David Ellefson Interview – Dieth, Megadeth + Looking Ahead
When David Ellefson and Megadeth parted ways the second time in his career, he could have decided to coast and live off the legacy that he helped cement with some of the band’s most significant albums like Killing Is My Business…and Business is Good!, Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying? And Rust in Peace, to name a few.
“Thank goodness I never played music for money, you know what I mean,” Ellefson told Chuck Armstrong on Monday night’s Loudwire Nights (May 29). “For me, music has always just been this passion…it’s been a pursuit of a craft. And as music styles change, you know, sometimes if you’re going to be a professional in the business, you have to be aware of that. You have to adapt and move around accordingly.”
The first time Ellefson was let go from Megadeth, he had been with the band for nearly 30 years. It didn’t take long for him to form a couple of new bands, F5 and Temple of Brutality, though, and even perform with Max Cavalera on some Soulfly records.
“That was probably the decade of really opening my eyes and ears to new things.”
When he returned to Megadeth in 2010, he stayed with them for a little more than a decade, exiting in 2021. Now, nearly exactly two years since that departure, Ellefson is gearing up for the release of a brand-new album with a brand-new band, Dieth.
“]Dieth is] myself, Guilherme Miranda—who is guitar player and was in Entombed A.D.—and Michał Łysejko from the death metal band Decapitated,” Ellefson explained about the Dieth trio. “These two guys definitely come from the very fabric of death metal, I guess in the same way I do with thrash metal.”
As he explained it to Chuck, the meetings of the minds happened in January 2022, first by way of email when Ellefson was introduced to Miranda, who sent him the song “In the Hall of the Hanging Serpents” and asked if he would play bass on it.
“Like a lot of things, I said yes. Why not?”
Ellefson didn’t have many expectations of what it might become or where it would go, but after it was mixed, they thought it sounded pretty cool. Now, Dieth are preparing for the release of their debut album, To Hell and Back, on June 2 via Napalm Records.
“This has a really new sound to it,” Ellefson recalled. “Very heavy, but yet still has some melody in it. And that’s always kind of been my thing—be heavy yet melodic.”
David Ellefson Handles Lead Vocal Duties For the First Time Ever
One of the best representations of the heaviness and melody of Dieth’s new music is found in the track, “Walk With Me Forever.” Musically, it definitely leans more on the melodic side of the band and that’s thanks in part to Ellefson not only playing bass on the track, but handling lead vocal duties—something he has never done in his entire career.
“I’m lucky, in Dieth we tune down to C, so first of all, the range is perfect for me,” Ellefson explained. “Once they heard me sing, they were like, ‘Whoa, you’re singing this one.’ I’m not going to lie, I was thinking in my mind, ‘Who do I call to be the guest?'”
But Ellefson’s bandmates stood firm and he’s glad they did.
“My voice, it really did sit right with it. It’s got the right tone to tell the story, because that’s what it is, it’s a story. It’s a story of grief and sadness and loneliness and, you know, a relationship ending.”
“Walk With Me Forever” premiered on Loudwire Nights during Chuck’s conversation with Ellefson. The song follows the different stages of grief, helping the listener answer the question, “How do I walk away from the end with a good memory?”
“Fortunately, I think as humans, we’re wired for the bad times in our lives to sort of diminish over the years,” Ellefson said. “The memories of them and the sweetness of the good times, always get a little better. That’s what I’ve found in my life anyway. This story plays into that a little bit.”
Megadeth in the Rearview, For Now
As Ellefson thought about the meaning of “Walk With Me Forever,” it eventually led to him and Chuck talking about the most well-known relationship in his life coming to an end more than once: Megadeth. For Ellefson, it’s not complicated, though; he holds onto the good memories and has no issue celebrating his part in the band’s ongoing legacy.
“Oh well, so we’re not playing in a band together anymore,” he said. “We still have songs. You still go to the family reunion. Even if you’re kind of pissed off at Uncle Joe, you still go to the reunion because you still want to see your grandkids or your kids, you know … Maybe I’m just freaking naive.”
It helps that he has other musical ventures in his life, like Dieth. “I’m not sitting here with a broken heart, lamenting the loss of something. I’m long past that … It is what it is. I mean, look, you could walk around your house having conversations in your head with other people that aren’t in the room and slicing and dicing—it’s human nature. But as they say, the resentment is like drinking the poison and hoping someone else will die…outside my head, out here where reality is, it’s like, look, everybody’s just kind of moving on, doing their thing.”
The fact that Ellefson has left Megadeth twice helps him keep the mentality of “keep looking ahead.” When it ended for him and the band in 2002, he said Megadeth was in the rearview mirror. And then, one day, the band came back around again in the front view and he was open to it.
“Right now, it’s in the rearview, you know,” he told Chuck. “The other things in my front view—Dieth obviously, it’s right here, right now. Live in the now, don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the resentment. Don’t live in the what could have been or should have been because that didn’t happen. Live in reality, to use Garth from Wayne’s World. Live in reality.”
What Else Did David Ellefson Discuss on Loudwire Nights?
- Why he decided to attend seminary and how sometimes he felt more supported by the heavy metal community than the Christian community
- How he experiences different world cultures through his Dieth bandmates
- PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Ellefson chooses some of his favorite bass players who use picks
Listen to the Full Interview in the Podcast Player Below
David Ellefson joined Loudwire Nights on Monday, May 29; the show replays online here, and you can tune in live every weeknight at 7PM ET or on the Loudwire app; you can also see if the show is available on your local radio station and listen to interviews on-demand. Pre-order To Hell and Back at this location.
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