MEGADETH's DAVID ELLEFSON Talks 'Basstory' Tour, EMP Record Label And Playing With Other Bands


Metal Is As Metal Does.
Staff member
Sep 30, 2001
Virginia, USA
Germany's Moshpit Passion recently conducted an interview with MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson. You can watch the entire chat below. A few excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). On how MEGADETH got permission to include songs from the various record companies it has done business with for its 35th-anniversary greatest-hits compilation, "Warheads On Foreheads": David: "Well, I guess the powers that be were able to negotiate that and make that happen. You're right — it is good. It's a great fan collection of the best of the best over the years. And you're right, there has been a lot of record labels. It's nice when everybody gets along and plays nice for the fans and for the greater good." On the most frequently told story during his "Basstory" tour, which combines Ellefson's solo bass playing and storytelling: David: "You know, every one of these is different. I kind of just let the mood and the crowd and everything sort of dictate it. It kind of turns into a bit of a show, which is fun, I think, for the fans. They're used to coming out and seeing a big concert, and we try to really get the feeling of the event to be like this, just this personally. So I think that things come to me as I'm onstage, stories to tell, like, 'Let me tell that one…' There's no way you can fit them all in, which is why I do three weeks in a row of them. Usually by then, I'm done telling stories and I need a little break and then by the time I do it again, it's like a whole new bunch of stories come back. It's part of the journey." On what he has learned from playing bass in a variety of bands: David: "It's just like a conversation. Music is a conversation, and sometimes you talk, sometimes you listen, and I think that's part of the interaction. Sometimes my role as a bass player is to just be an accompaniment and help support someone else's song. And then there's times when I'm the one who needs to speak — I need to bring in my own either part or lyric, a melody. I think my favorite ones are when it's collaborative between people. Not all of them — sometimes you're just there to play for someone else and be there to play their song. And that can be just as fun, too —sometimes it's fun just to play to someone else's material. But it's nice. The bass is an instrument that allows me to be both an artist and a creator, as well as just be a performer, just be a backing accompaniment. So it's kind of a cool role that I get to have." On whether he would consider bringing a package of his EMP record label bands over to Europe: David: "We've done that with HELSTAR, RAVEN, HATCHET, to partner bands together. I've never been a big fan of the whole 'buy on to a tour.' It's hard enough to just even sustain yourself, pay your own bills, eat, have gas to get to the next gig when you're a relatively new band. I get why artists buy on. MEGADETH, we've never done that — we've never had people pay us money to play. If you're worthy of being there and you've built up your legacy to be worthy of being on the stage, then hey, man, get out there and kick ass. Bring your best to make the whole thing better. So I think even with the record label and Ellefson Touring Agency, we started that… Ironically, I was the first client, because we booked the 'Basstory' with it. I was, like, 'All right, let me be the first one. Because if it fucks up and falls apart, let it be on me, let it be on my name.' So we did that first. And one of the things we realized when we signed bands to EMP and Combat [Records] is the next thing is they have to go tour, they have to work. And if they're not out performing… Records are never gonna sell in a record store. Oftentimes, people are just going out to the merchandising booth and hanging out with their fans. I know a lot of people don't even listen to CDs, but a CD becomes a place to put an autograph. It becomes a token, a memorabilia to bring home. It's like buying a t-shirt. The one thing you can't replace is the interaction between people in a venue. YouTube can't replace it, Spotify can't replace it. No digital platform, as much as we can sit on our phones and watch this stuff, it doesn't replace just being there in a room. I think, more than anything, the things that we have in my Ellefson industries are always about bringing people together to just always capture that human element." "Warheads On Foreheads" will be released on March 22. The disc will feature 35 remastered tracks selected by MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine. Prior to the arrival of "Warheads On Foreheads", MEGADETH reissued two of its iconic records, 2001's "The World Needs A Hero" and 2004's "The System Has Failed", through BMG on February 15.

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