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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Megadeth Dave Ellefson – Interview
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As one of the original members of thrash legends Megadeth and a guy who has gone through a lot of personal stuff and had an amazing career so far, it only makes sense that bass player Dave Ellefson shares some of those experiences with the fans on the road. With a new autobiographical book out called "My LIfe With Deth" which serves as the basis for his upcoming spoken word show in Australia this March, we caught up with Dave to discuss the tour and the latest with Megadeth.



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Andrew: Hi David it's Andrew from The Rockpit, how are you?

Dave: Hey Andrew how are you man?

Andrew: Yeah very good! Thanks for taking the time to chat to us, it's an absolute pleasure to be talking to you.

Dave: Yes thank you very much. Where are you calling? What part of the country are you in?

Andrew: I'm in Perth in Western Australia.

Dave: Ah OK good!

Andrew: It will actually be the first date on your spoken word tour actually!

Dave: Yes! Going to the far, far west first to get things started haha!

Andrew: Yeah it's a long way to go. This is a great idea, the spoken word show talking about your career and all that. Where did the idea to do this come from?

Dave: It was an idea that a friend of mine had brought to me last year and it's ironic because it was right around the time that the whole Megadeth participation with Soundwave was on the table and started to go south. And I thought you know what? Yeah absolutely I want to do this, in a way that I think would make me a little more up close and personal in relation to the fans and especially once all that went away because we don't get down to Australia very much. And it's funny because it's one of our favorite places to play and one of my favorite countries in the world. The vibe's great, the people are fun; it's like being on vacation when we go down there haha! The idea of doing this was spawned largely because of my book "My Life Of Deth" which I think once you put your life story in print and put it out there for people, it opens up a lot of opportunities to do different things besides just play your songs. And I like talking to people, I like narrating things and I like being engaged on a very personal level so for me I think it's a pretty good fit.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. I saw Scott Ian do this 2 years ago and I thought the show was just phenomenal, great stories. I mean you must have a truckload of amazing stuff to tell all the fans about.

Dave: Yeah I do haha! Personal ones, Megadeth ones, just the history of a guy who grew up in a very rural part of north of United States with a dream of being a rock star and being a musician and all that goes with that. It's funny because it's a dream that most heavy metal fans have in some way almost like there's a fantasy to it all. Like to just escape my life and go off and do something, what would I do and music is that great escape for so many of us.

Andrew: Are these shows based on your book or are they a little different to what you wrote about in that book?

Dave: I think the book is sort of the basis of it but because I'm there talking about it, I can expand so much more. I think a book has to have a beginning, a middle and an end and I think when you do spoken words you can really evolve things and really go much deeper with a lot of stuff. And also because there's going to be a Q&A portion of the event, that is the time I'm looking forward the most to, is having that time to be able to listen to and engage with and banter with the fans. It's almost like an evening with / meet n' greet. I always feel bad because sometimes people come through on a meet n' greet and they get a quick picture, maybe a handshake or maybe an autograph and that's it. And I feel bad sometimes because people pay pretty heavily for those things and it's like wow it didn't seem like much so in a lot of ways this is a way to be able to open things up a lot more and be able to have a night where you can hang. It's almost like a night at the pub where you can hang out and it can be casual enough and up close and personal enough. Because at least we all speak english, it helps. Sometimes doing the bass clinics in foreign languages, sometimes the language is a barrier. I've done South America and parts of Europe and you can only engage so much because the language becomes a barrier and that's one of the beauties of going to Australia is that isn't going to be a problem.

Andrew: Yeah that's right and it must be great to interact with the fans. And I'm sure the fans have a lot of questions they want to ask you so do you think there is anything at all that might be off limits for you or are you pretty much an open book as far as your life is concerned?

Dave: I think it's an open book. I find that as the saying goes everybody has at least one book in them meaning their autobiography, their life story. I've put "My Life With Deth" far. I'm a musician, I'm a fan, I'm a bass player, I'm a song writer, I'm a family guy, I'm a father, I'm a son, there's so many things you know what I mean? And also I get to be somewhat of an ambassador for metal on a lot of levels, on a lot of stages. There's a lot of crazy, fun, kooky people but sometimes they fall off the edge of the earth before their time and I've gotten to have a really good life with music. We started Megadeth when I was 18 so I've gotten to grow up with our whole community. And then Australia what's cool is it's remote and untouchable by most people in the world. Most people certaintly in the United States have not gone to Australia, most people I meet down in South America have never been there, most people I meet in Europe they have never been to Ausralia. So it's kind of this sacred, preserved country and I'm just beyond blessed to have gone there only a few times in my life but everytime I go, man the people are so cool. It's just a great rock n' roll country, the vibe is so cool and relaxed. I wish there could be more countries like it but at the same time, I'm glad there's not because that's what makes Australia unique.

