Megadeth’s David Ellefson Talks About More Than Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll

“I never wanted to do anything else with my life,” explains David Ellefson, bassist and founding member of Megadeth.  “You know, when you’re a kid you want to be a police man or a fire man and all those typical things, but for me, once I started getting into rock and roll when I was like 10 or 11 years old-that was it! It wasn’t all about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, it was about music. That’s why I think Dave Mustaine and I got Megadeth together.”

“Megadeth is all about not ever loosing the  feeling that we had back when we put the band together,” says Ellefson. “We love it. This is what we wanted to do when we started the band. We figure there is no reason to stop. Instead of being a band that gets blown by the winds of change, we really try to stay focused on why it is we put this band together and why we even started playing this music in the first place.”

“My mom sang in the church choir,” explains Ellefson, “so we had an organ which was just god awful to learn how to play. When I was in the 5th grade, it was kind of like you either get into sports or you get into music. Music just kind of seemed to be my hit, so I started playing saxophone. I never really got that good at it. The tenor sax didn’t represent a kind of music that I really liked. When I’d ride to school in the morning on the bus, we’d have to listen to a.m. radio. I started hearing Styx and Kiss, those kinds of bands. Once I started hearing that and guitars and just the heaviness of that kind of music on a.m. radio, I was like ‘whoa, that’s kind of cool…that pretty much started it.”

“When I got into kiss,” admits Ellefson, “that’s when I really started playing bass. I liked the bass. I thought it looked cool, it sounded cool and I figured everybody wants to be a singer, guitar player, or drummer, so if I’m a bass player I’ll probably always have a job. Some people ask who my influences were and I’ll say Gene Simmons. They probably think that he’s not necessarily regarded as topping the bass poles for his bass playing abilities, but there is just a sound and an attitude and a vibe about him. And that’s what it’s about. It’s not about how many notes you can play or how quickly you can play them. You convey an attitude and a vibe when you play, whether you play a couple notes or thousands.”

Megadeth are about to embark on a national tour for the release of their latest album, The World Needs a Hero (Sanctuary records), just getting back from an international tour that took the band through Europe, Asia and Australia. This time though, the tour is interactive. Interactive, how you say? Well, let’s let David explain… “The whole idea behind this tour for North America is to make it interactive with our fans on our website; Our fans can go to our site and choose the set list we are going play. The whole thinking with The World Needs a Hero is; ‘we’re a band of the people, by the people, for the people’ and that’s exactly what we’re trying for. We figure the audience is coming to see us play so let’s play what they want to hear.”

“Our contract was done with Capital,” says Ellefson “and this record (The World Needs a Hero) was actually going to be called ‘Capital Punishment’. Once we hammered out the details of closing out that contract and Megadeth and Capital going there separate ways, we put two new songs on what was then a greatest hits record. That release came out last year and then we signed a new deal with Sanctuary records.”

“When we went back into the studio last fall to complete the final few tracks for The World Needs a Hero,” explains Ellefson, “Sanctuary records didn’t want radio singles, they wanted heavy songs. And that was inspiring. They are a record company that wants to release Megadeth at its best.
“I was reading an interview yesterday about Clive Davis who is a big hit maker from Arista records,” says Ellefson. “He was talking about how his approach is ‘we don’t want anybody unless they can sell out Madison Square Garden’. That’s fine, that’s mainstream pop music and I can understand that, but it’s very much the record company calling the shots, taking an artist and developing them into what they envision them being. The marriage between Megadeth and Sanctuary is different, Sanctuary came to the party realizing that Megadeth has already done all the groundwork. Their attitude was  ‘lets help them be the best that they can be.’”

So with all the lineup changes is Megadeth the best that they can be? “I think that M    egadeth is probably the best we’ve ever been,” says Ellefson. “Dave and I have always tried to stay focused on the attitude that started this band. When new members come in, it’s about educating them on where we’ve come from. And of course, they always bring some new things to the table as well…especially musically. It’s been fun, I think having new members in the band forces you to really dig deep. You have to set all your past aside so you can have an opportunity to grow together as a group.”

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