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Megadeth

Interviewed by Kat and Mike Heitzman

Interview with Dave Ellefson of Megadeth from 2011

MSJ:

You’re rounding the end of the Mayhem Fest tour. How would say it’s been going so far?

It’s been great, man. It’s really been fun. To me it’s like summer vacation. We worked hard on getting this new album done and that’s in the can now.  So this has kind of been like our summer goof off time. You know which has been a lot of fun to do that out here on the tour.  After this the new album will come out in November, we’re going to South America, Central America and we’ve got some stuff in November and Yankee Stadium in October so we have some stuff to keep us busy all the time way up until the new tour starts.
MSJ: I saw some pictures of you guys on the USS Helena the other day. What prompted that visit?
Actually I wasn’t there cause I was up at the Jersey Shore with my family, they happened to be in town. The invitation was put out to us, we had a day off in Virginia Beach so Dave, Shawn and Chris went over and they went on a nuclear submarine.
MSJ: So who invited them over there?
I don’t know. It was somebody from the armed forces. We have a lot of fans who are in the service, both on the front line as well as various ranking within our military. They like our music and they think our music has served them as far as being inspirational, gets them feeling good, you know. We support our troops always.
MSJ: So your CD that’s been out End Game, how much influence did you have writing it?
I was not in the band actually when that album was recorded. So that was during a period when I was away from the group but I came back. The album came out in September of ’09. There were a couple of legs of the tour that were done and then I came back in February of 2010 and we commenced the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace tour. So last year all the touring was a combination of the End Game tour but a lot of the shows were hinged around us playing the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace.
MSJ: So I noticed you have a few side projects, like F5, which I really like and also the tribute band called “Hail.” So what can you tell us about those?
Well those were things I did in my time away from Megadeth. I mean obviously coming back here I am pretty busy. This is a full time thing, you know?

My attitude with those is I don’t shut any doors to anything, even including Megadeth I didn’t shut the door to. It’s nice to be able to do all these things, even though we’re working real hard with Megadeth right now. There may come a time where we may want to have a little bit of down time and then I have some other creative outlets that I can do some things with those other groups. But right now, while I am doing this I really try to keep my focus, especially with a new album coming out and a big world tour that’s going to follow.

