David Ellefson Reveals How a Fan Letter Inspired Megadeth to Play Faster in Early Days
When you think of thrash metal, you think of lightning riffs, and that is something that Megadeth's 1985 Killing Is My Business debut definitely has. But as former bassist David Ellefson recently shared on his website, a fan letter provided the impetus for pushing the band toward the even more blistering sound that fans have come to love on that record.
Ellefson, reflecting on Killing Is My Business … And Business Is Good, says, "It’s widely known that the KIMB album is one of the fastest thrash albums ever to descend upon mankind. However, rapid fire tempos in the band was not always the case."
As the bassist explained, "When we formed the group and first batch of songs were being composed in mid to late 1983, the tempos were much, much slower. In fact, almost at a Black Sabbath tempo. I recall 'The Skull Beneath the Skin' being almost half the tempo as it was finally recorded, which gave it this monstrous groove and weight. The same was true with 'Chosen Ones' which allowed me to play the bass lines with my fingers in a more Geezer-esque manner."
But then inspiration came in the form of a fan letter. As Ellefson recalls, "One day a fan letter showed up to our mailbox addressed to Dave which pleaded, 'I hope your new band is faster than Metallica' and BOOM that was it…game over!"
The bassist adds, "That night at rehearsal, all the tempos were increased dramatically (20-40 beats per minute minimum!) and thus the KIMB LP represents a true turning point in the trajectory of speed being the primary calling card of cool factor with the founding fathers of the thrash genre. Exodus was already fast as hell and once Kerry King had seen them live, Slayer would follow suit."
Ellefson was dismissed from Megadeth in 2021 after a sex scandal, ending his second stint in the group. Since that time, he started up The Lucid in 2021 and he's recently been involved with the Kings of Thrash supergroup that involves former Megadeth members Jeff Young and Chris Poland.
As Ellefson stated in his posting, Kings of Thrash will be revisiting material from the Killing Is My Business album, adding, "We’re excited to highlight these finer details of the songs without losing any of the 'teeth' which made the album a staple in Thrash metal all these years later." There are four dates on the books in San Diego, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles (West Hollywood) this October.