Former MEGADETH Bassist Talks About Performing At LES PAUL Tribute Concert

Mary Ellen Gustafson of Garage Radio recently conducted an interview with former MEGADETH and current F5 bassist David Ellefson. A couple of excerpt from the chat follow:

Garage Radio: I read that you were invited to be part of the "Les Paul Tribute" during the Music Player Live! event in NYC in October. What was that like?

Elelfson: "I gotta tell you, those things were so cool and sharing the stage with those people like Robben Ford and Les Paul and Larry Carlton just blew me away. Bass Player magazine has been a really great ally for me and they always welcome me into the fold and ask me to be involved in these things. I'm like their main token rock/metal guy. I'm musically educated, I know my instrument, I know my industry and I know my craft pretty well after all these years of doing it, so they take me seriously. They don't just go, 'Well, who's the latest Johnny-come-lately in the metal field and we'll back him.' There's a respect that we both have for each other that's really nice. When they invited me to do that Les Paul tribute concert, I was like 'What, me? What am I gonna play?' I had to put my thinking cap on and roll up my sleeves and put something together. It was really a lot of fun to do and it was one of those things where you sit there dumbfounded and go, 'Wow, I gotta dig in and see what I can really bring to this event.' I mean, what can I bring to it? The greatest musician on the planet is playing, what do I bring? Well, bringing my metal/rock skills into it is the thing they didn't have and that's what they needed to make that part of the event cool. I guess that's kinda where I'm at with music production and even with song writing and all the other things I do. I'm trying to always bring a new element to them to help rally the team and make the whole thing come together."

Garage Radio: After this long in the industry, it sounds like you're in the ideal position to actually make some things happen.

Elelfson: "Yeah, I gotta tell ya, I always want to feel like I did when I first started. I was like 11 years old when I first started getting into some bands and stuff and I just remember that feeling I had when I was 12 years old. I was like a kid in a candy store. I had all the dreams and aspirations that I've now been able to complete fortunately and even today, after all these years and all these different experiences, for me playing music should still make me feel like I'm 12 years old again. Like a little kid. For me that's the barometer of anything that I'm involved in. It's not rocket science. We're here to play music, not for our own self indulgence, but to get other people off; to make them thrash or dance or make out or whatever it is they want to do when the music is playing.

"With F5, I told the guys in the band right away, 'Look, don't expect the tour bus to be pulling up right away.' I can get a lot of doors open and we can have a lot of conversations and things have moved along well for the band, but everybody in this band has to earn their keep and they have to earn their place. There are no freebies in life. Basically, the only thing that we really get is a doorway into a room full of opportunity, but we still have to do the work once we're in the room, it doesn't just come easily. That's what I've found as I've moved on in life these past few years is that I have a lot of good will and fortunately a pretty stellar resume and a lot of cool things like that are on my side. But each day is a brand new day and every one of them deserves a lot of effort, a lot of work and you have tend to them and take care of them and nurture them and coddle and develop them. It's kinda like raising kids. Their days as a baby are only good as long as they're a baby. As they move on in life you have to continue to nurture them and move them along. That's how music projects and bands are. In the end it's always about people and people constantly change. People don't stay the same and as life moves on everything keeps moving and you have to stay in step with it. I've stuck with one music style for a very long time, but creatively your music is going to grow and change and your music is going to reflect who you are. Music is an outward reflection of an inner self. I'm a huge rock fan myself. I think that's why most people get into this business whether you're a musician or a journalist or whatever — because we're fans. I'm a huge KISS fan and I can go back and listen to a KISS song and feel like I'm 12 years old, but the reality is I don't sit around and listen to my KISS records all day long like I did when I was 12. I'm not there any more, I've moved on to new things. As much as KISS was a soundtrack to my teenage life, I'm not a teenager any more and I've got other songs as my soundtrack. As I've become professional, one of the hardest things about being professional at this and trying to make a living from your art is sometimes you create art that's really really good, but for whatever reason not everybody is gonna buy it. Maybe a trend changed or something. The record companies, their job is to market and sell my art, so as an artist we all have our strengths and we all have our insecurities. When you're in the moment and you're creating, you're feeling the love, but when the record comes out you put your head in the guillotine. Now it's time for the public to have their opinion and see what they think about it."

Read the entire interview at


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