David Ellefson says that he is thrilled with the overwhelming amount of support his MEGADETH bandmate Dave Mustaine has received after announcing earlier this week that he has been diagnosed with throat cancer. "It's terrific," the MEGADETH bassist told the "Music Mania" podcast (hear audio below). "It's really wonderful to see. And it's good to see so many friends coming around, because the metal community, we are a family. And look, a lot of us, we're getting on in our years in our community too. So I think that makes it even more relevant that we rally around and try to support each other in these times. It's really, really just super cool for Dave. I'm very happy about it."
Ellefson, who joined forces with Mustaine in 1983 to form MEGADETH, said that his longtime friend's cancer diagnosis really hit home for him.
"I think anytime this kind of thing happens, especially something exactly like this, you reflect on your own life," the bassist said. "And I'm sure Dave is having his own journey with this, but I think for me, I'm three years younger than Dave, and we basically grew up together, so even for me… I'm 54, and I see people around me having health issues. So it does bring into light your own mortality. And also, 'What have I done with my life? Have I used it for good? Have I used it to help people and build people up?' And I think those are the things that all come to light when something like this goes down."
According to Ellefson, most of MEGADETH's previously announced 2019 tour dates have been canceled as Mustaine undergoes treatment. The MEGADETH-curated Megacruise — which is set to take place October 13-19 — will still depart as scheduled, and the band will be a part of it in some form.
"We're gonna have to be clearing the deck of a lot of our plans this year," Ellefson said. "The [Megacruise] is intact. Meanwhile, we are continuing to work on the [next MEGADETH studio] album, and we're gonna keep working on that as we go. And if it reaches the point where we need to sideline that for a bit, we will. But for right now, we're working on it, and that's sort of keeping the team spirit alive within our camp as well, 'cause we're building something up that's constructive and creative together."
The 57-year-old Mustaine revealed his cancer diagnosis on June 17 on social media. He said that he has already begun treatment as part of a plan that his doctors feel has a "90% success rate."
MEGADETH's follow-up to the group's 2016 Grammy-winning full-length record, "Dystopia", is not expected to arrive before 2020 at the earliest.