20 QUESTIONS WITH…
Ex-Megadeth Bass Player Dave Ellefson
Megadeth has been back in the news lately with the news that Dave Mustaine is putting together a new version of the band as well as reissuing some of their past CDs. However, Dave Ellefson will not be part of this new version of Megadeth, so we thought it was time to do 20 Questions with him and find out what he has going on. Enjoy!
1. What are you currently up to? This is your only chance to promote your shit.
I’ve got a new group called F5. People should go to www.f5theband.com for more info. I also played bass on several tracks on the new Soulfly record and played in the video for the title song "Prophecy".
2. What are your thoughts on Dave Mustaine reforming Megadeth without you in the band, and why didn’t you go back? Do you have something better to do?
People think I said "no" when he approached me and that is not true. We talked several times and I was excited about the possibility of us making something happen together again. However, as you can now see, that didn’t exactly pan out.
One thing I do know is that I never gave up, or got fired, during the entire time we were a band. That should be a good testimony of my willingness to stay true to Megadeth over the years.
3. How did you hook up with the guys in F5 and when are you guys coming out with anything?
I started with that in early 2003. Megadeth ended in 2002 so I moved on to new things. I never did any side bands or solo projects during Megadeth because I dedicated my whole life to that group. So, it’s cool to finally step out on my own and do things like F5 and the Soulfly record.
F5 is in the studio right now and I hope to have something for everyone to hear soon.
4. What hard rock/heavy metal band should give it up and call it a day?
Most of the metal bands that insist "the old school is coming back" are a bit delusional, I think. Don’t get me wrong, I do think it will come back in some fashion, but most likely from a younger generation who interpret it in their own way. As for the veteran bands, I think reunions speak volumes.
5. Rate the following bass players on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 being somebody that has no business playing 4 strings and 10 being a Bass God.
Nikki Sixx = 4
Frank Bello = 5
Jason Newsted = 7
Steve Harris = 10
Michael Anthony = 7
Robert Trujillo = 10
Tom Hamilton =9
Lemmy = 9
Gene Simmons = 11
Duff McKagan = 8
6. Do you buy Dave’s story about how he hurt his arm or do you think there was more to the story?
All I know is what he told me.
7. In alphabetical order, can you name every member of Megadeth while you were in the band:
Here they are by last name:
8. Has Dave Ellefson ever:
Wanted to audition for Metallica = I think all metal bass players did
Rode across the country on a Greyhound = No
Seen a UFO = No
Had dinner at Alice Cooper’s house = No, but I hear the Megadeth Meatloaf at Cooperstown restaurant in Phoenix is rockin’.
Been influenced by Poison bass player Bobby Dall = Yikes-no!
Seen a tornado =No, but I was in a twister driving through Lousianna one night. It was dark, though, so I couldn’t see it.
Visited an alligator farm = I think they have one by the Myrtle Beach, NC House of Blues, which means I visited it by proxy.
Pissed your pants in your sleep = As a kid I did. Never as an adult or while I was drunk, though.
Fell out of your tour bunk = No
Visited a Japanese bathhouse = Absolutely, I assumed it was a rite of passage.
9. Anthrax’s Charlie Benante recently said, "Heavy metal is dead in the U.S." Do you agree with that? Thoughts?
For all the new bands on Ozzfest it apparently isn’t! As a general rule,
the elder statesmen of metal usually get all uptight when they see trends change. However, you can’t be the flavor of the day your whole life. I
say get over it and move on to new things. The fans will always remember
you for your glory days. Plus you gotta hand the torch off to the next generation who grew up on your music.
10. Give us a touring memory about playing the following cities:
Salt Lake City = Salt Lake City has always been a fun concert city, even though it certainly has a religious reputation. Coincidentally, I once knew a bus driver who would affectionately refer to it as "Salt Lick City" out of respect for all those good religious girls-gone-bad who wanted to
show some hospitality to the rock bands when they rolled thru town. I think you can fill in the blanks on that one!
Denver = Any show at Red Rocks Amphitheater is memorable to me. The bummer there is that it’s the "Mile High City" so the air is thin and there is very little oxygen which makes you practically faint when you’re jammin’ hard on stage. They always have masks and tanks on the side of the stage in case you pass out.
There’s also a doctor there that comes to all the shows named "Dr. Buzz", and he’s always available if anyone is sick on the tour. One night, before a show on the "Clash of the Titans" tour, he gave me a vitamin B shot so I wouldn’t get sick and my bum cheek was in excrutiating pain for hours afterwards. I could barely walk or sit and the gig was a real bitch to run around and play that night, let me tell ya! I never had another one of those shots again.
Chicago = We played at the Metro pre-"Peace Sells." and someone stole all of our clothes out of the dressing room while we were on stage. I had to live like a vagabond until I got to NYC to buy surplus clothing at a swap meet in The Village. So much for the "good ‘ol days".
Dallas = One of the most hell raising towns that exist for metal. Once, we played a show at the Starwood Amphitheater, and when we came onstage for the opening song, I was blinded by the spotlight, and a fan threw a beer in my face full force. That got the show off to a roaring start for me!
Boston = We played in Salem right before the RISK tour. This is the city where the witch burnings took place, close to Boston. It was outdoors and the wind kicked up so Jimmy DeGrasso’s drum monitor fell over on him while he was playing. His tech didn’t notice so he had to play half of a song with 500 lbs. of speaker cabinets lying on his back. It was funny as shit
and I was hysterically losing it watching the whole debacle! Oddly, Jimmy didn’t think it was so funny.
Philadelphia = If this is the city of "Brotherly Love" I’ve never gotten so pissed off at anyone in any one place, ever! The gigs rock though. Best memory is the massive pile of broken chairs on the floor of the Spectrum after the "Clash of the Titans" gig. Complete destruction and mayhem.
