Megadeth’s David Ellefson: ‘We Owe Everything to Metallica’
Metallica are not just the biggest metal band on Earth, but one of the biggest bands in all of recorded human history. This notion is not lost on Megadeth's David Ellefson, who spoke glowingly of the band while expressing that his own group, along with every other metal band, "owe everything to Metallica."
There's quite the history between the two legendary thrash groups, as all fans know. Dave Mustaine began his career in Metallica's ranks before being jettisoned in 1983 as the band was on the verge of recording their debut record. For decades, there was bad blood between the two sides, but it's all in the past now as Mustaine and Metallica's members have reconciled.
When asked by Detroit's WRIF if Megadeth kept tabs on what Metallica were doing in the mid-to-late-'80s period of their respective careers, Ellefson didn't hesitate when stating, "Oh, of course. I mean, look, we are all just a branch off the Metallica family tree. I mean, let's face it. Especially Megadeth, with Dave being there, and then me being a branch off of Dave with Megadeth. So, I mean, look, we owe everything to Metallica."
Ellefson also spoke of the holistic impact Metallica had on the rest of the metal scene, not just Megadeth, back then and through the present. "Those guys broke down the doors for every one of us — Anthrax, Slayer. Bands today — Lamb of God, Pantera — none of this would have happened without Metallica being up there as the 800-pound gorilla just carving the path through the jungle that would have never let heavy metal in."
When Metallica released their self-titled album (most commonly referred to as 'The Black Album') in 1991, it brought heavy music straight to the mainstream, building on the major label successes of Master of Puppets as well as …And Justice For All that had already expanded metal's world market.
"The stuff that they're able to do and the size and the scope of which they were able to break those doors down, it changed all of our lives — as musicians, as fans, as everything," continued Ellefson. "That's why I think when they did the 'Big 4' [shows] with us in 2010 and '11, that was just such a great olive branch."
For Ellefson, it's all a binding sense of unity. "As [Anthrax guitarist] Scott Ian said, 'It's like we're all brothers of the same family, it's just that one of our brothers went off and became Microsoft' [laughs], and that was Metallica. It's, like, 'How the hell did you do that? That's amazing. You changed the world.'"
Still appreciative of those 'Big 4' shows featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, the bassist gleamed, "But the fact that they came back and, again, offered that olive branch to us and just said, 'Hey, we were all in this together. Let's celebrate what we did together so many years ago.' And I think that speaks volumes to just how cool Metallica is."
Next year, Megadeth will embark on a co-headlining North American tour with Lamb of God alongside Trivium and In Flames. The trek was originally slated for 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. See those dates here.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Megadeth, who have long been at work on their follow-up album to 2016's Dystopia. For now, fans can get their fix by diving into Mustaine's new book, Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece, which details the band's groundbreaking 1990 album. Watch Loudwire's interview with Mustaine about the book here.
See Megadeth + Metallica in the Top 50 Thrash Albums of All Time