Martin Carlsson of Expressen TV conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson prior to today's (Sunday, July 3) "Big Four" concert at Ullevi stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden. You can now watch the chat below. A few excerpts follow.
On the first show of the current "Big Four" European tour:
Ellefson: "Last night was awesome. We played in Germany. We sometimes do these big jams at the end of the METALLICA set. And it was cool, because they actually handed over some new songs for us, for everybody to learn. So we started with 'Am I Evil?' in Sofia when we filmed the live DVD last year, and we did that again in Indio, which was the first U.S. show that we played together. And so last night we actually did another song, called 'Helpless', which is another DIAMOND HEAD song. It wasn't specifically meant to be just a DIAMOND HEAD jam. But certainly for Dave [Mustaine, MEGADETH mainman], I know he was excited, 'cause he used to play that song with METALLICA back in the day when he was with them. So it was cool. There should be some other songs coming along now. So the jam is gonna continue, it looks like."
On how many songs were on the list of possible tracks they may perform with the other "Big Four" bands on the current tour:
Ellefson: "There was about I guess there's five on there, five total, and I can't tell you which ones."
On whether all five of the songs have already been rehearsed:
Ellefson: "No. [Laughs] In fact, it's kind of funny, because the first one we did, we all got together in METALLICA's jam room and we rehearsed it, with 'Am I Evil?' But now that we've done it, everybody's like, 'Look, just hand us the song,' and everybody learns it. And we actually have a jam room set up as well in the MEGADETH room, so usually ANTHRAX comes over. And the SLAYER guys, the challenge is to get them to jam, 'cause they're not a very 'jammy' kind of band, by their own admission. But its fun. The ANTHRAX guys, they like to jam, they like to play. So hopefully we can start to rally Actually, Kerry [King, SLAYER guitarist] jumped in [at the Indio concert]. Kerry and Dave Lombardo [SLAYER drummer] played. And I'm sure Gary Holt [EXODUS guitarist, who is currently filling in for SLAYER's Jeff Hanneman] would love to be involved. Gary is a great player."
On whether fans should believe SLAYER's excuse that they were "travelling" and couldn't make last night's "Big Four" jam:
Ellefson: "Yeah, you should believe that. They had already made their plans that they were gonna fly up here [to Sweden], I think, so they were all set to go right after their set, so they couldn't come. But we actually built all of our travel schedule around staying 'till the end of the night, so that we could be there for that. Because sometimes those jams have been impromptu; sometimes they happen, sometimes they don't. So we figured, 'You know, let's hang [and] be part of the whole thing.' 'Cause it really is a big event, isn't it? It's like a whole night out. So for us, we're hanging 'till the end regardless."
On whether "Big Four" should more appropriately be named "Big One And Three Small Ones":
Ellefson: "No, it is definitely not that. It is definitely the 'Big Four.' Obviously, METALLICA got very big very quickly in their career. To some degree, we're always considered the 'Big Four' by the fans I don't know if a fan came up with that or if the media came up with that, but somebody coined that [term] and it wasn't us, it wasn't any of our bands. And for all these years later METALLICA to really stand behind that and embrace that is cool. We realized last year at the first show that we did in Poland that it was not METALLICA as a headliner with just three other bands on it; it's very much all four or us, hanging a lot of hang time people on stage watching each other, watching the bands play. So it's a full day out. . . And everybody changes up their setlist all the time, too. I don't think any of us played the exact same show two days in a row."
On Dave Mustaine's reluctance to perform the entire "Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?" album to celebrate its 25th anniversary because as a born-again Christian he is uncomfortable singing with lyrics to the songs "The Conjuring" and "Bad Omen":
Ellefson: "It's a pretty dark album. In fact, I've had a lot of people my friends who have been fans of that album say, "Every time I'd heard that album, it just felt dangerous and dark and scary.' And I think part of it's the tuning, and certainly part of it's the songs. So to go out and play that album top to bottom, it could happen, but I think at this point, there's various songs we could play. Like when we played last year, when we did [the] 'American Carnage' [tour with SLAYER and ANTHRAX], [METALLICA's] James [Hetfield] and Lars [Ulrich] actually came down to the Cow Palace show in San Francisco by where they live. And 'My Last Words' is one of Lars' favorite [MEGADETH] songs and so he asked about it. And as we were walking to the stage, Dave said, 'You know it? You know it? You know it? OK, let's put it in tonight.' So we actually just put it in the set and winged it. And it was a lot of fun to do that. So that might be more the way we go with it largely because there's this new album coming out now, and that is probably gonna take priority at this point."
On the upcoming MEGADETH album:
Ellefson: "Let's put it this way: It's funny that 20 years ago, we came off 'Rust In Peace' and we went in and made 'Countdown To Extinction'. So, to me, that's kind of what this album feels like. We did 'Sudden Death' [for a title in the 'Guitar Hero' franchise, 'Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock'] and then this new song, 'Never Dead', which is a very violent riff. That was the first song we did, and we finished it top to bottom because we had to get it into this video game called 'NeverDead'. So that's a pretty good indication of what the new record is gonna be. But it's a little wider than That's why I liken it to probably a little more to 'Countdown To Extinction', 'cause there's a couple of songs that aren't just full-on, in-your-face thrashing. However, most of it is. So you guys are gonna be excited. You'll like it. You'll dig it. You'll have fun [listening to it]."