak accident to his left hand. Megadeth resurfaced in 2004 with The System Has Failed, the first album ever recorded without Junior. Two more followed. But the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace brought the two Dave of Megadeth together again and here we are today, eagerly awaiting the release of the Th1rt3enth album of the band. David Ellefson has gracefully agreed to shed some light on the matter and on many other matters, actually, as you will see.




Metalfan: Hello David and welcome to Metalfan! How’s business these days?
David Ellefson: Things are good in our world these days.

Metalfan: Tell us a bit about your playing style, what techniques do you mainly use and the role and the influence of the bass guitar in the music of Megadeth.
David Ellefson: I play mainly with a pick and that is partly for tone reasons and also to be able to play very precisely with the guitar patterns within our songs. The riffs often require that I jump in and play along with them while at other times the song itself requires that I play simple thundering lines to support a gigantic sounding riff. The pick allows me to do both with complete precision.

Metalfan: You've been playing the bass guitar for 30 years now, how did your playing style change over time?
David Ellefson: At first I got into playing bass because of my love of rock n roll. Bands I heard as a 10 year old kid got me into it, like BTO, KISS, etc. I started playing bass because I wanted to be in a band and emulate my heroes, which I did from age 11-13. From there I discovered other types of music and how the bass was really a distinguishing factor in the shape of those genres, such as jazz, pop and even country music. Keep in mind, I was not really a fan of those styles but rather sought bass inspiration and those genres prompted to further study the bass. That gave me a much wider vocabulary of licks that I then brought back to my first love of hard rock/metal bass playing. Ultimately, that developed my own ‘voice’ as a bassist, which is what you hear even in my MEGADETH bass work.

Metalfan: You are a founding member of the band, but you’ve been away for a few years. How did you find the band upon your return? In regard to musicianship, chemistry, general mood?
David Ellefson: The mood has been great. The musical disciplines of the band are better than ever and that is because the chemistry and desire to be great is instilled in each and every one of us in the group.

Metalfan: Why do you think there’s been so many line-up changes in Megadeth over the years?
David Ellefson: Some changes had to be made due to lifestyles, commitment to the band, motives for being in the band and so forth. No one likes to have to make changes but sometimes it has to be done whether it means replacing someone or if some just feels it’s time to move on.

Metalfan: The rhythm section is crucial to a band, so, obviously, drummer and bass player must get along. Over the years you’ve been playing with a lot of drummers, how’s working with Shawn Drover?
David Ellefson: Shawn is a great drummer to work with. First, the guy bleeds heavy metal! He is such a great historian on rock n roll. Plus, he’s a really good guitar player and songwriter. I like that because I’m much the same in that my first love is playing bass but I’m so much more about playing and writing great songs. I’m not so much a bass-geek kind of guy but rather I like the bass because of its possibilities within the music.

Metalfan: Back in 97 you published a book called "Making Music Your Business … A Guide for Young Musicians". Don’t you think it needs an update?
David Ellefson: I’ve been asked repeatedly to update it but much like the record industry, the book publishing industry is very different now and the amount of time to write, print and market the book would probably make the updated version out of date by the time it hit the bookstores!!
So, I started up “David Ellefson’s ROCK SHOP” You tube channel which has allowed me to talk about updated concepts for free on the Web. It’s much easier, more flexible and way more intuitive in today’s Internet society.

 


Metalfan: What do you think about the new wave of thrash metal, about young bands like Trivium, Evile, Municipal Waste? Can you see any of them stepping up to the level of Megadeth, becoming the next Big 4?
David Ellefson: I don’t know that there will EVER be another BIG 4, not only in Thrash but in any other genre period! If you think about it, there is NO other musical style that still has the four founding and successful bands still alive and working like we do with the BIG 4.
With that said, I think that those bands you mentioned are all doing some great new things and keeping the Thrash music fresh and alive for their peers and audiences growing up with modern music today.

Metalfan: You have a new studio album coming up in November, "Th1rt3en". Besides being the 13th album in the band’s catalogue, is there any other meaning for choosing this title?
David Ellefson: Nope, that’s the reason we called it Th1rt3en. Well, plus the number 13 has a spooky mystery around it and makes people somewhat uncomfortable… that’s kind of fun!

Metalfan: What do you think is the difference between this album and the last one you recorded with the band The World Needs a Hero (2001)?
David Ellefson: The World Needs a Hero was really the beginning of trying to correct our course in the new millennium. With the three subsequent albums that course was established and our flag planted firmly back in our turf once again. Th1rt3en in many ways encompasses styles from our more vintage days of the 1980s and early 90s records.

Metalfan: How did things go in terms of writing and recording this album? Was it an easy one to make?
David Ellefson: It was probably the easiest one to make and for me definitely the most fun one to make.

