IndependentRockstar.com recently conducted an interview with former MEGADETH and current F5/HAIL! bassist David Ellefson. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
IndependentRockstar.com: David, what is one habit that you have that has been an important contributor to your success?
Ellefson: First off, I just love playing, writing, recording and especially performing. Because of that, I'm focused and really passionate about playing music at all costs. It has taught me to never give up, regardless of the hurdles I may encounter along the way.
IndependentRockstar.com: Why do you think it's important to take the business aspect of music seriously?
Ellefson: If you want to simply play for fun then you don't need to sweat the business stuff. BUT, if you want to make a living playing and create a career for yourself, you need to pay attention to the business, money, marketing, etc. because that is what will sustain you and provide your income and livelihood.
IndependentRockstar.com: What do you think is the most important principle for musicians to understand in order to grow their audience?
Ellefson: At the end of the day, people don't buy "ordinary," they buy "extraordinary." In order to be great, you have to be different and it has to be something people really want, too. In other words, you can be "good" and survive, but to really excel, you need to be outstanding. That is not something most of us every get to taste in this lifetime, but for those who really get ahead in the entertainment business, they have to have something unique for their audience.
IndependentRockstar.com: What would be your best advice for young musicians in terms of people skills, and why is that important for long term success?
Ellefson: One thing I've learned is that being connected is what ALL of life is about. People make things happen, not things, instruments or computers. Too many musicians think their skills and their music is all that matters so they spend all of their time practicing that part of their life but fail to get the bigger picture, which is being able to build relationships both with your own team and even your audience. Same goes for making connections in the business. Having a rolodex of contacts is what gets us "in the game" and is something all successful people have compiled in their respective industries. We all need other people to help make our wheels turn. It's a process of "give and get" and the door swings both ways.
IndependentRockstar.com: What has been the most surprising to you about your career compared to how you imagined it would be as a young musician?
Ellefson: As a kid you think, "Wow, being a rock star would be fun and it sure looks easy." But, then you realize that if it were so easy EVERYONE would be doing it! I realized that playing the big shows to 20,000 people were really not much different than playing the small shows we all start out doing for 200 people. There's just more zeros behind the numbers in terms of income, but also expenses, as well as the number of people required to make it all happen. You still have to rehearse, work hard and be able to get along with people in order to keep something together that will survive the most demanding of situations. I think the internal stresses of building something to be successful is as much a challenge as actually having the success. Plus, success is a verb, a journey. So, even when you arrive at any given goal, you realize there is still so much more ahead that you can do. The journey never really ends, it just keeps changing. To me, that is the fun of it all.
IndependentRockstar.com: Who or what inspires you?
Ellefson: My father was a huge inspiration to me, even though he wasn't a musician at all! He always reminded me to remain humble and to work hard. He would always remind me, "You're not great until somebody else thinks you are." In other words, don't get pompous and think too highly of yourself just because you play an instrument, but rather let other people be the judge of that because they will be the ones who decide if they want to come and see you play.
Read the entire interview from IndependentRockstar.com.