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Megadeth heeft de afgelopen jaren het nieuws weten te halen met veel zaken die niet direct aan hun muziek gerelateerd zijn. Uitspraken, vetes, aannames, maar vooral politieke standpunten, het was allemaal een beetje veel aan het worden. Tot het moment dat vorige maand ineens hun album ‘Dystopia’ het levenslicht zag, waarop de band toch een heel erg duidelijk vormherstel laat zien. En zo is de band na al die jaren misschien niet heel vernieuwend, maar zonder meer relevant in het huidige landschap. Bassist David Ellefson haalt ook nog wel eens het nieuws. Is hij nou wel of geen oprichtend bandlid, hoe zit het met hem en de oude bandleden, waar hij nog wel eens mee jamt en zo zijn er alles bij elkaar boekwerken te schrijven met alleen maar vragen aan de band. Maar ik kreeg van het management slechts een kwartier interviewtijd, dus ik heb wat onderwerpen moeten laten liggen voor een volgende keer. En, zo zal je tijdens het lezen van het interview wel terug lezen, dat kwartier ging bijna nóg sneller voorbij dan gedacht. Maar David is diplomatiek en dat lost hij naar ieders tevredenheid op. En juist die houding zorgt ervoor dat hij nog altijd staat waar hij staat.

Door: Ramon | Archiveer onder speed / thrash metal

Hi David, how are you doing?
Excellent, thank you, how are you doing?

Quite well. First and foremost, I just spoke to Joseph Fortmuller, who provides your picks at Sinister Guitar Picks, he insisted on me saying “hi” to you, so there you go!
OH YEAH, that’s great, cool, thank you.

Now welcome to Lords of Metal. There is a good vibe around the new record, ‘Dystopia’, isn’t there? And the marks are supporting that.
Yeah, It’s great. I think first and foremost the fans love it. And that’s really at the end of the day what matters. We took about probably a year and a half to write this record, starting back as far as June 2014 with the original ideas, we demoed everything and we started recording it in early 2015. You know, we took our time with it and the songs, it always comes down to that, make sure that the songs are strong. And quite honestly, we were really just rebuilding the band. We had Chris (Adler, Lamb Of God, R.- LoM) coming in to track the drums, Kiko (Loreiro, Angra) becoming an additional, official member of the group on guitar, there’s a lot of thing that happened at the same time, yet it was a process Megadeth has been through several times (laughs quietly). But this one just felt really natural and really organic, with a lot of positive energy.

That process includes you too by the way, I almost tend to forget there were recording without you in some era. It feels so “own” to have you there, is that your opinion too?
Yeah, thank you, I appreciate it. Yeah, that’s what it feels like to me. There is certainly a kinship and a familiarity with me there. I guess my leadership within the band isn’t necessarily always in front of the stage, in the centre spotlight.

What is it, then?
We all have roles within the band and there is a dynamic between me and Dave (Mustaine, guitarist, lead singer) and lots of times, my participation within the group is in stuff that is behind the scene and in other ways that are very subtle. That’s what I bring to the table, that is part of my participation to the band.

Does that also imply that you can give fire back to Dave Mustaine, if you strongly disagree on a certain topic, he accepts you in that role?
Yeah, very much so. The dice was cast in the very beginning. As with most bands, those roles are defined very early on. I think the reason I have been able to be a long-time member of this band is that I saw that right from day one, the beginning. I understood it, I accepted it and Dave is the chief architect of the band, he is the primary writer of the band and he just has great instincts. It just flows very natural from him, and part of being a band member is being someone who supports that and allow that creativity from him to flow. And it’s a big part of my role in ‘Dystopia’. Allowing Dave to have the time and the space to write the song that he wrote and to be in the creative driver’s seat with it. Obviously I had my time in the studio, working on my things. Obviously I am a live performer, you know, but a lot of my role is being supportive of that.

Rather than insisting on putting your mark on it, right. You said you are a live performer, but you do play the bass on the record, don’t you? Like some bass players don’t.
Of course, of course. Part of the reason of an interview is to give the insight of what happens. I don’t know what everybody hears, there is this outstanding record and behind it there is a year and a half of a lot of development. In our case with transitions of band members and new members coming in. But it is terrific with me and Dave and Chris and Kiko, we have a lot of fun together on the road, we have a lot of fun on the stage, and the sound of the band with the four musical abilities that we bring is really taking things to a whole other level, now.

