Former MEGADETH bassist Dave Ellefson recently agreed to answer in the written form several questions submitted to him by BLABBERMOUTH.NET regarding MEGADETH's break-up and the bassist's future plans. Here are our questions and his reponses:
Question: When did it first become apparent to you that MEGADETH's career was coming to an end?
Dave Ellefson: On March 3rd, Dave called me and told me he was quitting MEGADETH.
Q: In the official statement announcing the band's split, the break-up was attributed to Dave Mustaine's nerve damage in his left arm and hand brought on by an injury suffered back in January. Were there any other factors that contributed to the group's decision to go separate ways?
Dave Ellefson: Well, we didn't decide anything as a group. Dave made the decision to leave and therefore MEGADETH has no frontman. It would be pretty silly to try and continue on without him.
Q: An MTV report published immediately after the split was announced suggested that Mustaine's injury was caused during a stint at a rehab in Texas. How was the injury sustained, and did it occur, as some had suggested, as part of a suicide attempt?
Dave Ellefson: You'll have to talk with Dave on the personal issues but I can attest that from what he told me it was not a suicide attempt.
Q: Some have suggested that Dave Mustaine's increased spirituality and stronger religious faith has been instrumental in his decision to disband MEGADETH. How much of a factor, if at all, were his religious beliefs in the group's break-up?
Dave Ellefson: It's pretty difficult to talk about spiritual or religious issues in the media, unless you're STRYPER or SLAYER. I will say that it has been difficult for MEGADETH to grow in recent years while trying to satisfy some fans who seem disappointed that we may sing about anything other than war or devils.
Q: Why was it necessary for the band to split up and not simply take a long break to allow Mustaine's arm and hand to heal properly before regrouping and carrying on with the band's affairs?
Dave Ellefson: Again it was Dave's decision to leave. However, as his press release stated, there are some other personal issues Dave wanted to tend to, such as his family life, and I can't hold that against him.
Q: Have you ever been directly approached with the offer of auditioning for the vacant bassist slot in METALLICA?
Dave Ellefson: No, but I would be honored if they asked me.
Q: If asked, would you consider trying out for the position?
Dave Ellefson: In the last year MEGADETH had a brand new recording contract, album and tour and I certainly felt the need to finish what I started. However, now that MEGADETH is over, and I am essentially a free agent, I'm available to check out any and all situations without anything hanging over my head and yes, I would consider it.
Q: Assuming that you don't end up pursuing the bassist position in METALLICA, what are your short-term and long-term plans with regards to your music career?
Dave Ellefson: You have to realize that this has all come very suddenly and I was preparing to go into studio/songwriting mode for MEGADETH. I'm always writing and have even done some work with a few people in the last few months as a guest performer/producer on a couple projects. However, these were done with the idea that I was in MEGADETH and would be returning back to work with the group, never as my next musical endeavors away from the band. In fact I've never really had a yearning to do a “solo” career while in MEGADETH. I knew that at some point we'd be on hiatus and that would be the time to step out and do something different. With that said, MEGADETH hasn't performed since November, when we recorded the live Rude Awakening CD/DVD. So on one level it would be fun just to get out and play music for fun with a bunch of friends. You know, something without any career agendas.
Q: Several years ago, you were quietly contemplating recording a solo record, and preliminary talks had taken place with James Murphy (TESTAMENT) and John Bush (ANTHRAX/ ARMORED SAINT) to appear on it. Would you be open to revisiting this idea now that you are free from your obligations in MEGADETH?
Dave Ellefson: In the past I would start something but I always made exceptions because MEGADETH was on schedules and I never wanted to have any solo work interfere with that, be it from me or any other band member. I always held MEGADETH in the highest priority and esteem. Again, I always felt that there would be a time and a place for other projects, just not while MEGADETH was in full force.
If you're in a band I think it's important to "be" in that band and not dilute the coolness of it with a bunch of solo projects from its members. At that point, just be solo artists!
With all the recent changes lately, I'm absolutely looking into all avenues because I have a lot of musical ideas that I think people would like to hear from me. The landscape of players and singers has changed since I originally was thinking about it back in the mid 90's so I'll be looking into who's out there and what would be cool to do.
One thing I realize is that I got to be in one of the best heavy metal bands ever. I'm certainly not on a mission to "outdo" MEGADETH, because I don't have bitter feelings about our accomplishments. I got to do more in 18+ years with that band than most people get to do in a lifetime. I really look at this as the start of the next chapter of my life wherever and with whomever that may be.
Q: Do you think there is any possiblity of MEGADETH reforming at some point in the future and picking up where you left off?
Dave Ellefson: One thing I've learned in MEGADETH is not to expect anything as I certainly didn't think we'd be having this conversation about the group's demise right now! If it's meant to be then it will be. If the time is right at some point to regroup then so be it. For now, getting some time away from it will probably be good for everyone.