David Ellefson Explains How He’s ‘Watched the Quality of Megadeth Diminish’ Over Last Five Years
As he continues to promote To Hell and Back, the new album by his death-thrash group Dieth, David Ellefson has been candid when answering questions about his time in and exit from Megadeth, recently stating how he's "watched the quality of Megadeth diminish over the last five years."
The bassist, who co-founded the Big 4 thrash group, was ousted in 2021, keeping busy with a multitude of other projects. He's delighted to have a sense of control in these projects and has more freedom when it comes to songwriting, he tells Metal Edge in a new interview.
"Megadeth is supposed to be a group, not a solo project masquerading as a group," he assesses, a reference to how much Dave Mustaine has a say it what goes on with the band.
"The fact that things in Megadeth went down as they did was a blessing in disguise," he acknowledges, "Because even before I was fired, it was clear that I was not musically wanted in Megadeth. Everything I had written and recorded was pulled from the last album [The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!]. I guess it took the gates of Hell opening for me to finally escape what had become a rough situation. So, I'm not bitter at all. I'm happy to be doing my own thing."
At one point during the writing and recording sessions for The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!, it was reported that Ellefson was expected to sing lead vocals on a ballad about the bad blood with Mustaine over the years. That was in 2019, however, and obviously that did not come to fruition. Ellefson does take lead vocal duties on the Dieth song "Walk With Me Forever," though, so fans can still get a sense of what he sounds like behind the mic.
Recollecting several bits from his past with Megadeth, he said he "saved the day" when he rejoined in 2010, the year the thrash legends embarked on a tour playing their classic Rust In Peace album in full. Ellefson notes that the band "would have runs its course then and there" if he hadn't come back and that he was able to help other members feel "comfortable" in the band and to navigate "the grenades and landmines littered throughout the creative process."
"I knew what it took to basically keep yourself alive in that band," the bassist says.
When asked if he thinks Mustaine is trying to intimidate his Kings of Thrash bandmates (the group featuring Ellefson and other classic Megadeth members that focuses on the band's early material live) by "taking shots" through the media, Ellefson remarks, "It's 100 percent why that's been happening."
"I've watched the quality of Megadeth diminish over the last five years, which was very frustrating. I'd bring ideas to the table and try to help the situation, but those ideas would be either shut down or removed after the fact. It was very aggressive and frustrating to be intentionally diminished or removed from the process," he asserts.
Likening that behavior to that of children, Ellefson goes on, "So, I said, 'Okay, I see what's going on here.' An old saying goes, 'Kids that don't share their toys don't have friends.' So, I just said, 'I'll take my toys and play with someone else.' This is simple shit you learn in kindergarten, but not so much in that band."
While his ideas were rejected throughout the process of The Sick, The Dying... And The Dead!, it wasn't like the just one album prior.
"When we did Dystopia, it was just me and Dave working together on that. It was like the old days," Ellefson recalls, adding that he elected to "forgo credit" on the record, but was happy to be working alongside Mustaine in a manner that reflected their writing partnership in the early days.
"In my opinion, the Grammy we won, that time was the last truly great moment for Megadeth," he contends.
Read the complete interview here.
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