As bass player and co-founder of thrash icons, Megadeth, David Ellefson is a living legend. He's just released a solo album, Sleeping Giants, a new autobiography, and is taking his More Live With Deth show on the road.
David is also teaming up with another legend, former Judas Priest axeman, K.K Downing for a very special show. We caught up with him to find out more.
You're playing two UK dates: one at the Underworld in London and one at K.K's Steel Mill in Wolverhampton, with some very special guests: K.K Downing, Ripper Owens and Les Brinks – how are you feeling about the show?
I'm totally looking forward to it.
Where did the idea for the mega Priest shows come from?
It's funny because I hit up K.K, to see if I could do a book signing at his venue. And then it turned into “hey do you want to jam a couple of tunes” and then I thought, if we can bring over Tim 'Ripper' Owens and Les Brinks, we can do an entire night of classic Judas Priest songs. I've already said I'm the biggest Judas Priest fan ever, Unleashed in the East, changed my life, so for me it's a fanboy moment for sure. Also K.K and I have become friend and musical contemporaries, so for us to collaborate as musical friends is the thrill of a lifetime.
Will there ever be a Mega Priest album?
Well, let's take it one step at a time. I'm confident this concert is going to be a blast, we're going to have a lot of fun. I'm open to any possibilities of doing anything with K.K and if we can do it with Ripper and Les Binks, the more the merrier. I love these big fun collaborations. I'd love for nothing more than this to be the beginning of something bigger.
What made you want to add to your story by releasing another book?
A lot has happened since the last book came out. A lot has happened since I came back to Megadeth in 2010: the Big Four, new Megadeth albums, winning the Grammy. I started a record label, a coffee company, relaunching Combat Records, it just seemed that a lot of life had happened that was worthy of putting into a new book.
Will there be a Vol 3?
Well I figure that after I die I'll do My Life After Deth!
Heavy metal is often seen as the Devil's music, but many musicians are Christians - why do you think that is?
Well to me it's real simple: Christianity is just doing God's will and God's will is whatever 'to thy own self be true', you're wired to do. The good Lord, our creator, however you want to define Him, has given us each unique skills to play a certain role here in our time on Earth. I think that if you're living out what those skills and gifts are you, then you're doing God's will. To me it's really that simple. I think religion has complicated that deeply, and I think that it has extra steps that aren't necessary. I think anyone of us can find our creator in moments of quiet and silence, and that's usually when we tap into that inner strength and inner resource. I've discovered that resource is ultimately God, because he's the creator of darkness. If I pick up a guitar, and as loud as it may or may not be, whatever comes out, is probably God's will and gift for me.
You studied for the ministry yourself, didn't you?
I did one year of Lutheran seminary studies in 2012. It was an online course and I enjoyed it. It helped me to understand the theology of the Bible from Genesis to Revelations, which was very cool. It's a big book and there's a lot of stories and they're not necessarily in chronological order, so it's a very complicated book to understand. I'm glad to have to had some studies because I can understand it better. And if me understanding it better helps other people to understand it better, maybe that's part of God's will for my life.
Basstory started off as a storytelling show. What can we expect from the Basstory – More Live With Deth shows?
Well Basstory is the platform we created and we're calling it the Sleeping Giants Band, because it's based around my companion solo album (Sleeping Giants) to and the book. It's based around a whole band, it's not a masterclass or bass clinic, which is how Basstory started, its now moved very much into a full band performance. As a result, we can play songs from the new album and also play some deep cut classics that people know me for and even also some things that were influential to my own career. It's nice to have a full band, I have the liberty to move around in any number of directions.
Who was influential to you?
Well certainly K.K Downing and Judas Priest, but that was probably in the middle of my musical education. I think in the very beginning, Kiss and a lot of American radio rock like Aerosmith, Styx, Boston, even early Journey which was very guitar driven radio friendly songs. Living on a farm I knew about bands from going to concerts, in magazines or if I was in a major city I would hear big FM radio that played the stuff that I liked.
There's the Mega Cruise, then I come to Europe, then I do a Basstory across South America. Then the next thing is kicking off the Megadeth, Five Finger Death Punch, Bad Wolves tour across Europe in February, and then resume work on the new Megadeth album.
Full tour dates https://www.davidellefson.com/
Interview by Cathy Clark