MEGADETH Bassist: ‘We Had Punk Attitude With Metal Chops’

Tom Murphy of the Denver Westword recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Denver Westword: You spoke at length in the movie “The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”. And you didn’t embarrass yourself unlike some of the other artists. How did you get to be a part of that and what was it like working with [director] Penelope Spheeris on that movie?

Ellefson: Penelope really liked us, she loved Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH mainman]. She really liked Dave‘s approach, that it was just raw, edgy, sort of unrefined — there’s just a real animal quality that she liked about Dave‘s style. That was kind of how she was. She was this sort of unrefined filmmaker. That’s why she liked doing punk and rock and roll movies. MEGADETH, we weren’t a glossy, glitzy, rock and roll band. We were a really raw, basically a punk and metal band, which is what became thrash. We had punk attitude with metal chops. That’s what lead to that. We did “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and before that “In My Darkest Hour” and the movie and stuff so we had kind of a nice little run of stuff that we did with her.

Denver Westword: You wrote that book “Making Music Your Business” many years ago. Why did you feel compelled to write that book and if you had to write an update for it, what might you add that you’ve learned since 1997?

Ellefson: I was reading a lot of different types of books around that period. A lot of self-development and personal growth type of books. We were recording the Youthanasia record then we did a tour cycle behind that. That was time period when I wrote the book. It just turned into this thing where I thought, “You know, I’ve been blessed with having a really good career up to this point.” It was kind of a way to give something back to our fans. Especially the musicians who, like all of us…You can’t really go to school to learn it. Everybody’s career path is different. But there’s so much in the business that you figure out on your own and I thought it would be a cool way to give something back, that was my motive behind it. As far as the actual book itself, I’ve been asked to write a follow-up for years. So what I did was start up David Ellefson’s Rock Shop on YouTube. You can look those up and those are basically a series of videos — and I continue to do them — intended to explain music business things and even going over playing and performance and different things pertaining to [being a bassist and a musician in general].

Denver Westword: When you rejoined MEGADETH, what did you and Mustaine say to each other to kind of seal the deal and be able to work together again in a productive way?

Ellefson: We had talked several times over the years. It wasn’t like we were total strangers to each other. We got on the phone and Dave was like, “Look, this is what it is, this is where the band is at today and this is basically what we can do to make it work.” I said, “You know what? Sounds good.” Because, quite honestly I was sort of like, “Let’s get together and see if this works.” He said, “I’d love to have you here if you want to be here.” And I said, “Well, I’d love to be there.” That was it. I drove over, we rehearsed, it sounded great and it was a done deal. It was really simple and it was something that took what it took and it took the time that it took and when it took, it took. From there on were just said, let’s just close the door on the past, let’s just keep our eyes on the future and let’s move forward. And that’s what we’ve done ever since.

Read the entire interview from Denver Westword .