Andrew: Obviously you have been here several times so is there any personal highlights that were memorable or stick out for you?

Dave: Well I remember the first time Dave (Mustaine) and I were on the roof of our hotel in Sydney and we were sunbathing and the fans came up there. And at first we were kind of annoyed because we were tired and were just trying to relax and have a little alone time and they said you gotta be careful, there's no ozone layer here, you migh get burned. And sure enough we were only up there for half an hour and we were beat red haha! So on the very first day I was sunburnt on the whole tour. So one more time, never doubt the fans.

Andrew: Haha that's great. So these collection of stories you have, are each show going to be different or are they going to be a constant streamlined kind of thing to it?

Dave: There will be a couple of common threads. 1: Me, 2: certaintly Megadeth is part of the story of a lot of it. But then there's also a lot of other stuff, the moments when I made some pretty serious life changes. Turning 50 back in November and 25 years ago literally in 1990 almost to the exact month is when I got off drugs and we went in and recorded the Rust In Peace album. And that began a huge, transitional journey and that was 25 years ago so literally half my life ago. So really so blessed over the last 25 years I've had clarity and I've been able to be present and experience it. I haven't squandered it, I don't live a life of regret because 'oh I wish I would of, I wished I could of'. It's like no, I was present, clear headed and I got to be present for what would become the best years of my life and I think that's a big part of this. It isn't just, let's stand up there with glass in hand and just share a bunch of war stories and talk about all the debauchery even though that is part of it. That the debauchery was a spring board to something else so I'd like to think that this will be something of an inspirational night out as fun as it will be and rock n' roll. It's not for prudes by any means but at the same time it's not something that's off limits to anybody. I think that I've been really open about faith journeys and various transitions in my life and I like for all those people to feel like they are invited as well. To know that it's something that hopefully exemplifies a life well lived.

Andrew: Yeah definitely. I am sure there will be a lot of people that have got their own struggles and that kind of stuff and looking for some inspiration and I think you of all people have a hugely inspirational story. You've been through a lot and know what to do.

Dave: Yeah and thank you, I appreciate it. To me that's a big part of it is if your life doesn't inspire others to do things then you're doing one of 2 things: You're either inspiring them and looking them up or you're leading them back down dark roads of temptation and deceit and I don't ever want to be that guy. Our music it's always dark, sometimes it's...I'll just use Megadeth music for instance "In My Darkest Hour" and put you to the songs from that...Back when we were on drugs, very dark days. For some reason those songs have inspired a lot of people. A lot of fans are like 'man I was really in a dark place, I thought about committing suicide and then I heard that song and I chose to live another day and now my life is completely different, that song saved my life'. So I hear a thing like that and you never know the moment or the time when something you say or do will change the course of a person's life and for me I always thought it as changing their life for the better, not 'because of you, you son of a bitch that I have all these problems!' Sometimes those songs were written out of our own personal struggle so it's nice to know that those struggles weren't in vein and they weren't for nought, that they can actually be used to help inspire somebody else.

Andrew: Exactly, it's the power of music. It can be such a hugely inspirational thing. It's great.

Dave: Yep exactly.

Andrew: Just before we wrap this up I wanted to quickly ask you about the big news within the band that Chris (Broderick) and Shawn (Drover) have left the band. Obviously you guys are looking for new members so how is the feeling with the band now that those guys have left?

Dave: Things are moving along. Obviously it was a sudden departure and kind of sent a lot of heads spinning both internally and externally. And at the same time I have noticed over the years that people when they reach a certain point, if they feel they need to move on the best thing you can do as a friend to them is let them go and I consider Chris and Shawn friends. When you live in the yellow submarine together for 5 years haha you tend to get pretty close and sometimes you're closer with your band than with your own family because they become your family. They are your extended family when you're on the road with them and in the studio for so many days and weeks and years at a time. Shawn is a great song writer, he writes some really good material and excited to see what he does next. I always felt that a guy like Chris Broderick is similar to Marty Friedman and those guys in the way that a lot of them at some point get to a place where they can almost start making their own solo records and doing their own thing like Jeff Loomis and various guys. It comes to that moment where certain guitar players can do that and I think Chris is one of those guys so I'm interested to see what he does next in his career. Chris is a great guy, he's a sweet spirit, he's a beast of a guitar player and he's got a really endearing personality and obviously great music abilities.

Andrew: Yeah it will be interesting to see what they do and best of luck to them!

Dave: Exactly.

Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us, it's been an absolute pleasure and we are looking forward to seeing you in March when you come over for the shows so thanks again!

Dave: Absolutely! Thanks Andrew.

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on January 10th 2015