Metalfan: Some of the songs were actually written a few years ago, for example "New World Order" belongs to the Youthanasia–era (1994). Could you tell us more about the decision to finally release these songs?
David Ellefson: Actually, that song was one of the first batch of songs we composed and demo-ed for the “Countdown to Extinction” album way back in 1991. We wrote it on the USA “Clash of the Titans” tour. Shawn Drover really pushed for that song to be released on this new album and I’m glad he did. In many ways, as a fan of our past music, he probably had the clearest perspective on it and how it would fit in the flow of the album. It’s true Thrash all in all it’s glory!
Plus, history has shown us that often times we can write a song and it can then be many years before it actually makes it to a final record. So, we’ve learned why let a good one go to waste when it can actually be so fitting for a brand new album, even if it’s many years later?!

Metalfan: How did you end up working with producer Johnny K? Was he the choice of the band or was he recommended by the label? How was working with him, did he push you to the limit or let you relax and do your thing in your own time?
David Ellefson: I knew Johnny a little bit from some phone conversations over the years and he even mixed a little project I had played on called IRON STEEL a few years back. After I heard the DISTURBED album “Believe” I became a big fan of his work and found that as a producer he seemed to really get inside of the bands he worked with and brought out their best, rather than just make every band sound like him and his style of producing.  To me, that is HUGE for a producer/band relationship and outcome of an album together. There are some producers who make every band sound like them and to me that is putting the cart before the horse and would be catastrophic for MEGADETH.
Johnny seemed to have a really good sense of what this new album needed to be. I was thrilled he was available and that Dave got on really well with him in the studio. This is not an overly produced, slick sounding record at all. It’s very organic and I think that is perfect for MEGADETH in 2011. Very raw, live and real!

Metalfan: Dave Mustaine recently said in an interview that he has a project in his mind with you, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica. Could you tell us more about this?
David Ellefson: It sure would be fun….

Metalfan: The Big Four has been on the road for some time now. How long you think this will still go on and what could be next? We’ve seen the DVD, maybe you guys will record an album together?
David Ellefson: I think we the bands and fans would love it to continue as long as we can. I know there is certainly huge demand for it from our fans all around the world. It’s really become our own festival of sorts.

Metalfan: What do you think about Anthrax new album, "Worship Music", have you heard it?
David Ellefson: I’m so happy for ANTHRAX. They are our brothers in the BIG 4 and such cool guys. Like all of us, they’ve weathered some heavy changes throughout their career and I’m so glad they’ve got this totally kick-ass and amazing new album.

 


Metalfan: Dave Mustaine and you are known to be committed Christians. Furthermore, you are actually musically involved with a church in your hometown of Scottsdale. What exactly do you play there and to whom and what kind of an experience it is, compared to a heavy metal concert?
David Ellefson: Initially, I helped start and vision-cast the MEGA Life! ministries church in Scottsdale, AZ. It’s now grown to a point where we’ve purchased a brand new building, hired new staff and the mission carries on.
I was initially the worship leader for a few years and that allowed me some great musical opportunities to write, play and develop some great friendships in that community. God gave me my musical talent so I found it fitting that for a few years I should give some of it back to Him for his use. Now that I’m back in MEGADETH full time I’ve called in new people to take over my music position but I try to help out whenever I’m off the road. I get great joy in doing it and do it for free and for fun.

Metalfan: As you certainly know, most of the metalheads don’t go to church very often. Chances are, very few of your fans do that. Does that bother you at all?
No, it doesn’t bother me and I totally understand. I grew up having to go to church every Sunday with my family and I hated it. I would sit and draw KISS logos and stage designs on my church bulletins, while day dreaming about playing music!  But, now as an adult I put my boy-ish ways behind me and see the benefit of a solid faith life. I think the fallacy is that only perfect people go to church, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth… at least not the churches I go to!!!  After all I’m there and I’m certainly not perfect!
In reality, our world is not your friend so don’t get too friendly with it. That is my motive for developing a faith walk and that seems to be pretty good, orderly, direction (G.O.D).

Metalfan: Thank you for your time David, it was really an honour to have you. In the end, please, leave a message for our readers.
David Ellefson: Thank you very much. Hope to see you all this year on tour!
Autor: Klawz, H.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Megadeth

   September 29, 2011  | 1 Comments  | 12313 Views « BACK

Comment on: David Ellefson (MEGADETH): a solid faith life

  • "Dumnezeu mi-a dat talentul muzical, asa ca am considerat ca ar fi potrivit sa returnez o parte din el in folosul Lui"

    Superb!!!

    1. Posted by Fantotzii | 29 Septembrie 2011 20:55
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