MSJ: How many new albums do you think Megadeth has left in them?
I don’t know, man. This new album is really good, man. There’s really a nice creative spark, new energy I think around the band. I mean I think me and Dave working together again, us doing a new album together again after all these years.  There’s just a real genuine excitement from our fans that started especially the last year. Really it’s kind of a whole new level of enthusiasm and of course with the big four and all the stuff going on. I think for us, we’ve never put a deadline on it and as long as we’re enjoying it and we’re having fun we’ll keep doing it.
MSJ: What was the last CD you personally purchased?
I buy ones and twos of songs off iTunes. Like if I hear something off the radio or somebody turns me onto something I’ll go buy it and that way I’ll own my own copy of it, you know? But as far as buying albums I usually go back and buy stuff that I grew up on. I bought a bunch of Rush music recently, but I think probably the last one I purchased was Iron Maiden-Seventh Son of the Seventh Son. I think that was the last full length album that I bought.
MSJ: Is there any reason you guys are not the last band to play this evening?
Well, we’re the headliner. Disturbed, Godsmack and Megadeth are the three headliners of this and I think there’s this perception that closing the show is always the best position to be in. I’m telling ya that after having twelve bands on the bill and having people being here from two in the afternoon I’m here to tell ya that closing the show is not always the best place. You know we’ve played a lot of big festivals over the years and sometimes right where we’re at or maybe where Godsmack is sometimes those are the best positions to be in. Because not everybody is not completely trashed and beat up, especially in this heat, man. This has been one of the hottest summer tours that I ever remember doing in my life. I think it’s nice. The slot we’re on right now, it’s cool. The band that plays before us tonight it will be, I believe Machine Head, so people are kind of lubed up and warmed up and ready to rock, then we come out and then I think it’s really a good slot on this festival.
MSJ: Are you happy at this point with your return to the band and how’s it going?
I am.  I’m real happy. It’s really been good. I think the fans are happy. You know at this point in our lives the fans have been so supportive of us over the years. They’ve stood by us through all of our own personal and professional trials and tribulations which a band like ours for this many years is bound to go through. Just as importantly through all the cultural and music business shifts and tides and turns that happen. The 90s were not friendly to heavy metal. I think for our fans to have stood by us and now a whole new generation of fans growing up and liking Megadeth really is classic. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if it weren’t for them, so they get all the accolades.
MSJ: That’s why you release the box set of Peace Sells?
Absolutely, and the 25th anniversary. Plus there are several different versions and mixes of that record in that box set and there’s a live album, a live show that was recorded in 1986. That was the thing I was excited to hear and when I got to hear it I was like “Wow, it took me back, a trip down memory lane.”
MSJ: What was the last concert you attended for your own enjoyment?
I’m trying to think what it was….I’ve been to so many concerts every day because we’re here doing them and I am trying to think of one. You know I take my kids to see shows once in a while. I think actually the last one that I attended was we had a day off in Denver on the Jagermeister music tour (Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax) and the Goo Goo dolls were playing up at Red Rocks. A friend of mine took me up there to see them and I met John Resnick and Robby the bass player. In fact they’re funny guys, man and those two, they’re like brothers in the same band, I admire their friendship. I like some Goo Goo dolls music. I like it because it’s different. It’s acoustic driven kind of stuff and its funny because they were on Metal Blade Records, on this metal label and I remember Robby telling me a great story about how he was so excited because they grew up in the Buffalo area and was so excited because King Diamond came through one time and he got to follow spot for the King Diamond show.  As much as they may not be a heavy metal band, they’re definitely rocker dudes at heart. So it was kind of fun to go out and see friends and re-connect with people.
MSJ: So do you have any Spinal Tap moments you want to share with us?
Every day there’s one! There’s always something, you know? God, let me think. I’m trying to think of something from Chicago, you know that would have happened years ago. Oh here’s one when we came through. We did a tour for the Peace Sells album and it was before we recorded the album. We did a little three week tour in January of 1986, it would have been. We were still on Combat Records, we hadn’t signed to Capitol yet. We did this little tour and we played at the Metro and these girls were hanging out and we left all of our personal belongings, like our personal suitcases up in the dressing room and went and played the show and came back and they were all gone. All our stuff was stolen. I don’t know if the girls did it, but they might have been a little too professional. I just remember all of our stuff getting ripped off and we were broke, man. We were flat broke. I went to a swap meet. Our next stop I think was in, ah I think Cleveland. I know we were on our way to New York and I remember going to a swap meet to buy new clothes, that’s how broke I was. I was so broke and it was freezing out. It was January, it was cold. So I went and bought this like military coat and trying to buy socks and underwear and a coat and some jeans and something just so I could have some clothes literally on my back because all my stuff got stolen.
MSJ: When is the new CD coming out?
November 1st 
MSJ: What is it called?
Th1rt3en
MSJ: Yeah why is the "E" backwards?
Well if you look at it it’s “Th1rt3en,” so the number “13” is in the name.
MSJ: Oh, OK now I get it. I’m dense …(chuckles)  OK, just one more, Is there anything you want to say about our economic situation right now. I know you guys are kind of political…
You know, there’s a lot of hate going on about the left versus the right, the liberals versus the conservatives and the truth of it is man, to me that’s the media. That’s the media trying to pit us against each other. That’s ultimately the devil and the enemy’s scheme to try to do that, to put us against each other. The truth of it is no one is a liberal or a conservative, we’re all a little bit of both, you know? The truth of it is this economic thing that’s happening right now is largely due globally because of the home sub-prime mortgage issue that happened several years ago. This is a major ripple effect. Banks all over the world have bought those loans. So banks all around the word are getting tanked. If you think this is a problem that happens in the United States I’m telling ya as a world traveler who has been all around the world in these last couple of years, this problem is tanking economies all around the world and it can almost single handedly be tied back to the Wall Street issue that happened before last year that we had to basically help them out, and the home loan issue.  You know what? Shame on all of us who took out loans, as much as we can say “Oh I got swindled” and blame them. The truth of it is the American people and we the people of the world need to stand up and take responsibility for what we did wrong. It’s not the government’s fault. When you sign your name on a loan and you promise to pay back some money, you need to read the fine print and you need to know what you’re signing. A lot of people knew what they were signing and thought they were gonna get something for nothing. They thought they were gonna move into a bigger house and live a life that they couldn’t afford and then when the bank came knocking (Knocks on table) and wanted their money that these people promised to pay them then all of a sudden everybody cries “foul,” everyone becomes a victim. You know what, man? There are no victims. It’s like we all are responsible for what we do. Rather than play the blame game, we should be trying to help each other out and trying to help each other out of these messes, not help each other into these messes.
MSJ: Good answer…is there anything else you want to share with us today?
That’s it
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
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