Chris Kee of MTUK Metal 'Zine recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: Did you grow up in a musical family? Were your parents supportive of your musical ambitions?
Ellefson: My mother was musical, yes. She sang in the church choir, knew how to play piano and was a huge Elvis fan. My father really couldn't carry a tune at all but he was extremely supportive of me in my teenage years as a musician. He helped me buy basses, PA gear, trailers to haul it around in, etc. and was really strongly behind me moving to L.A. back in 1983 after I graduated high school.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: Did you ever have any formal bass lessons after that or were you completely self-taught? Do you think formal lessons are important for someone setting out on their musical path?
Ellefson: They're useful but, even though I was primarily self-taught and I took lessons on top, it was when I joined the jazz band in my school that I really opened up to new musical experiences. I got to travel out to some regional jazz fests and that opened my eyes and ears to some fantastic players. I think my rock and roll leanings gave my jazz bass chops a really unique and interesting sound… People have always commented on how my abilities grew in those early years and that was wonderfully rewarding for me.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: After the split with MEGADETH did you ever consider hanging up your bass, retiring from music? Was it difficult to find the strength to carry on?
Ellefson: No, and I never really considered that at all. I got a few tour offers right away which I admit, I passed on, because it seemed more important to just take that moment in time to develop more as a songwriter and artist, but I'm glad I did, because it made me a much better musician. Music is part of who I am, so I will always play.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: You've just announced your return to MEGADETH — many congratulations on that. Does that mean that all other projects like ANGELS OF BABYLON and F5 will have to be put on hold? Is there a future for ANGELS OF BABYLON? Will they continue without you?
Ellefson: Thank you very much… My thought at the moment is that I want to continue a musical life in addition to MEGADETH, even though that has a pretty full schedule right now with a lot of touring coming up…I think musicians should always work with other people when[ever] and wherever possible! Fundamentally, it makes them better players. F5 has not had any immediate plans for a record and ANGELS OF BABYLON is securing the North American release for "Kingdom Of Evil" right now….. So, if they need another bassist to tour that record in the interim, it has my blessing. If not, then hopefully, we can address that during off time with MEGADETH.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: What albums that you've been involved with outside MEGADETH are you most proud of?
Ellefson: Both F5 records are things I'm particularly proud of, as are the TEMPLE OF BRUTALITY, AVIAN and now, ANGELS OF BABYLON record. I also like the SOULFLY "Prophecy" album… That was a cool moment in time for all of us.
MTUK Metal 'Zine: Which song (or songs) that you've written or co-written in your career are you most proud of?
Ellefson: Well, I really like "Dawn Patrol" because it is so quirky, especially for a thrash metal record. And, I also like the F5 song "Dissidence" on the first album, "A Drug For All Seasons".
MTUK Metal 'Zine: Are there any particular musical ambitions that you'd still like to fulfill in your career?
Ellefson: God, I'm sure there will be many more as time marches on. I never did any side projects or solo records in almost 20 years with MEGADETH so I think these past eight years have shown a side of my musical life that people didn't get to see before. It was a really good exploration and one that I'm looking forward to continuing in the years ahead.
Read the entire interview from MTUK Metal 'Zine.