Interview: David Ellefson (Megadeth)

David came back in Megadeth a year ago, and what has he been doing since? Umm, I don’t know, just KICKING MAJOR ASS around the globe and writing a new Megadeth album.

But what can fans expect from the new album, what does he think of ‘Endgame‘ and did he really see me in the crowd at the Sofia gig? Well, only one way to find out.

Ladies and metalheads…  My interview with David Ellefson, after the jump!

Dose Of Metal: I’m a little late with this but I have to say it… Man, it’s so good to see you back in Megadeth! How does it feel to be back, now that you’ve been back for a year?

David Ellefson: Thank you very much! It is great to be back in the fold and I couldn’t be happier about how the year has been for us. There were so many huge, monumental things that lined up for the entire genre and I’m thrilled to be celebrating it with our tribe.

DoM: I also have to ask… What do you think of the Megadeth albums you weren’t on, like Endgame?

DE: Endgame was really good and I think they all had some cool stuff on them. I like Christina Scabbia‘s duet on “A Tout Le Monde” from United Abominations and there was some good stuff on The System Has Failed, too.

DoM: Speaking of which, how’s the new album coming along and what can fans expect?

DE: It’s coming along really well and I think fans will be stoked about it. There are some great, classic riffs and hooks and overall a good spirit about the whole process.  I like that we are essentially working on it between tour legs rather than just coming off the road for a year to make an album. Sometimes that down time is needed but it can also take you away from your urgency of the music and the pulse of your fans. At this point, we are on such a great vibe right now that the road energy helps feed the recording process, too.

DoM: I get extremely annoyed when people spell your band “Megadeath” on the internet. Do you guys ever get annoyed as well, or should I just go out more?

DE: I guess that’s how you can tell if they are a fan or if they are just a journalist on a job.

DoM: What’s it like being in such an influential band? When you hear similar riffs, for instance, from a new band… Do you go “Wow, that’s flattering!” or “DAMN THIEVING HACKS!!!”?

DE: Funny thing, I’ve never really hear direct rip offs from anyone, even though I know we are often credited with being influential to so many up and coming artists.  Maybe I’m too close to our sound to really discern it from someone else.

DoM: “The Big Four” used to be a nickname, now it’s a brand. Are you afraid this might start some spin-offs, like “The Big Four of Nu-Metal” or God forbid, “The Big Four of Hip-Hop”?

DE: The truth is, there really isn’t ANY other scene out there that has four definitive leaders of their genre. In most every case there was one band that was the clear leader and then the rest of them were followers, not true innovators. That is not the case with ‘The Big Four‘ because we all helped create the genre together. Just as importantly, I think it’s cool that we all recognize and respect each other’s contributions to the genre so we can join forces and work together for the common good of the scene.

DoM: You’ve done an US tour with Anthrax and Slayer, before that you had 7 Big Four dates and there are 3 more for this year. How does it feel touring with these bands?

DE: It’s great to be back home with these guys because we all came up the ranks together. We each own our corner of the ring for which we are known, but when we bond together and it creates an amazing event.

Slayer and Megadeth started the initial “Clash of the Titans” moniker in Europe back in late 1990, which continued with Anthrax through North America in 1991 and those tours are now unprecedented in the Thrash history books, which creates this myth of legendary proportion for Thrash Metal. It’s almost like its part of our job to keep telling that story to our fans, especially the younger ones weren’t able to catch those shows back in the day.

DoM: There have been small feuds between these four bands in the past, was there any friction at all backstage?

DE: This time it was “all good.” I think we’ve all been up the mountain and seen the view from the top in our own careers and in our own way, so we don’t have to feel threatened about that kind of stuff any more.

DoM: A concert as epic as the Bulgarian one usually takes place in cities like London or Berlin. How come it happened in Sofia, of all the other European cities?

DE: Personally, I had never been to Bulgaria before so I was thrilled we did it there. In fact, it was an interesting concept to do the initial shows in 2010 in the far eastern sections of Europe. There’s something enchanting about that area of the earth, it’s people and certainly the history that bodes well for metal and our fan’s interest, especially since all four bands are from the USA.

DoM: I’ve actually been to the Sofia concert, and to another Big Four date. Did you see me in the crowd?

DE: Well, there was something like 70,000 people there so I wasn’t able to quite pick you out of the crowd.

DoM: I can also spot myself on that epic photo of all of you guys on stage. I think you and I were the only handsome guys there. Agreed?

DE: I guess that depends on your definition of handsome..

DoM: Speaking of “Am I Evil,” how come you only jammed together once?

DE: I think that we did ONLY once made it even cooler, especially for the filming of the whole event.

Who knows what we may do moving forward, but that was truly a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ kind of moment for all of us at the show that night.

DoM: My idea of an epic Big Four closing would be all four bands playing a medley of all their most well known songs. Was that ever considered?

DE: Funny, my son said the same thing this week! Maybe we’re on to something here..

DoM: The American Big Four date has been announced on Facebook, what’s your take on the music industry being on the internet these days with iTunes, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc…?

DE: Megadeth embraced the Internet from day one and now it is clearly the way of how we all do things in our lives. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be doing this interview if it weren’t for the Internet so we should all be happy about it, in my opinion.

DoM: To me, going into a store and physically buying albums and taking them home, then unwrapping them anxiously and reading the booklet while the first song is playing will never be replaced by simply clicking “Buy” on a website. Do you think future generations will miss out on these simple pleasures, or does it not matter as long as the music is good?

DE: The truth is, I miss that experience, too. But, I also love that I can cruise over to iTunes at any given moment and buy exactly what I want and take delivery of it RIGHT NOW!  In a lot of ways the Internet has made life a lot more fun and much more productive.

However, I will say that downloading the PDF version of a CD cover is just not the same as physically holding it in your hands and reading through it as the songs play. I like looking at our own CD covers when I listen back to them because it brings back memories of those days for me, too. Heck, even the smell of the brand new printed package was part of that enjoyment for me. Oh well, I guess it’s something that is going the way of the dinosaur eventually.

DoM: What about musicians tweeting their every move? It kind of takes away that aura of mystery that musicians used to have, say, in the 80s, doesn’t it?

DE: I would agree. I think you can ‘tweet’ a few things here and there to keep your fans up to date with you but do they really care about what you’re drinking at Starbucks?

DoM: Can you imagine Michael Jackson on Twitter? “I <3 Jonas Bros lol #kids”

DE: I have a saying I try to live by; “Be famous for what you do rather than do things just to be famous”.

DoM: Last but not least, what do you think of our site and do you have a message for our readers?

DE: I perused around it and I must say you have a good pulse going here. Plus, the fact that you were at the Big 4 show proves you are cool. Keep up the good work!

Make sure you catch Megadeth and Slayer on their European Carnage Tour which starts in March!

Photo credit: “Iron” Mike Savoia. Check out his work here.

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