MEGADETH Bassist Says New Album Really Takes Him Back To Origins Of Band's Sound
Eric Blair of "The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show" conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson at this year's NAMM (National Association Of Music Merchants) show, a massive music-products convention that took place January 24-27 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. You can now watch the chat below.
On the recording sessions for MEGADETH's new studio album:
Ellefson: "It's really coming well. In fact, right before I cam here, I was just down [in the studio] playing some bass. We have ten tracks done as of now, at least the bass and drum tracks, and you can really hear the songs coming together now at this point. And boy, there's some great stuff. I mean, it really takes me back to some of the real origins of the MEGADETH sound from back in the very beginning, which I'm thrilled about."
"It's too early to [talk about individual songs], unfortunately, But all I can say is there's a pretty wide range [of music], as I think our best MEGADETH records have — we've got a very wide span of our musical history. But we are our best when we just get in a room and just start crushing and throwing it down, and that's where we're at right now. 'Cause when you go in the studio, you go, 'I've got this idea,' 'I've got this idea,' you kind of throw them out, and sometimes it's a process of elimination. And all of sudden, you find in the middle there's the heart and soul of it. And that's really where we're at right now. And I tell you, these last few days I've been playing bass on it, and it's a workout and it's just freakin' ripping. I hope my passion tells you the story. Yeah, I am excited; it's great."
On how MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine being a born-again Christian has changed MEGADETH's life on the road:
Ellefson: "I think it's been great. I mean, look, our story is out there. We've been a very open book about our lives, about the history of the band. I think it's the thing our fans appreciate about us — whether you like it or not, we speak it. And so to be open about that with our lives, 'cause our personal lives really are our professional lives by and large. Because being in MEGADETH, it's who we are — it's not just a band, it's who we are as people. For Dave, obviously, that was a great conversion for him and a great thing for his life. And I've done kind of a similar thing myself years ago. By the time I was 25, the drugs and the booze kicked me, and I was done. But the funny thing is that was right before we recorded 'Rust In Peace', and then from then on, I've had the best years of my bass-playing career and certainly of the MEGADETH career. So, for me, keeping my nose clean — for the real desire and not because I have to and not white-knuckling it, 'cause I have a real desire to… I'm a bass player first and foremost and a bandmember, and there's a lot of things that come along with that. My craft, being a bass player in MEGADETH, has been its best when I've kept my nose clean."
On whether the lifestyle of hard partying and excessive drug use gets old after a while:
Ellefson: "I couldn't even imagine, having done this now — 30 years of MEGADETH this year, actually, so to think back, at this point, to have lived a life like I used to back in the day, I don't know that we'd still be here having this conversation. So, for me, really, I had to really get back to just the real passion of why I even am here doing any of this, which is, I just love being a bass player in a killer metal band — that was my goal from age 11. When I picked the thing up, that's what I wanted to do. And I guess maybe if there's any inspiration from that, when you lock on to something you really like, man, just go for it — whether you're playing bass or whatever line of work it is — just really go for it and give it your all. I never had a back-up plan, and that seemed to work out pretty good."
On whether being sober has allowed him to connect with the MEGADETH audience better:
Ellefson: "Oh, sure, without a doubt. I mean, to actually look people in the eyes and see the whites of their eyes and see that front-row passion. Obviously, in the back of the arena, it's kind of the abyss and you don't have that personal contact. But, yeah, to be present and be in the moment. The fans pay a lot of money for a ticket, it's a special moment in their lives to be there to see us perform, so the least I can do is be present for them."