Lauren Wise of the Phoenix New Times recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Phoenix New Times: The connection between heavy metal and spirituality is a really apparent theme in your memoir. In one part, you mention that you were scared you wouldn't be able to play bass without heroin, because you love playing. You were getting fully sober while writing and recording "Rust In Peace", which was a huge album for MEGADETH. So at what point during that process did you feel your confidence coming back about playing sober?
Ellefson: You know, there was a moment even in my last days of addiction... That's the cunning, baffling power of addiction; it leads you to believe that you can't do anything without the drugs and that lifestyle. There was this moment in late '89 or '90 when it hit me, and I was like, "Wait a minute, I've played the bass since I was 11 and didn't touch a drop of anything until I was 15, in terms of mind-altering chemicals." And I think that was my moment of clarity, because I realized that whole being-high-in-order-to-play was a lie. And that somehow gave me strength. Like I said in the book, all the best things in my life were not my idea. Meaning they were divinely inspired. Even joining MEGADETH, you know? That was my friend Greg's idea. And you know, the people around me and the inspiration that came to me — especially when getting sobered up in 1990 before we recorded "Rust In Peace" — it was a terrific transition, because we wrote that record in our absolutely darkest, most addictive days. But we were able to find sobriety while recording it, so we could execute the performances to 100 percent precision. And I'm glad that the inspiration was part of that, because I would've certainly hated to miss that moment of my life, which laid out all the rest of the years up until this phone conversation today. But that, of course, is the nature of addiction. It's one of the most evil powers of this life; any addiction, that is. It's meant to corrupt, corrode, separate, compartmentalize, and eventually get you to this place where you're all alone, so it can kill you. Even the title of my book, "My Life With Deth", the one that came to me is Romans 6:23, which is, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ." That scripture, along with, of course, my life with 'DETH and MEGADETH and the worship service MEGALife!; they are all a theme that threads together the entire book.
Phoenix New Times: What part of the book was the hardest, or more enjoyable than you thought it would be, to write?
Ellefson: What I enjoyed was telling the stories of my childhood — because I had a great childhood, a great family, a very strong work ethic on the farm. There was no tolerance... but then, again quite honestly, there wasn't a lot of tolerance for anything that happens naturally in showbiz either. I come from a life that is so not that, and when I got to L.A. that's all it was. My dad was a real straight shooter, and I just came from a great community, friends and family. So that was the fun part. The uncomfortable part was at some point I had to address the time I was away from MEGADETH, and the split that happened. I didn't want to get into details, because that's behind us now, and we had addressed it — so I certainly didn't want to stir that up. At some point you have to let bygones be bygones, so you can move forward, which is what we've done the past four years in MEGADETH. Even that part of the story — you know, a lot of friends of mine in bands aren't able to put things behind them and come back together. It's sad and it's a shame. Some bands have made amazing music, but then addictions, pride, money — all those things put on Earth to destroy humans' primary purpose — and everything else sabotaged the bands. And for whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be reconciliation on the horizon. And I'm glad that with MEGADETH, we were able to have reconciliation. Because the story has a really cool ending now.
Read the entire interview at Phoenix New Times.