MEGADETH Bassist JAMES MACDONOUGH Says He Felt Like A 'Hired Hand' In ICED EARTH

FourteenG recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist James MacDonough (ex-ICED EARTH). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

FourteenG: How did you feel coming into MEGADETH and learning bass parts written by David Ellefson, who some would consider the best bassist in metal? For example, songs like "My Last Words" or parts in songs such as "Tornado of Souls", "Take No Prisoners", and "Peace Sells". How did you feel coming into this position and learning someone else's masterpieces?

James MacDonough: "Actually, most of those parts were written by Dave Mustaine and not David Ellefson. But coming in and learning that, I was a finger player for twenty years prior to that, and when I got into MEGADETH, the first thing Dave asked me was if I could play the MEGADETH songs with a pick. And I was like, 'Hell yeah, I'll play them with a pick.' I ended up learning a completely new style of playing and it took up fourteen hours a day in the beginning to become accustomed to the style. It is a different mind set playing these songs because everything is so articulate, and not so much in the background or doing so much with the guitars so much as was the case with my old band. But it was a really unique experience getting into the MEGADETH vibe. The first few practices, we couldn't stop smiling because here I was playing with Dave Mustaine [laughs]. It sounded so good I would take my earplugs out just to jam. It is nice to play those lines, really cool, especially 'Peace Sells'."

FourteenG: How did you become involved in MEGADETH?

James MacDonough: "Well, on the last tour MEGADETH did, 'The World Needs A Hero Tour', ICED EARTH opened for the last leg. That was kind of a last audition. I had been checking up on MEGADETH after getting off tour with ICED EARTH and our last shows were cancelled so I was on MEGADETH's web site checking out what was going on with them. I found out that the guys Dave used on 'The System Has Failed' were session players. I looked up on Jimmy Sloas and figured he would probably not do the tour, so I contacted the webmaster and the next day I got an e-mail back from Dave, and a few days later I was on a conference call with Dave Mustaine for about an hour. I sent him a video of me playing and some songs and he called me back a few days later and told me he wanted to hire me. It was a very unique way to get into the band because there were not tryouts we just went in and slammed it out."

FourteenG: Did any sort of childish excitement come out when Dave said he wanted to hire you?

James MacDonough: "Of course. I had to pull over to the side of the road, I was traveling at the time and I was loosing my signal. Here is how it happened. He said, 'James, you are the man I want to hire,' and three seconds later I lost my signal [laughs]. Do you know how terrible it would have been to get disconnected? [laughs] It was an awesome feeling. Every morning I wake up I think, damn I am in MEGADETH. It is totally awesome."

FourteenG: What has it been like working with Jon Schaffer [ICED EARTH] and then Dave Mustaine, two well-respected songwriters?

James MacDonough: "Well, it is night and day as far as dealing with them in terms of people. It is also night and day in terms of dealing with respect. I have said in interviews before that I felt more like a band member in MEGADETH, even before I played with Dave Mustaine, than I ever did with ICED EARTH. I felt I was more of a hired hand, and that was the way I was made to feel in the band. It had its few rare moments where it was cool, but I loved playing that music and I love chatting with the fans. But as far as actual dealing with the two as bosses, both are really professional, but one is more of a friend. Dave is a good friend and big brother to me. I'll leave it at that. there is a lot of respect mutually. Dave is really open to our ideas, we will give him our inputs and he will ask for our inputs in certain things. That was something that was never used or ever mattered in my old band."

Read the entire interview at FourteenG.net.

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