I get to the other guys later on. What was done of this album when Shawn (drover, drums) and Chris (Broderick, guitar) left?
You know, there were a couple of ideas that were very much just Dave’s ideas. We jammed on them backstage. But it is hard to write songs when you are on the road. We move to places very quickly and this was definitely not a road-album. This was an album that was constructed off of the road. The time that we put into it happened in the studio and in writing sessions. This was not a backstage record at all.

band image

That is sort of the same approach as with the ‘Countdown To Extinction’ record, wasn’t it?
(Hesitates) Yeah, well it was, half of it WAS written on the Clash Of The Titans tour, actually. It was a little bit of a different scenario. ‘Dystopia’ is record one of a new line-up. ‘Countdown To Extinction’ was actually record number two of that line-up. So there’s a different energy going into that. This record by a large was with Dave at the creative helm, me being there as a supportive role. We were not only writing a new record, but also transitioning into a new band. And Chris and I have known eachother for many years, we got on very well, I think that was nice, that we had a pre-existing friendship in place and a mutual respect and admiration for eachother’s musical talents. So that really helped me and Chris mould together as a rhythm section. And I also had known Kiko and I had an acute awareness of his musical skills. So when we hit it we could get right down to the creation of the record from the beginning, because we already knew one and another.

That’s vital, isn’t it?
It is, getting to know eachother musically is obviously huge. Just because any of us may have been in respective bands, Dave and I in Megadeth, Chris in Lamb Of God, Kiko in Angra, there still is that process of getting to know eachother musically. But there was already a friendship. Dave and Chris knew eachother from the Gigantour. It was nice that those processes were already in play, before we got to start making music together.

I know you are still on good terms with the previous two members, but is it bold of me to say that is the difference between Chris (Broderick) and Kiko. Kiko has got outstanding technical prowess, but besides that, he plays much more from the heart than Chris does, in my opinion, or am I going too far luring you out, now?
Well, Chris was certainly a very able guitar player. He is skilled and academically and he certainly made his contribution to the group. But Kiko’s background, he was in a very prominent group, who rose out of South America. Dare I say, they were kind of the Dream Theater of South America (laughs). They had a very technical prowess to them, they are a very progressive band. But speaking to not only the musical side of it, Kiko was very much a leader of that band. And bringing Kiko into Megadeth is not just musical abilities, but years, and years of experience with him, in his own band, as a leader. That’s what it is in Megadeth,. We have four very capable leaders as men and you also have four really top of the ranks musical abilities. And you can hear that very clearly on this record.

and then the pr agent breaks in…

***sorry to interrupt you guys, time to wrap it up***

I was given fifteen minutes, my meter runs and says ten minutes now.
Well, here’s what we’ll do, just ask me two more questions and I will answer them both, is that cool?

Yes, that is fine. How much hope did you honestly have on a reunion with Nick and Marty?
(Sighs) You know, that is just something that’s been looming out there since that line-up dissolved many years back, now. And a lot of it is because the fans love the records that we made together. So it is understandable that as a fan you harken back to a glory day to try to relive that.

But how realistic was that?
Well, we understand why the fans want that. But the truth of it is, those performances will live forever on those records. And the people that got to attend those concerts during that era, that’s a memory that they’re gonna have forever. But life moves forward. Megadeth is a band that still has a lot of talent and creativity in continuing moving forward. And that’s why when the transition happened from Shawn and Chris into now this new line-up, I think if anything… it was fun for us to sit in a room together at night, have dinner together and discuss the opportunity. But it became really clear that that was a day passed and we can still be friends with eachother, and we can still always have those memories together, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right thing for us to do, to crawl back in time to relive those moments. And that is why that didn’t work. It was clear that this really wasn’t meant to be. Rather than trying to force that, sometimes as friends and as musical brothers, the best thing you can do is let eachother keep moving forward. I think the ‘Dystopia’ Record definitely `speaks volumes that this was the right decision to make, to keep moving forward, with the new line-up.

Yes, I personally think that Nick Menza would never have been able to play the material that was written after him. But you gave me one more question, so here goes. You are playing the Fortarock festival over here in The Netherlands. Down was cancelled because lead singer Phil Anselmo made a nazi-style gesture on stage and the festival doesn’t want to identify with that. What’s your view on that?
Down was cancelled? Well, I’ve seen a little bit of it, but I don’t know enough to make a statement or give any other comments on that. Megadeth is going to be there and we are just thrilled to be playing all the big festivals again.

I will not force you into an answer then. I was give two, so I stick to that. Any famous last words to close the interview down?
Yeah, thanks for your time and I am really looking forward to seeing you out on the road this summer.

I’ll do my best to meet you
Ok, awesome, thank you, see you!

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