MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson recently spoke with Vaughn Skow of Bass Musician Magazine. The full conversation can be seen below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):
On his early days as a bassist:
David: "I think I followed the passion that I had for the kind of music that I wanted to do. I had a rock n' roll soul for whatever reason, so even in jazz band, I wanted to rock. I picked up the bass at about age 11, and I remember I got a Hondo II Stratocaster from the local music store. I remember I wanted to play riffs and cool chord changes. I'm of the belief that your instrument chooses you. Why the bass, of all things, growing up on a farm in Jackson, Minnesota? I remember looking at BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE 'Not Fragile', and I remember opening up that gatefold and going, 'There's Randy Bachman with a Strat; there's Fred Turner with a Rickenbacker; Blair Thornton over there with a Gibson, I guess, SG or Les Paul-type guitar; and for whatever reason, that bass just called to me. That was the one. Then as I got into KISS, and to me, it was about that presence — that larger-than life presence. The music's important — it's important to practice. I came home every day after school and went right into the basement, trying to avoid hard farm work. I would try to get down there and put some time in every day before my dad would call, 'David, we need you outside,' and do farm work... I think music calls to us, and I guess for those of us who are either crazy enough, un-thinking enough or just stubborn enough, we go pursue it."
On his initial impression of Dave Mustaine:
David: "Greg Handevidt, he was the other guy who was vital to the formation of MEGADETH. He was there in our earliest days. I remember after Greg and I met Dave Mustaine, who lived in the apartment above us, we went downstairs and that night, Greg goes, 'Dude, we've got to go play with that guy.' We loved his music – he had something of a whole other level that was going on in L.A... What Dave was doing and this band that he had just left, that we had not heard of yet, called METALLICA, Dave was playing for me and Greg the 'No Life 'Til Leather' demo that he had played on. There was an aggression, a darkness about it that was just hauntingly cool. It felt like something you shouldn't be doing, which is why we wanted to do it — especially being from Jackson, Minnesota."
On his "Basstory" tour:
David: "It really is a spoken-word tour. I may even do some Q&A with a moderator. The clinic thing has kind of dried up. Clinics usually, in my case, Jackson Guitars or my amplifier company, Hartke, would contact local music stores, and it was a way to help them drive product sales. It was a great way to bring awareness to a local town. They're fun to do, but music stores are also very busy — they're trying to do a lot of other business — so I thought with 'Basstory', to go take this out into a club, a venue. It's already a setting where people are coming — they have a few drinks, hang out, chill, catch some music – and in some of the locations, we're putting some of our other EMP Label Group bands on it as a way to help us promote from within. I'm always comfortable having my bass there. It's kind of like a buddy — we've been on the journey together, so to be able to play and almost fill the gaps in of the story by playing the riffs and bits and pieces of it, and tell stories behind these parts. A song starts at a certain place... but songs go on journeys before they're [done]. It's almost like the instrument calls to you — I feel like a song calls to you. You sort of channel it, and you go on this journey. You can go all these different ways with it, but why does that thing resonate so well to you right now, in this moment, and then you record it, and then it's captured. It's like a photograph — it's captured forever. There's a story behind it, and I think the story behind the journey to create this riff, to create this song, create this composition that in our case has changed lives — millions of peoples' lives through our catalog of work — I just thought it was something that I think, with 35 years of MEGADETH this year especially, was a really poignant moment in time to just tell some stories and invite the fans in to be part of it and to do it in an intimate setting. This is really something to really sit down and be very up close and personal. To me, fans ask the most engaging questions... and to be able to bring the music in and play those little bits and pieces that sort of echo what their questions are, to me, is kind of the ultimate fan experience for them."
Ellefson was recently honored by his hometown of Jackson, Minnesota, who declared "David Ellefson Day" as an annual ceremonial holiday.
The bassist is currently the middle of his "Basstory" world tour, with shows across America and Europe.