Detroit = This has always been a bad ass city. Like Chi-town, they’ve got the killer metal fans. I remember playing the song "Mary Jane" at the gig after working it up at sound check on the "Peace Sells" tour at the club Harpos. I think we even played it that night on stage.
Another time someone went into my wardrobe case and stole my last bits of heroin from me while we were onstage during the "So Far, So Good." tour. Those damn thievin’ junkies!
Tampa = What a great city! The highlight for me was playing the "Livestock" festival and watching the band "The Impetant Sea Snakes" open for us. Jenna Jameson was there, the band was mostly naked with chics onstage doing oral sex acts and basically a full on orgy going on while the band played. It was like watching total Sodom & Gomorrah. Talk about the perks!
Phoenix = Aside from hangin’ my hat here for the last 10 years, this town was always cool for me (no pun intended). I love a place where the sun is always shining! Megadeth had great times here as well including our last gig which was the "Rude Awakening" DVD.
Tokyo = The Japanese are so respectful yet they totally rock out. They keep a real cool to their demeanor during the day but man, do they know how to tear it up after hours! Eating dinner with our promoter in the restaurant where they cook steak on a hot rock is still the highlight for me. They ain’t got nothin’ like that in Mayberry, I assure you.
11. What are your 3 highlights and 3 lowlights in being in Megadeth?
1. Cool songs
2. Never a dull moment on stage
3. We did it longer than most bands could ever imagine carrying on
1. Inconsistency with the lineup
2. Drug setbacks
3. The breaking up of the band
12. The last of Dave:
Last CD you purchased = Evanescence
Last movie you saw = Starsky and Hutch
Last time you talked to Dave Mustaine = November, 2003
Last Megadeth record you listened to = Countdown to Extinction
Last time you threw up = January
Last time you boiled your bass strings = 1990
Last book you read = Some useless dribble from an airport book store
Last illegal drug you took = Heroin, in 1989.
Last time you got a Megadeth royalty check = December
Last concert you saw from the crowd = Tantric/Shinedown/Silvertide, Phoenix March, 04
13. Dave Mustaine’s problems with drugs have been well documented, but what about yourself? What’s the most fucked up thing you ever did that you don’t remember doing?
I used to just get really wasted and go do shit. I didn’t want to be a useless drug addict, I wanted to be productive!
14. What rock star deserves a smack in the mouth and why?
There’s too many to list these days. Why do they think the all have something to say anyway? Just shut up and get the hell out on stage and rock!
15. Which do you prefer:
Anthrax with John Bush or Anthrax with Joey Belladonna = I like John as a singer, but they seemed more of a solid band with Joey.
Paris Hilton or Jessica Simpson = Jessica seems more voluptuous but she doesn’t have any pornos out so it’s hard to tell.
Max Norman or Max Cavalera = I’d say Cavalera since he’s still working in the biz now.
Riki Rachtman or Iann Robinson = Who’s Iann Robinson?
Warrant or Poison = Do I have to?
King Diamond or Venom = King Diamond
Touring with Aerosmith or Touring with Motley Crue = At least with Motley we got to do a full set.
The Darkness or Spinal Tab = I thought they were the same band!
Damageplan or Superjoint Ritual = Hmmm, flip a coin on this one.
St. Elmo’s Fire or The Breakfast Club = Now you’re really reaching! I’d have to go with the Breakfast Club. At least the one red headed chic was kinda hot back in the day.
16. Recently, Megadeth fans were posting on their message board asking about a reunion and Dave said the following: "Remember, [drummer Nick] Menza was ready to go, and like I said, I was unable to accommodate the others. The reasons don’t matter. And as respectfully as I can say this, it is not anyone else’s business but the people I talked to. And . . . they know the number to my management if they reconsider. Now, please drop it. I have found some players that I believe in, and am assembling a group to play with me. No one questioned my choices when I picked anyone else in the past. I think I know what I’m doing. And if ya don’t like it, well there’s always that big super-group that all the ex-members were trying to form. Hahahahahaha!"
What’s up with Dave kinda bitching at the fans and then mocking the ex-members?
At the end of the day, Dave and I created a cool legacy together and that should always be the focus of our work, not opinions after the fact.
17. You have a book called "Making Music Your Business: A Guide For Young Musicians." Ok, if you could give advice to any young band today, what band would that be and what would you tell them?
"The music business is a cold, ruthless world where scoundrels, pimps and thieves make all the rules. Oh, and there’s also a negative side!" In other words, don’t try this at home!
18. What would it take for you to rejoin Megadeth?
Picking it up where it left off always seemed doable for me.
19. After working with Dave Mustaine for almost 20 years, is it strange to work with a singer who actually has a vocal range?
Dale really tears it up. He’s a great front man. no pretense and easy to hang with. He’s a good song writer and is totally passionate about all things rock.
20. Time for Metal Sludge’s Word Association. We mention a name and you give us your thoughts.
Max Norman = Fucking brilliant man!(with an English accent, of course).
Marty Friedman = The nicest guy ever. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.
Nick Menza = Just a fun lovin’ kid really.
Dale Steele = Quick wit, great singer
Alice Cooper = Legendary
Lars Ulrich = I’ve always liked Lars
Scott Ian = I like Scott, I just never got the comic book thing.
Kerry King = He’s always been the coolest guy to me, even though he looks like he’d rip your lungs out.
Zakk Wylde = Without a doubt, one of my favorite guitar players today.
Dave Mustaine = Very innovative and definitely a good entertainer.
That was a good effort by Dave. He told some good stories and managed to avoid talking shit while at the same time not really avoiding any questions. A good first showing.
For more info on Dave’s new band, you can visit www.f5theband.com