David Ellefson interview
David Ellefson is a true legend in the world of Metal. His career spans decades and with tens of millions of albums sold, he has not only worked with Megadeth, but also with Soulfly, Avian, Temple of Brutality, F5, Killing Machine, Ministry, and most recently, Hail. Even if you are not a fan of Metal I will bet you a whole jagged case of whoop-ass that you have heard Mr. Ellefson’s bass riff intro to “Peace Sells” from the 1986 Megadeth album Peace Sells … but Who’s Buying?, which was used as the intro for MTV news for years and years and more years. Yeah, that bass riff. Told ya
HMM: You have had a very illustrious career, what are some of your favorite memories so far?
David Ellefson: I recently got back from a European tour with my band, Hail, and those were already awesome memories. We were in Greece and Turkey and I was down in South America last year. It’s just great to travel the world. Being able to travel the world, playing music, doing something you like … beats working any day. But as far as the things that really stand out, there’s playing Rockin’ Rio to several hundred thousand people … people further than the eye could see, almost. And then there’s other things like the first time I went to France and ordered steak tartare for breakfast and I was like, ‘What the hell is this?’ My steak is bleeding all over my plate first thing in the morning. And then a few hours later in Paris I remember going to order a pizza and not knowing how to read anything in French so I just pointed at the menu and ordered a #1. When it showed up it was a pizza with tuna fish with a fried egg in the middle. (Laughter)
HMM: Any other crazy memories from touring?
David Ellefson: I had this one show during Megadeth’s Killing is My Business Tour years ago where I had this cabinet where the speakers are kind of tucked back into the unit and at one point during the show the cabinet burst into flames. Flames were just pouring out of it. I remember Dave (Mustaine) stopped the show to get someone to put the fire out. I actually wish we could have kept playing cuz I thought it was pretty “Rock ‘n Roll”. I grew up a big Kiss fan so the fact that fire was shooting out of my amp I thought was pretty cool.
HMM: So what’s in the works for your band F5?
David Ellefson: Well the first record came out in 2005 – we released The Reckoning in August of 2008. We did some shows up until January and now we are really transitioning into writing for a new record. We have some songs in motion. Some things already started. I’m not sure what the timeframe is for another record, but we are a pretty prolific group so I think we will be in good shape for another batch of songs here soon.
HMM: What other projects are you working on?
David Ellefson: I got this new group called Hail. Hail is me, “Ripper” Owens formerly of Judas Priest, Andreas Kisser of Sepultura, and Jimmy Degrasso of Megadeth and Alice Cooper. We play some songs from our own catalogs and then some cover songs. The idea of it is that we aren’t a cover band; it’s us playing songs that we grew up on that we liked and inspired us through the different genres of Metal. So we’ve been taking it overseas and to South America and it has been really, really accepted well. It’s just packed houses every night. So that has really been cool.
HMM: If you were to give some advice to a new band, what would it be?
David Ellefson: That actually is a thing I have called “David Ellefson’s Rock Shop” on YouTube and part of what I am doing with that is a continuation of what I wrote about in my book, “Making Music Your Business.” So I’m going through several subjects, but very little of it is about music education. It’s about stuff like gear, the music business, traveling, touring, basically touching on a whole myriad of concepts. There’s a big difference between being a musician and being a Rock star. Not every musician can be a Rock star and not every Rock star is a great musician. There’s a whole different mindset to getting into the business side of the industry of music. Most people don’t make it in the music business because they don’t approach it as a business. They don’t approach it as being an entertainer and that’s why people like music – it’s because they want to be entertained. So, like a young player or someone who wants to get into the music industry, they have to realize the reason people are interested in them is because they are entertainers.